By Steve Reed, AP Sports Writer
The NFL received its lowest overall score in racial and gender hiring practices in 15 years, according a new diversity report.
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport released its annual racial and gender report card Oct. 30, giving the NFL a B for racial hiring practices and a C-plus for gender hiring practices. This gave the NFL a combined B-minus grade for its overall score of 79.3 percent, a notable decrease from its score of 81.6 percent last year.
Most notably, the B for racial hiring practices broke a streak of nine consecutive years of earning an A-minus or higher. The NFL’s score for race was 82.3 percent, 6.7 percentage points lower than last year’s score of 89 percent. The score for gender was 76 percent, a two-percentage point increase from 2018.
“Almost all of this is attributed to drop in head coach of color and general managers of color, because we put additional weight on those positions,” Lapchick told The Associated Press.
Lapchick noted there are currently only four people of color in head coaching positions, down from a record-tying eight to start the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Also, there were only GMs who are people of color to start the 2019 season, a decrease from four in 2018 and six in 2017.
“That’s concerning,” Lapchick said.
In an attempt to progressively continue diversity and inclusion efforts, the NFL made improvements to the Rooney Rule forcing teams to go outside their own organizations to interview a candidate of color or to interview a candidate who is on the league’s career development advisory panel list, Lapchick said.
Lapchick also noted that NFL is preparing to announce an executive vice president and chief people officer to strategically lead all of the various initiatives related to diversity and inclusion across the league. This role, previously held by Robert Gulliver, highlights the increased emphasis on continuing the League’s progress when it comes to improving diversity and inclusion as a workplace and in all aspects of its business, according to Lapchick.
Lapchick also said hiring trends tend to be cyclical, so he’s optimistic more people of color will be added in the next hiring cycle in 2020.
If not, he said, it might be time for players to get involved.
The report notes that more than 70 percent of the players in the league in a league are people of color, representing a major discrepancy in comparisons to the number of coaches and general managers who are people of color.
“I think the players will have to turn their attention to this if these numbers continue to carry on,” Lapchick said. “If you’re a team that hires a white coach, you won’t think about it. But put it in context of 32 teams, it is notable.”
For now, Lapchick notes in the study that “people of color and women are seriously under-represented in significant decision-making positions at the team level.”
He said the NFL’s league office continues to effectively identify and hire people of color at the vice president and above level but a lack of diversity at the club level in the same position remains. The study noted that at the league office 22.5 percent of people in positions of vice presidents or above are people of color, an increase from last year. In contrast, only 12.8 percent are people of color at the team level.