INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 06: A detailed view of the NFL logo on the field before the game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots at SoFi Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 06: A detailed view of the NFL logo on the field before the game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots at SoFi Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Research

How NFL Teams Can Be More Inclusive And Uphold the Spirit of the Rooney Rule

Why this matters

It’s easy for organizations – whether they are an NFL team, a fortune 500 company or a small business – to fall into old habits of recruiting and hiring people who look like them or who are familiar to them through social circles and business networks. Breaking away from these routines can help expand the diversity within your organization while bringing new insights and perspectives to the table.

The Rooney Rule has not led to the level of impact that its creators in the NFL hoped it might. This was the subject of the February Field Study at the Global Sport Institute and accompanying digital issue here at Global Sport Matters. In an open letter to NFL owners, Global Sport Institute CEO Kenneth Shropshire wrote, "we can use data as a weapon, we can use litigation to pry open more truths, but we can also shift our minds to the matter's real issue: a continued denial of Black opportunity."

As of the 2020-21 season, ten NFL teams had never hired a coach of Color on a permanent basis. In hopes to improve the diversity of the league and the world of sport more broadly, the Global Sport Institute has provided a series of Best Practices for owners, executives and search firms as they seek out the next generation of coaches across the NFL and sport generally.

With the 2021 NFL Draft upon us and a new NFL league year approaching, the sport remains in the bright spotlight as America's most popular pastime. Beyond football, these hiring practices can lead to a more equitable workplace as well as a more diverse set of workers in an organization. Will practices that were intended to be adopted along with the Rooney Rule take root over time? This is something we often ponder.

Keeping all this in mind, here are our NFL Field Study Best Practices for 2021 and beyond:

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How the NFL Moves Forward

18 years after the inception of the Rooney Rule, data shows a lack of forward progress when it comes to diversity at the highest levels of leadership in the NFL.

What actions are necessary to move the chains on safety, equity, and inclusion in the league?