WNBA still No. 1 in hiring practices based on race and gender

CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — 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 institute’s director and lead author of the annual report, said the WNBA continues to lead the way in inclusive hiring practices based on race and gender across all professional leagues. The report marked the 18th consecutive year the WNBA has been awarded at least an A for its overall race, gender and combined grades.

“That’s pretty amazing,” Lapchick told The Associated Press. “It’s a great model for other sports competitions. … It shows a commitment from the top down, from the commissioner down. And it comes at a 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 bureau and professional team staff, according to the report. The lowest grade for racial hiring practices was for team presidents, where it received a C-.

The WNBA received an A+ for hiring men and women in seven categories: head coaches, assistant coaches, WNBA league bureau, team presidents, team vice presidents and above, team managers to senior directors, and professional team employees. Their lowest grades were B’s in the team owner and general manager categories.

The institute also evaluates the hiring practices based on race and gender 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 to come close to the WNBA was the NBA, which earned an A for racial recruiting practices this year.

The WNBA received the most A’s with 14 compared to the professional men’s leagues, and the fewest grades under an A with five.

Improvements this year include the percentage of female head coaches, which increased by 16.6 percentage points to 58.3% by 2022. That marked the first time since 2010 that women held more than half of the league’s head coaching positions.

Six of the league’s 12 coaches are black.

The number of women in office positions in the league rose from 65.4% to 69.4%. The number of women in competitive positions from managers to senior directors and professional staff positions has also all increased compared to last year.

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

“That’s impressive and bodes well for the future,” Laphick said.

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

The Institute publishes the Racial and Gender Report Card to indicate areas of improvement, stagnation, and decline in the composition of the professional and college sports personnel and to help improve integration in front office and college athletic department positions.

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