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Volume 23 No. 24
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NBA maintains strong grades for hiring practices

The NBA scored an A- grade overall for racial and gender hiring from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, despite a significantly higher standard for the test.

The NBA scored an A+ for racial hiring and a B for gender hiring on the 2020 report card issued by the institute, known as TIDES. Those are the same grades as the league scored the year before for racial and gender hiring, but the overall grade dipped slightly from an A last year.

“It’s absolutely, 100% attributable to the fact we changed the grading procedures,” said Richard Lapchick, TIDES director, of the decline in the NBA’s overall grade. “If we hadn’t changed the grading procedures … it would have been significantly higher.”

Beginning this year, Lapchick said, the racial and gender grade for team CEOs and presidents, and not just league executives, is being calculated into the overall grade. Leagues across sports, and especially the NBA, have been more aggressive in hiring diverse candidates than sports have been at the team level, Lapchick said.

Lapchick expects the grades at other leagues to go down as a result of the new grading system as well. The NBA has historically led all men’s leagues in both racial and gender hiring, and the grade is still very high, considering the tougher new standard, Lapchick said. “I think the NBA should be very happy with the report card,” he said. 

Oris Stuart, NBA chief people and inclusion officer, agreed that the new standard led to the lower overall grade. “We improved in 10 of the 14 categories that he measures and still went down,” Stuart said. 

Stuart said the NBA understood and appreciated the reasons for the tougher standards. Asked if he was happy about the overall grade, Stuart said, “I rarely use the term happy to refer to this kind of report or this kind of scorecard because, look, we have good performances in a few areas, but it is very clear we have work to do in a lot of areas as well, even in areas that we score positively.”

Among the categories where the NBA’s grades went up were racial hiring at the league office (A+) and gender hiring at the league office (B+). The lowest grades on the report card were a D+ for gender hiring for NBA team vice presidents and above and a C+ for gender hiring for NBA team management. All the other grades were A’s and B’s, with multiple A+ grades. 

Notably, the NBA’s gender grade improved from a 80.9 to a 82.0, the first increase in five years and something that NBA executives have been actively working to improve.

“We spent much of the last more than two years now meeting with our teams in their markets to have conversations around inclusive recruiting, inclusive retention, inclusive development, inclusive advancement,” Stuart said. “We have to keep doing more to make sure our environment is attractive to women and other people who are under-represented, and once they get into our organization that they feel like they are being treated fairly, that they are being rewarded in equal measure.”

TIDES also issues report cards for the NFL, the WNBA, MLB, MLS, college sports and sports media.