WNBA earns an A-plus in female and minority representation
by Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times
The WNBA is deemed the top professional sports league in women’s and minority representation for the second year in a row, according to a study released Thursday — a finding that league President Donna Orender said is a “validation of the good work that we do.”
The league earned a combined grade of A-plus in an annual report on race and gender in the past two years, marking the sixth time the WNBA reached that mark. The league also received an A-plus in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006 — a grade no other professional sports league has reached once.
The study found the WNBA remained the lone professional sports league that had a percentage increase in 2008 in women and minority representation. That included a 10% increase for women head coaches (46% overall), a 10% increase for women chief executive/president (43% overall), a 10% increase for African American general managers (33% overall) and a 2% increase for African American head coaches (38% overall).
“It’s pretty evident we’ve been able to find quality people that happened to be in those categories,” said Orender, the only woman president of a professional sports league.
The representation in team vice presidents was the only category to score below an A. It earned a C-minus in race, with four African American team vice presidents, and a B-minus in gender for having 20 women vice presidents.
The latest report is a bearer of good news for a league that’s experienced numerous economic challenges this past year. The Houston Comets, one of the WNBA’s original franchises and winner of the league’s first four championships, folded in the off-season after new ownership couldn’t be found. Teams also trimmed their roster sizes from 13 to 11. Orender mentioned increases in attendance, sponsorship and viewership and described the WNBA as a “sustainable league.”
Lapchick said the WNBA’s current challenges likely wouldn’t hinder its diverse hiring practices.
“There was an old saying in the civil rights movement that it could hurt because they’d be the last hired and first fired,” Lapchick said. “That doesn’t apply here and impact any particular group because the WNBA is used to getting the best people and interviewing all candidates.”