SBJ/July 30-August 5, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Summit latest effort by MLB to boost diversity

Major League Baseball last week held its inaugural Diversity Business Summit, as the league looks to attract more minority and women employees and vendors.

The one-day event at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center drew more than 600 registrants. Job seekers paid $125 to attend, and businesses looking for procurement opportunities paid $325 for the chance to meet directly with league and team executives.

The event attracted more than 600 registrants, including job seekers and vendors.
Photo by: JOEL KOWSKY / MLB PHOTOS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Representatives from the league, all 30 major league clubs, MLB Advanced Media, MLB Network, and 10 minor league teams attended the summit, which was co-hosted by the Chicago White Sox. “It is in our self-interest to deal with the whole world, and diversity is really good business,” said White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

The event featured a keynote address by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and a panel discussion involving Reinsdorf, Atlanta Braves Chairman Emeritus Bill Bartholomay, Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall, New York Yankees President Randy Levine, Houston Astros President and CEO George Postolos and MLB Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Mariner.

“This is the first of its kind in sports, and [MLB’s diversity] numbers continue to grow with the help of our diversity committee,” Selig said. “While we have done well, we need to do better. It is not the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do.”

The summit is the latest diversity effort by MLB, joining the league’s long-standing Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities (RBI) program along with its Urban Youth Academy program that develops youth baseball facilities in inner cities.

With the Rev. Jesse Jackson seated in the front row of the convention center ballroom, Selig said he hoped to partner with other leagues to continue to grow minority and women participation in professional sports.

The summit was developed in part by Wendy Lewis, MLB’s senior vice president of diversity and strategic alliances, who said it was much broader than other sports-related job fairs.

“We wanted to connect folks with individual clubs as well as allowing them to find out more about our business,” Lewis said.

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