Study: WNBA still No. 1 in racial, gender hiring practices

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FILE - Las Vegas Aces' Kelsey Plum drives against the Dallas Wings during the second half of a WNBA basketball game June 5, 2022, in Las Vegas. Plum has been elected to serve as first vice president of the WNBA Players Association. It is her first term on the WNBPA Executive Committee. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport announced Wednesday that the WNBA received an A for its overall racial and gender practices for 2022. That includes an A+ for racial hiring and an A for gender hiring, according to the annual report.

Richard Lapchick, the director of the institute and primary author of the annual report, said the WNBA continues to lead the way with inclusive racial and gender hiring practices across all professional leagues. The report marked the 18th consecutive year the WNBA has received at least an A for its overall race, gender and combined grades.

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“That’s pretty amazing,” Lapchick told The Associated Press. “It's a great model for other sports leagues. ... It shows a commitment from the top, from the commissioner on down. And it comes at time when Brittney Griner has returned home."

The WNBA earned an A+ racial score in the following categories: players, head coaches, assistant coaches, WNBA league office, and professional team staff, according the report. The lowest grade for racial hiring practices was for team presidents, where it received a C-.

The WNBA received an A+ for gender hiring in seven categories: head coaches, assistant coaches, WNBA league office, team presidents, team vice presidents and above, team managers to senior directors, and professional team staff. Their lowest grades were B's in the team owners and general managers categories.

The institute also evaluates the racial and gender hiring practices of four men's professional leagues: the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer, along with the WNBA.

The only men’s league close in comparison to the WNBA was the NBA, which earned an A this year for racial hiring practices.

The WNBA received the greatest number of A’s with 14 compared to the men's professional leagues, and the least number of grades below an A with five.

Among the improvements this year include the percentage of women head coaches, which increased by 16.6 percentage points to 58.3% in 2022. That marked the first time since 2010 that women filled more than half of the league's head coaching positions.

Six of the league's 12 coaches are Black.

The number of women holding league office positions increased from 65.4% to 69.4%. The number of women in league office as managers to senior directors and professional staff roles all increased from last year, too.

Currently, 75% of the team president positions in the WNBA are held by women.

“That is impressive and augurs well for the future," Laphick said.

The percentage of Black people in positions of vice president and above increased by 5.2 percentage points to 22.4% in 2022.

The institute publishes the racial and gender report card to indicate areas of improvement, stagnation, and regression in the composition of professional and college sports’ personnel and to contribute to the improvement of integration in front office and college athletics department positions.


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