Black Women Founders Launch Pipeline Program to Increase Inclusion in the Sports Industry
Despite the high number of Black professional athletes in the major American leagues, there has historically been a dearth of executives of color in the front offices, at all levels. Combatting these disheartening statistics, Jaia Thomas and Shaina Wiel, founders of Diverse Representation and Minorities in Sports, respectively, launched the Diverse Sports Executives Pipeline—a first-of-its-kind initiative designed to train and equip professionals from diverse cultural backgrounds for executive roles across all professional sports teams, leagues, and organizations.
The NFL just had its first Black president of a team in league history appointed in 2020: Jason Wright of the Washington Football Team. Despite a majority of the players being Black, not surprisingly, over 85% of C-suite executives in the NFL are white. These numbers are similar in the other professional leagues, teams, and organizations as reported by The Institute for Diversity and Equity in Sports over the past several years. The Diverse Sports Executives’ Pipeline Program seeks to close this racial gap and ensure that the diversity on the field and on the court is properly reflected in the C-suite and executive offices.
Ten professionals will be selected to participate in the first cohort of the immersive three-month tuition-free program. Participants will not only be paired with a mentor (who is a current executive in the sports industry) but they will also participate in a series of workshops, case studies, and one-on-one career development. Members of the National Society of Black Sports Professionals, founded in 2006 with almost 10,000 members on LinkedIn, will assist in making the selection of the final 10 participants.
“Black players generate an enormous amount of revenue for the sports ecosystem. Yet, we are still missing from a lot of the leadership and decision-making roles,” said Jaia Thomas, Esq., president and CEO of Diverse Representation. Diverse Representation provides the first-ever comprehensive directory of Black agents, attorneys, managers, and publicists across the country and curates various programs, events, and diversity initiatives. She shared, “I see this program as critical to creating greater racial equity in the sports industry.”
“For far too long the conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion in relation to the sports industry hasn’t included individuals of color on the business side,” said Shaina Wiel, founder of Minorities in Sports. “Minorities in Sports is proud to collaborate with Diverse Representation on the Diverse Sports Executives Pipeline Program aimed at tackling just that. We look forward to using this program to get one step closer to a better and more diverse workforce especially at the executive level.” The Minorities in Sports Business Network (MiS) is a national networking organization of over 1,000 professionals of color within the sports business industry. MiS aims to create and foster an equitable workforce within teams, agencies, leagues, governing bodies, unions, and sports adjacent companies.
Applications for the program opened May 10, 2021 (and close on May 24, 2021). The program begins
on July 1, 2021. For more information, visit www.diverserepresentation.com or