Major League Soccer

Study: MLS improves racial hiring, slides in gender hiring


AP Sports Writer

A diversity report shows improved racial hiring practices for Major League Soccer but also highlighted a continuing decline in gender hiring efforts.

The annual report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida on Wednesday gave MLS an A with 93.9 points for racial hiring in 2019 for its highest score in 15 years.

But the gender score of 72 points for a C grade fell for the third straight time, down from 76.8 points in 2018 and 81 points as recently as 2016.

The overall grade for MLS was a B at 82.9 points, falling from a B-plus and 85 points in 2018.

TIDES director Richard Lapchick, the lead report author, called lower gender hiring numbers across men's professional sports a "systemic problem."

"When we've talked about diversity and inclusion in sports and in society, the heavy emphasis has been on racial diversity and I don't think there's enough emphasis on gender diversity," Lapchick said in an interview with The Associated press. "I think we have to balance that emphasis.

"While we can continue to improve racial hiring practices, we can't afford to have gender hiring practices continue to go down. We have to emphasize that we have to hire more women, not just more people of color."

For the study, TIDES reviewed data from the 2019 season for a wide range of roles. Those included team general managers, players, coaches, team presidents, athletic trainers, and executive-level team managers such as chief financial officers or chief operating officers.

The report focused concern at the team level compared to the league's headquarters, which received an A-plus in racial hiring and a B in gender hiring. The league also earned an A-plus for diversity initiatives for the 10th straight season.

Yet gender scores, in particular, were lower at the team level: a C-plus for professional administration positions and an F for senior administration roles. Those were both lower than the corresponding racial scores (A-minus in team professional administration, B in senior team administration).

"The league office continues to set a good example but I don't know whether the teams at the local level are doing enough to going to recruit at places where the person might not be in the world of sports but would have the skillset like accounting societies or finance societies," Lapchick said, adding: "Even if they don't have any kind of sports background, they'd have the skills to occupy those front-office jobs."


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Updated November 13, 2019

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