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Volume 22 No. 19
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Diversity on display as the CBS Sports executive team arrives in Atlanta for the Super Bowl

CBS ad sales chief Jo Ann Ross took the stage at her network’s Super Bowl party on Feb. 2 in Atlanta to introduce the evening’s musical act to a roomful of clients and guests.

 

Ross brought Meghan Trainor on stage with an intro about how the pop star, through her songs, empowers women.

 

The same could be said for CBS Sports, which descended on Atlanta with a group that included nearly two dozen women in senior positions — on-air, behind the camera and in the executive suite — and offers an example of the significant influence women have in the management of CBS Sports.

 

The diversity of CBS Sports’ work force in Atlanta runs counter to the image of the NFL as an old boys club. It also could be seen as a statement for a network that dealt with a high-profile sexual harassment scandal last year that led to Leslie Moonves’ resignation as network president.

 

For CBS Sports executives, it’s not just about the number of women who traveled to Atlanta. It’s about the senior positions they have.

 

Half of CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus’ senior management team are women: Executive Vice President of Operations and Engineering Patty Power; Executive Vice President of Marketing Kelly Dunne; Senior Vice President of Communications Jen Sabatelle; Senior Vice President of Human Resources Bryn Berglund; and Vice President of Business Affairs Deanna O’Toole.

 

“We believe that CBS Sports is a meritocracy; people get promoted based on performance,” McManus said. “Each person on my senior management team is there because they are the absolute best at what they do. Their performances speak for themselves.”

 

Here are some of the nearly two dozen women in senior positions who played key roles for CBS Sports during the Super Bowl.
Photo: CBS Sports

McManus pointed to O’Toole as an example. She was a manager of business affairs when McManus started at CBS in 1996. McManus said that every time he promoted O’Toole, she stepped up to the challenge to the point where she is the one tasked with reviewing all Super Bowl advertisements before they run.

 

“We started out having her do small deals, then we had her do bigger and bigger deals,” McManus said.

 

It is the same story with Power, who worked her way from CSTV to running the division’s operations and engineering department. In Atlanta, Power was responsible for setting up the entire technical infrastructure for CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network’s entire operation and setup.

 

“Every time I gave her a new role, she did a first-rate job,” McManus said. “She was the logical person to replace Ken Aagaard overseeing operations three years ago.”

 

The number of women in senior positions at CBS Sports is not due to quotas or a written policy. It happens organically. 

 

“It’s a huge source of pride for all of us at CBS Sports,” CBS Sports President David Berson said. “These women are in these roles because they earned it and are the best people for the job.”


John Ourand can be reached at jourand@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ.