SBJ/April 16-22, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL and WISE form partnership

The NFL will become the first broad corporate partner of the nonprofit Women in Sports & Events, the latest effort from the league to enhance its gender-diversity efforts. An announcement of the new partnership was scheduled for today.

The NFL is paying a fee to WISE, which will work with the league on developing mentoring and instructional programs designed to help women advance in the sports field. The NFL and WISE declined to disclose the amount, and precisely the type of programs the NFL and WISE will collaborate on is still developing.

“Forty-four percent of our fans are women, and we have an opportunity to continue to engage our fans — and this is part of that strategy,” said Robert Gulliver, the NFL’s chief diversity officer.

The NFL has 280 female employees out of 981 total staffers; this does not include the league’s 32 teams. The NFL recently launched its first internal employee affinity group, the Women’s Interactive Network, members of whom met with WISE recently. The NFL also has various outreach efforts for female fans, such as Football 101 clinics, and new apparel offerings targeting women.

WISE is an 18-year-old group whose mission is to provide women professional support in the sports industry. It has focused on providing networking and mentoring opportunities along with hosting an annual luncheon.

The partnership with the NFL could allow the group to grow and hire its first full-time staff, said Kathy Francis, chair of WISE’s national board of directors.

The NFL deal is for one year. Francis said, “We hope for a long-term partnership with the NFL but also see it as a jumping-off point to talk to others in the industry.”

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