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Volume 21 No. 42
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Report gives NBA high grades for diversity hiring

Oris Stuart is the NBA’s chief diversity and inclusion officer.
Photo: NBA

The NBA continues to be an industry leader in diversity and gender hiring, earning high grades in a report compiled by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida.


The 2018 NBA Racial and Gender Report card, created by the institute known as TIDES, gives the NBA an A+ for its racial hiring practices and a B for its gender hiring practices. The league’s overall grade was an A.


The annual report card tracks gender and diversity among all owners, general managers, players, coaches and full-time front-office staff from all 30 NBA teams as well as all professional staff at the NBA’s New York headquarters. It does not include WNBA or G-League team staff in its hiring analysis. TIDES produces the same reports for MLB, the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLS, college sports and sports media.


The NBA’s scores rank the highest of men’s sports for racial and gender hiring practices, according to Richard Lapchick, the primary author of the study and director of TIDES.


“Since we have been doing this report, they have led all leagues in race and gender,” Lapchick said. “They are moving to a different stratosphere. The NBA has been in the habit of picking the best people, which often leads to great diversity.”


The NBA league office has the highest percentage of people of color in men’s professional sports at 36.4 percent. The professional staff at the NBA office has the best representation of women in men’s professional sports at 39.6 percent.


At the team level, the percentage of people of color among general managers increased to 20 percent in the 2017-18 season, compared to 10 percent in the previous season.


“[NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver continues to be strong in advocating that they will have a better business if there is more diversity and that is reflected in the NBA being the primary league to give players voices to talk about social justice issues and platforms,” Lapchick said. “The relationship between the league and the players is at an all-time high. That is a direct reflection of having a diverse senior leadership among teams.”


The one area Lapchick sees as a challenge for the NBA is to increase its gender hiring score, which slipped slightly from the 2016-17 season but still ranks as the highest in men’s professional sports.


“It is something they have to pay attention to,” he said. “It’s not a big concern.”


Oris Stuart, NBA senior vice president, chief diversity and inclusion officer, said the NBA’s grades continue to reflect the league’s longtime focus on diversity.


“We recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion and it is something that is part of our DNA,” he said. “The grades you see are a reflection of our long-term commitment to the principles of inclusion and fairness and the recognition of this drives our vision forward.”


The NBA continues to focus on improving its gender hiring grade, particularly at the team level.


“It is such a small shift that I consider it flat year-to-year but there is work to do, let’s be clear,” Stuart said. “There is work to do around creating opportunities for more women, not only on the business side, but also on the basketball side. We know we can do better and we are working on it.”


The league partners with a number of organizations for diverse talent recruitment and development, including Jopwell, an online minority-focused career advancement platform.


“We want to be inclusive in everything we do, including recruiting,” Stuart said.


“We are working every day on identifying sources of talent that can help us increase our diversity and we want to continue to retain and develop talent not just at the league office but across our teams.”