NEW INITIATIVE CHALLENGES SPORTS BUSINESS TO PROMOTE DEI
By Jared Shanker
Feb. 25, 2022
Caption: (Left to right) Max Siegel, Danita Johnson and Jason Wright sit on a panel at Representation Matters: Super Bowl LVI.
Issues around diversity and inclusion in sports that have existed for decades necessitate change. To spark increases in workforce diversity and challenge the sports business industry to be more inclusive, there must be solutions-focused dialogue.
As part of RISE’s Super Bowl LVI programming and using one of sports’ landmark events as a backdrop, RISE and non-profit partner Pro Sports Assembly created Representation Matters: Super Bowl LVI. The Downtown Los Angeles half-day event, which will be only the first of many such planned engagements to identify solutions over the coming years, brought together leading professionals and executives to examine the state of the industry. Through panels, discussions and networking opportunities, the event provided immediate, actionable steps for a room full of the decision makers who will shape what this new future of the industry looks like at this critical inflection point.
The list of panelists and speakers included:
- Jason Wright, president of the NFL’s Washington Commanders
- Danita Johnson, president of business operations of MLS’ D.C. United
- Max Siegel, CEO of USA Track & Field and owner of Rev Racing
- Renee Washington, COO of USA Track & Field
- Jon Diament, EVP, Chief Revenue Officer at Turner Sports
- Kevin Griffin, SVP, Marketing & Brand Strategy of MLS’ D.C. United
- Abe Madkour, executive editor of Sports Business Journal, Sports Business Daily/Global
- Tara August, SVP of Talent Relations & Special Projects at Turner Sports
- Ann Seeney, VP of Human Resources at the St. Louis Cardinals
- Sean Singletary, VP of Scout Sports and Entertainment at Horizon Media
- China Jude, VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion of the NFL’s Denver Broncos
- Iris Diaz, CMO at the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks
- Johnita Due, SVP and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of WarnerMedia
With the subject of diversity hiring in sports receiving increased attention, there was also dialogue around inclusivity and retaining talent from communities of color.
“We can bring people in, but how do we also keep people in the industry?,” Johnson said. “How do we continue to create pipelines? How are we reaching out to new industries across the board to develop talent to bring into our industry? Then once they’re there, how do we keep them there? What are the programs around retention? How are we making them feel connected to our organizations?”
“I think it’s good for business for the industry that we think differently, act differently and we continue to grow,” Diament said.