RALEIGH, N.C. – A diversity report released Monday on Major League Baseball finds the sport remaining largely on the same footing from the previous year in racial and gender hiring practices, with the biggest area of concern coming in the front offices of league teams.
The annual report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida found slight fluctuations in scores for racial and gender hiring. The grade for racial hiring was an A-minus with 89 points, up a point from a year earlier, while the grade for gender hiring dropped one point to a 70 for a C.
The overall score was unchanged at 79, a B-minus.
Richard Lapchick, the institute’s director and the lead report author, has praised racial and gender hiring practices at the league’s central office as the result of diversity initiatives directed by Renee Tirado, a league vice president serving as MLB’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. The goal now, Lapchick said, is having that overall emphasis “filtered down to the teams in a strong way so that the pipeline is built in those teams.”
“Most of the senior positions are occupied by white men, and that’s something that affects the game,” he said. “It affects who’s on the teams, it affects how they’re perceived in the community.
“Young people are attuned to it, and if they’re deciding to play a sport, and they see not very many people who look like them in Major League Baseball ... they’re going to choose the other sports. And that’s going to impact how many players are playing as well as all the other data in the report.”
The report relied primarily on data as of Dec. 31 that was collected by the MLB central office and provided to TIDES researchers.
The league’s central office received an A-plus for racial hiring and a C for gender hiring for the second consecutive year, though their scores dipped slightly. The league also received an overall A-plus for what the report called “impressive” diversity initiatives.
But the report said team levels “remain far behind” the league’s main office.
Teams received a B for racial hiring in senior administration and a B-plus among professional administration levels. Those grades were lower for gender hiring, with women making up 28.6% of team senior administration positions (earning a C-minus) and 26% of professional administration positions (earning a D-plus).
The Boston Red Sox led the league with 10 women in vice president positions or higher, while the San Francisco Giants were next with eight, according to the study.
“It’s kind of a circle that goes around,” Lapchick said. “Unless there’s a breakout across the league with improvement, it’s going to be very difficult to change the cycle.”
The study didn’t include 2019 numbers on the small percentage of black players on opening day rosters. In 2018, that number was 8.4 percent, which was up from 7.7 percent in 2017 but far below the 18-percent mark of 1991, according to the study.
TIDES released the report as MLB observes Jackie Robinson Day at ballparks across the country in honor of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.