What happens when the NFL, MLB, NASCAR, PGA and more – join forces to discuss Diversity and Inclusion?

The fifth annual Sports Diversity and Inclusion Symposium was held at the NCAA headquarters in

Indianapolis. In partnership with the Diversity and Inclusion Sports Consortium, the NCAA’s Office of Inclusion hosted the event. Consortium members in attendance included Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, Minor League Baseball, NASCAR, the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, the PGA Tour, the United States Olympic Committee, the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, the United States Tennis Association and You Can Play.

“As a group, these national sports-related leagues, associations and organizations recognize and leverage the power of sport as a vehicle for increasing awareness and practice of diversity and inclusion in our society at large,” stated Dr. Bernard Franklin, Executive Vice President of Education and Community Engagement/Chief Inclusion Officer. “We celebrate the importance of inclusive environments and honor the role of sports in bringing individuals from all backgrounds together for common purposes.”

 The symposium provided a forum to discuss, evaluate and create solutions in effort to move towards greater diversity and inclusion in today’s sport culture.

After opening the conference with remarks from the NCAA and its Office of Inclusion, MLB and PGA of America, the first general session was titled “Reimaging Diversity and Inclusion”. Vincent R. Brown, Founder and President of V Randolph Brown Consulting, along with Janet B. Reid, of V Randolph Brown Consulting facilitated the session. The tandem created an interactive and insightful view of diversity and inclusion within organizations. They challenged the group to view diversity and inclusion in sport through both philosophical and scientific lenses. They also encouraged the attendees to reimagine diversity and inclusion beyond its standard focus on race and gender.

A second noteworthy program was a breakout session on diversity training, e-learning and staff education. The panel which was moderated by Floyd Keith CEO of PPA Professional Services. Wade Davis, Former NFL Player and Executive Director of You Can Play, Dr. Richard E. Lapchick, Founder and President of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, and Andrew Mac Intosh, Instructional Designer and Trainer for RISE were the noted panelists. For those who aren’t familiar Davis, he is a former NFL player who came out almost nine years after his playing career had ended. He now works with You Can Play, an advocacy group working for equality for LGBT athletes in sports. Lapchick is also a familiar name, as he is known for the “Lapchick reports” or Racial and Gender report cards that are issued each year and evaluate an assessment of hiring practices in coaching and sport management in professional and college sport.

All three panelists provided unique views and best practices for engaging staff and stakeholders in diversity and inclusion training. Most of the conversation centered around education and communication leading to dialogue about topics within diversity and inclusion which may not be comfortable. It was noted that through those uncomfortable conversations, education and advancement can occur.

Another highlight of the symposium was the general session “Muhammed Ali: Life, Advocacy and Legacy”. Floyd Keith again served as the moderator, while staff from the Muhammed Ali Center (Donald E. Lassere, President/CEO and Erin Herbert, Director of Programming) were panelists. This executive leadership staff from the Ali Center spoke about the life of the late boxing legend and how his legacy continues.

Experts panels, round table discussions and breakout sessions continued to shaped the remainder of  the two-day conference.  Among the many programs and topics were:

  • Effective Teamwork and Cross-Cultural Dexterity.

  • LGBT SportSafe Inclusion.

  • Advancing Women in Athletics Leadership.

  • Preparing our Workforce: Hiring, Retaining and Developing Diverse Talent.

  • Corporate Social Responsibility, Community Engagement and Social Presence.

  • Supplier Diversity and Strategic Sourcing

  • dis/Ability and Sport

  • Employee Resource and Affinity Groups

  • Engaging a Younger, More Diverse Fan Base

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