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Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier, left, talks with head coach Brian Flores at the team's NFL football training facility, in Davie, Fla. The report notes that more than 70 per cent of the players in the league are people of colour, representing a major discrepancy in comparison to the number of coaches and GMs who are people of colour.

The Associated Press

The NFL received its lowest overall score in racial and gender hiring practices in 15 years, according a new diversity report.

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released its annual racial and gender report card Wednesday, giving the NFL a B for racial hiring practices and a C-plus for gender hiring practices. This gave the NFL a combined B-minus grade for its overall score of 79.3 per cent, a notable decrease from its score of 81.6 per cent last year.

Most notably, the B for racial hiring practices broke a streak of nine consecutive years of earning an A-minus or higher. The NFL’s score for race was 82.3 per cent, 6.7 percentage points lower than last year’s score of 89 per cent. The score for gender was 76 per cent, a two-percentage-point increase from 2018.

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“Almost all of this is attributed to [a] drop in head coach of colour and general managers of colour, because we put additional weight on those positions,” TIDES director Dr. Richard Lapchick said.

He pointed out that there are currently only four people of colour in head coaching positions, down from a record-tying eight to start the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Also, there were only two GMs who are people of colour to start the 2019 season, a decrease from four in 2018 and six in 2017.

“That’s concerning,” Lapchick said.

In an attempt to progressively continue diversity and inclusion efforts, the NFL made improvements to the Rooney Rule forcing teams to go outside their own organizations to interview a candidate of colour or to interview a candidate who is on the league’s career development advisory panel list, Lapchick said.

He added that the NFL is preparing to announce an executive vice-president and chief people officer to strategically lead all of the various initiatives related to diversity and inclusion across the league. This role, previously held by Robert Gulliver, highlights the increased emphasis on continuing the League’s progress when it comes to improving diversity and inclusion as a workplace and in all aspects of its business, according to Lapchick.

He also said hiring trends tend to be cyclical, so he’s optimistic more people of colour will be added in the next hiring cycle in 2020. If not, he said, it might be time for players to get involved.

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The report notes that more than 70 per cent of the players in the league are people of colour, representing a major discrepancy in comparison to the number of coaches and GMs who are people of colour.

“I think the players will have to turn their attention to this if these numbers continue to carry on,” Lapchick said. “If you’re a team that hires a white coach, you won’t think about it. But put it in context of 32 teams, it is notable.”

For now, Lapchick notes in the study that “people of colour and women are seriously under-represented in significant decision-making positions at the team level.”

He said the NFL’s league office continues to effectively identify and hire people of colour at the vice-president and above level, but a lack of diversity at the club level in the same position remains. The study noted that at the league office, 22.5 per cent of people in positions of vice-presidents or above are people of colour, an increase from last year. In contrast, only 12.8 per cent are people of colour at the team level.

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