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Volume 23 No. 14
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Report gives NFL lower grades for racial and gender hiring; league emphasizes commitment

The NFL’s combined racial and gender hiring score for the 2019 season has dropped to its lowest level since 2004, according to data compiled by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

 

The 2019 NFL Racial and Gender Report Card, created by the institute known as TIDES, gives the NFL a combined B- for racial and gender hiring practices, down from a B in 2018. TIDES gave the NFL a 79.3% percent score for its overall racial and gender hiring efforts, down from 81.6% last year. This year’s combined score is the lowest the league has posted since TIDES began its reporting 15 years ago.

This year’s score of 82.3% for racial hiring is down from last year’s score of 89%, breaking a streak of nine consecutive years of the league earning at least an A- grade in racial hiring practices. The NFL in 2019 earned a C+, or a 76% score, in gender hiring practices, up from 74% last year.

Affecting the combined score is a drop in the number of coaches and general managers of color in 2019. The league began the 2019 season with four head coaches of color compared to eight at the start of last season. There were only two GMs of color at the start of this season compared to four at the start of the 2018 season, according to the report.

 “There are good areas that have taken place, but the two most negative are the head coach and general manager positions,” said Richard Lapchick, the primary author of the report and director of TIDES. “We weight them heavily so they had an impact. The NFL at the league level is paying attention to the decline. While the numbers are cyclical, clearly there is a lot of concern right now.”

The NFL released this statement about the report: “The NFL has experienced diversity and inclusion as good business. Our long-standing and ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion is reflected in gender hiring increases at the league office as well as in gender and underrepresented minority hiring increases among club leadership. Even with this progress, we know that diversity and inclusion are not about a point-in-time snapshot.

“The Rooney Rule, which has been increasingly adopted in both the public and private sectors as an industry best practice, is just one example of our long-term commitment. There is still work to be done and our progress in some areas reinforces our determination to work even harder in other areas to continue building a diverse and inclusive workplace across all aspects of our business.”

The NFL showed improvement at the league office in gender hiring, with the percentage of women at the league this year reaching a record 36.8%. Lapchick said the percentage of people of color in senior administrative positions at the team level increased to 19.4% from 16.2% last year.

The NFL is close to hiring an executive vice president and chief people officer to lead diversity and inclusion efforts, according to the report. The league also has named Samantha Rapoport as senior director of diversity and inclusion.