By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Major League Baseball’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is hosting its annual “Unfiltered Series” featuring conversations with MLB’s Chief Baseball Development Officer and former Los Angeles Angels General Manager, Tony Reagins.
The conversations, which began on Friday, December 18, include leadership from The Players Alliance, including retired star Curtis Granderson, Chris Dickerson, and Chris Young.
The panel series, which is typically held during Baseball’s Winter Meetings to provide attendees with an opportunity to hear perspectives from individuals throughout the sport on diversity issues, will be streamed on MLB.com on Friday and Monday, December 21.
Granderson, Dickerson, and Young are expected to highlight Monday’s panel that MLB Network Analyst Harold Reynolds will moderate.
The athletes plan to discuss the goals of The Player’s Alliance. Conversations will focus on the significant issues related to diversity at all levels of the sport and how this past year has inspired the future actions of The Players Alliance and MLB.
The “Unfiltered Series” follows several virtual symposia hosted by MLB’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion centered on professional development for women, in both front-office business & baseball operations roles, and supporting diverse-owned businesses.
These efforts included MLB hosting the Katy Feeney Leadership Symposium to focus on career advancement for current women executives in baseball.
Since its inception, nearly 120 women have participated in the program, coming from various business facets, including Baseball Operations, Marketing, Community Relations, Human Resources, Legal, and Communications.
The event, administered by the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Education Program, was held in honor of Katy Feeney.
She was an influential baseball executive and mentor throughout her 40-year career.
“Knowing how much Major League Baseball is pouring in into female leadership, I think it’s extremely gratifying for me and motivating for me, to know that Major League Baseball cares about this initiative and really wants to take the time to foster and develop female leadership,” exclaimed Hannah Basinger, Atlanta Braves, VP Guest Operations & Strategy.
Brenda Best, the Director of Human Resources for the Milwaukee Brewers, called the symposium “Very refreshing.”
“And validating to get comments from people at your table and our facilitators in the sense where things that you are experiencing aren’t unique to you, that other people have seen it and other people are looking to correct them,” Best remarked.
“[The program has] definitely given me very important tools that I think could be very effective, so I hope to bring those back and try to implement those in my day-to-day with my team.”
For the third consecutive year, MLB hosted Take The Field, a program specifically designed to provide women interested in careers in coaching, scouting, and player development in baseball with the opportunity for education and engagement with Club personnel through panels, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities.
This year’s added focuses have been programming designed to support women currently working with clubs and the Commissioner’s Office in these baseball operations and on-field roles.
The event, intended for those who have an existing connection through baseball or softball, featured more than 260 women listening to sessions led by coaches, scouts, and front office personnel who provided insight on various topics to prepare attendees for these roles.
“I’ve had the opportunity to touch a bunch of different areas,” stated Danielle Dockx, a diversity fellow with the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Ultimately, I kind of found my niche in player development with a little bit of performance science, but it’s been awesome to see how the front office works and how everyone can cooperate [to] put a product on the field,” Dockx said.
Additionally, for the fifth consecutive year, MLB hosted a Supplier Diversity Summit, which included several panel discussions, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on diverse businesses and a discussion on doing business with baseball.
The Summit also featured speed networking rounds providing diverse-owned businesses – inclusive of those owned by people of color, women, veterans, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities – the opportunity to pitch their businesses to representatives from MLB, MLB Clubs, and MLB Partners.
The program, which began in 1998, is an economically-driven business initiative designed to cultivate new and existing partnerships with diverse-owned businesses by increasing opportunities for them to participate in MLB’s procurement activities. It is the longest-running Diversity Supplier Program in major sports.
To date, MLB has spent nearly $2 billion with diverse businesses since this initiative began.
“It’s our job to bring them in, train them, coach them and make them feel like they are a part of our family because they are – we want to partner [with] them,” said Jorge Fajardo, Director of Procurement for the Washington Nationals.
Finally, as part of MLB’s ongoing commitment to growing and developing programming, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion launched a new winter meeting titled Women On Deck, designed as a space for conversations around the impact women are making in baseball.
On Wednesday, December 17, Michele Meyer-Shipp launched the discussion featuring a diverse group of women across Baseball Operations.
“Open to employees throughout the league, participants had an opportunity to engage directly with women who have navigated careers and continue to have an impact throughout baseball front offices,” MLB officials noted in a news release.