NFL Short on Specifics in Media Hiring Practice Improvements
One NFL Official Seemed Dismissive in Talks with NABJ
WASHINGTON, D.C. — News that attorneys general in New York and California are investigating the National Football League (NFL) for alleged workplace discrimination and a hostile environment comes on the heels of a National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) meeting with NFL officials. Last week’s announcement by both attorneys general raises some of the same concerns expressed by NABJ and our members. A joint statement released by the attorneys general said, “No person should ever have to endure harassment, discrimination, or objectification in the workplace …. No matter how powerful or influential, no institution is above the law, and we will ensure the NFL is held accountable.”
NABJ’s biggest concern is the lack of employment of Black professionals in the news and communication departments throughout the organization. However, the pervasiveness of the alleged exclusion of Black employees overall is disturbing as well.
Here are some of NABJ’s concerns derived from sources:
- Although more than 70 percent of players in the NFL are Black, the NFL acknowledges the news department lacks a Black manager. Sources add there is no Black copy editor nor Black full-time employees on its news desk.
- Sources also indicate that out of 200 staff members in NFL Films, only one is a Black woman.
- According to NFL sources, NFL Films also has zero Black full-time employees in their technical and administrative departments.
It is important to note that many news and media roles are not technically called “news” positions, though they serve the same function as in the news and media industry. They are jobs for which NABJ members uniquely qualify but are listed differently and categorized across diverse company silos.
“We are disappointed but even more committed to keeping this issue at the forefront — especially in light of our recent conversations and investigations regarding alleged discrimination within the NFL,” said NABJ President Dorothy Tucker. “We demand immediate attention to correcting these inequities.”
During a conversation with NABJ, NFL Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Dasha Smith appeared to repeat ill-conceived, rehearsed public relations lines without details on how the NFL will deal with employment diversity deficiencies. NABJ’s concern is especially acute regarding questions about the dearth of Black media managers and others in upper-level, decision-making positions. Smith’s unacceptable excuse for why the NFL couldn’t move on improving diversity numbers among Black employees is that there were few openings and low turnover. There was no explanation given for how the NFL allowed the practice of exclusion to operate over the years.
Hans Schroeder, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NFL Media, agreed to have another discussion about the status of hiring over the course of the year. NABJ will regularly report on both attorneys general’s investigations and hiring updates that address the deficiency issues in NFL news and news-related content across the country.