A group of sports business executives including NBA G-League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Phoenix Coyotes CEO Xavier Gutierrez and NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts have formed a new group amid expanding diversity and inclusion efforts across pro sports.
The twenty-eight member Pro Sports Assembly, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit, aims to increase diverse and inclusive leadership across sports. Its goal, which it hopes to achieve by 2030, is to achieve parity in opportunity, pay and leadership.
“It is important for us to identify and develop the next generation of our industry’s top talent,” San Francisco 49ers Chief Marketing Officer Alex Chang said in statement. “This requires breaking down traditions, norms and biases that currently exist – and replacing them with new and refined processes that will help guide decisions impacting the future of professional sports and the career paths of its employees.”
The formation of Pro Sports Assembly follows the trend of organizations professional sports leagues seeking to increase diversity across leagues. Teams and leagues facing an increased amount of pressure to have a more diverse workplace are seeking out advising and consulting agencies to assist in hiring. Pro Sports Assembly now hopes to be a centerpiece of the effort to bring more diversity to top-level positions.
“We organized our Founding Boards to represent the diversity that our industry-at-large needs to see. In order to truly advance collectively – we must use an equity lens in leadership,” Shareef Abdur-Rahim said. The group sees sports as a means to drive innovation, capture new market and increase brand loyalty for companies.
During the Assembly’s first year, the group intends to build out its network and provide professional development opportunities including forums, workshops and discussions. The group will also commission research and share tools to be a distributed across the sports industry.
“The people who work for professional sports teams, leagues and unions now have a place to connect and collaborate on the critical issues facing our industry,” Laura Dixon, Head of External Relations for Spurs Sports & Entertainment said. “The larger our membership, the more impactful we can be in our purpose of advancing diverse, productive and inclusive leadership. The power of pro sports is truly in its people.”
(This story has been updated with a quote from Laura Dixon in the last paragraph.)