*If you have ever dreamed of working in the front office of a major league sports team, you may get the chance to show off your chops with Major League Baseball.
Earlier this month, the league began taking applications from college students graduating in 2018 and recent college graduates for its MLB Diversity Fellowship Program. The initiative, which hopes to accept 23 people (20 at the Club level and three at the Office of the Commissioner) is for people of color and/or women.
With only three GMs and three managers who are non-white and a small number of women in top operations spots, MLB has their work cut out for them, but they are up for the challenge.
“I’m sure you’re aware that MLB has had a long history in diversity inclusion that goes beyond Jackie Robinson,” Renée Tirado, MLB’s Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Diversity & Inclusion, told the EUR in a recent interview.
“We had a diversity department for over 15 years, fully staffed,” said Tirado. “We had a robust prior diversity program where we invested over a billion dollars in minority, women, and veteran owned businesses over the past 20 years or so. This is just the 2.0 of that legacy. We’re focusing a little bit more on talent and creating a pipeline for new talent to join the ranks of baseball.”
She continued, “We had to take a self-assessment and look at where our gaps were. Were we maximizing the talent out there? Were we fishing where the fish are? We weren’t. This particular fellowship program was to serve that purpose especially with respect to front office and baseball operations opportunities where you have those high optic roles and the opportunity for longevity.”
One of the main challenges for diversity at the MLB has been how it positions itself to people of color and women.
“We’ve been very lucky,” admits Tirado. “We’re well-known. We don’t have to advertise a lot. We get very many (diverse) applications organically. But we haven’t been as strategic around how we’re talking to different audiences that have a different perspective and want to hear different messaging to make it attractive to them.”
Another challenge Tirado faced in the past six months is appealing to affinity organizations, universities, and colleges
“A lot of people don’t understand our business model, she added. “For whatever reason, the certain demographics I’m talking to don’t really understand all the components of making baseball this amazing sport. They don’t realize that we have a very robust analytics department and that we recruit aggressively for economics majors.”
There is also room for non-traditional business disciplines at MLB. They are looking at all majors. When Tirado and her team can get that across it makes their job easier.
“I think I’m seeing more aha moments with women and diverse audiences. They’ll say, ‘Oh, ok, I see where I can fit in here.”
While Tirado has quite the task, she wants to make it clear that the initiative is not at all about affirmative action.
“We’re not hiring anyone because they’re a woman,” said Tirado. “We’re not hiring anyone because they’re African American. There are no quotas here. The reality is that we have 23 spots, if I don’t get 23 candidates, we won’t have 23 fellows. That’s it. They have to make sense. They have to be smart. They have to be bright. They have to be able to support the business because at the end of the day it’s about delivering the best product possible.”
The deadline for the MLB Diversity Fellowship Program application is Friday, November 17, 2017 by 5pm EST. For more information and to apply, go here MLB.com/Fellowship.