The NFL has implemented some changes to the Rooney Rule policy designed to further improve diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring practices.
The rule has been expanded to require teams to interview at least two outside minority candidates for general manager/executive football operations positions and all coordinator roles. Previously, the requirement was to interview one minority candidate outside of a team for open positions in those positions.
Vacancies for head coaches already fell under such requirements.
NFL clubs are now required to conduct an in-person interview for at least one outside minority candidate for each head coach or general manager. All coordinator and assistant general manager candidates may be interviewed virtually, but in-person interviews are encouraged.
“It’s about how we can make sure the line is strong with minority coaches and overall. Making sure everyone gets an opportunity, a look,” said Jonathan Bean, the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer.
“When you have a diverse list and you have more than one minority or diverse candidate … the chance that a candidate who is diverse will be interviewed increases exponentially. Maximize the opportunities and we also wanted to make sure that there was no case where there was only one different candidate that was interviewed. Research shows that a lot of times there can be a bias in that person being able to be hired and have a role.”
Bean stressed the importance of feedback after such interviews, no matter who the candidate is.
“One of the things that the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee recommended and accepted was the issue of feedback,” he explains. “We do not require feedback, but we strongly encourage all clubs to do so. Someone who’s interviewed for a role and doesn’t get it, it’s important for them to get that feedback so they have it for the next opportunity they get.”
The mechanisms for interviewing candidates for head coaches have also been changed. Teams will be allowed to conduct interviews for such a position during the final two weeks of the regular season with the consent of the employing club – while the head coaching position is vacant. These interviews can be done virtually.
Of course, there are no restrictions on applicants not recruited by any NFL teams.
The NFL is also creating additional education and training sessions on sexual harassment, discrimination and diversity, equity and inclusion following the investigation into workplace misconduct with the Washington football team.
“We must remain committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all,” says Bean. “We have to remain committed to conducting active and continuous training … This is not something we will ever lack urgency for.
“Recent things have brought to light the importance of this work, and this is an opportunity for the NFL to really step up and lead by example.” We won’t always be perfect, but we’ll strive to be, and you’ll always have a plan to move forward.
“We have to stay focused, be engaged with our communities, with all people, to show that football really is for everyone. When someone walks into our offices, they should feel that sense of belonging. When we don’t provide that, then we have to continue to have that kind of commitment.”