August Program - Home Court Advantage: Promoting Pro-Level Diversity
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Where: Byron's South End
Sports legend is made of professional teams and athletes who become champions of their leagues, creating passionate fans who buy into their stories of persistence, resilience and athleticism. In stark contrast, when a number of sport franchisees came under fire in 2014 for actions that players and owners took off the court, these once passionate fans became angry and disenfranchised. That is, until the Atlanta Hawks faced off against its toughest pre-season challenge in club history: racism. Set against the sensational backdrop of the widely reported remarks of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling coupled with Atlanta being the civil rights capital of the nation, news quickly spread when leaks in the media reported that the Atlanta Hawks were guilty of using discriminatory and hurtful language. This included emails that had been sent by the majority owner that referenced the fan base of the Hawks as being "too black" and the General Manager's comments from a scouting report saying that one of the top recruits the team was considering had a "little too much African in him." Facing damning headlines and blistering commentary on social channels, the Hawks put a plan in place to rebound from the crisis, defend against misinformation and position the team to score points in the court of public opinion. What ensued was a focused, deliberate and sincere effort by the Hawks to win back the heart and soul of "The City Too Busy to Hate." Soon after this situation, Nzinga Shaw left her position as Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Edelman and was hired as the Hawks (and NBA's) first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. Currently, as an advocate for diversity in sports, Shaw's efforts enabled the Hawks to undergo important internal changes, protect and grow its fan base and build a stronger bond with the community. It's too early to tell if the Hawks will win the championship next year in the NBA but it's clear they have Played it Forward Against Racism with Shaw leading the way. They owned up to committing a foul, but they also committed to practicing diversity and inclusion moving forward, steps that have already made them an early favorite among fans in Atlanta. Shaw will address the importance of multi-dimensional diversity and provide participants with actionable steps that they can take to incorporate inclusive leadership skills into their strategic business operations.