The National Hockey League (NHL) announced it will be launching initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion after a study found that 84% of its workforce is white.
This isn’t exactly surprising considering 90% of the league’s players are also white, as are most coaches, general managers, officials, and fans.
Still, the league wants to do something about it.
This data was part of a baseline study to help the league formulate a diversity and inclusion strategy.
Kim Davis, the NHL’s executive vice president of social impact, growth, and legislative affairs talked about the study alongside NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“The whole purpose behind doing a workforce study is to provide a baseline: a fact-based baseline so that you can begin to develop very intentional and specific strategies around where you need to hire, how you need to hire, how you need to improve your brand.”
Davis also mentioned the league is happy with the survey finding that 38% of the league’s workforce is made up of women.
The league will also be handing the data they collected from their survey of 4,200 league and team employees to the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. The institute gives out grades for leagues based on their hiring processes.
Bettman stated that the league’s report will be used to create policies and programs “that will produce the greatest impacts in the years to come.”
NHL Already Has Diversity And Inclusion Programs In Place
The NHL has been making diversity and inclusion pushes for years. The main struggle is that hockey has always had trouble making breakthroughs along socio-economic lines. Some of the plans are aimed at doing just that.
Davis mentioned that some of the points outlined in the league’s report are already being implemented.
“A number of those steps are already in progress,” Davis said. “You can’t expect to recruit (Black, Indigenous and people of color) folks to work in the league if you don’t at the same time have your stadium fan code of conduct underway so people feel like the sport is really serious about growing the fan base.”
There’s no doubt the league’s fanbase needs to grow, but every league would say that. No one would ever say, “Nope, what we need is fewer butts in seats and eyes on TV.”
Still, it seems like the NHL is self-flagellating for not being diverse enough, even when it meets the mark according to standards used to judge other leagues.
Population statistics are often used to determine whether a group of people — be it a corporation or a movie cast — is “properly” diverse. However, more often than not, when we talk about sports, we use the player population.
If the league’s workforce (at least racially) aligns with the player population — a measuring stick the NFL is often criticized for not meeting — what is the concern?
If you go by that, the NHL is doing fine.
Which begs the question is this an actual attempt at diversifying intended to grow the league and the sport of hockey at large? That’d be a good thing, to help the league continue to bring new talent, fans, and revenue.
Or is it just another example of the kind of lip service leagues and corporations unveil to keep left-wing mobs at bay?
Honestly, who’s to say?
It can be tough to tell these days.
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