The NFL today internally announced the launch of an LGBTQ employee affinity group, called NFL Pride. The new organization, which will officially launch Aug. 16, will be used to support LGBTQ employees and advise NFL executives on best practices for engaging on diversity issues.
The internal league memo, written by the NFL Diversity Council, was sent to all NFL staffers, including people at the league office and the NFL Network.
“Through networking events, speakers, community outreach and employee education, NFL Pride will serve LGBTQ employees and their allies as they support a culture of inclusion,” the memo read. “All employees are invited and encouraged to join and participate in planning and/or attending events.”
The group will be led by executive sponsors Julie Haddon (senior vice-president of marketing), Dawn Hudson (chief marketing officer) and Troy Vincent (vice-president of football operations).
The NFL started employee affinity groups around 2010, with current groups focusing on women and black employees. According to NFL Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer Robert Gulliver, NFL Pride is launching now because the NFL has received what he called a “critical mass” to ensure the group thrives.
“This year we have received a groundswell of employees essentially coming to our diversity council and indicating they wanted to set up a pride LGBTQ affinity group,” Gulliver told Outsports. “Because there was finally a critical mass of employees who expressed interest, we were able to go forward and make this happen.”
In addition to supporting LGBTQ employees and building best practices, the group will be used to drive the direction of the league on broader LGBTQ issues. Executives will be encouraged to work with NFL Pride whenever they are building “communications, marketing/product integrations, workplace best practices, and other challenges or opportunities,” according to the internal memo.
Gulliver said this aspect of NFL Pride is particularly exciting.
“We're very purposeful in the launch announcement to indicate the NFL Pride group would be instrumental in providing perspective to our leadership team, and we're excited that our employee group can be a resource,” Gulliver said.
One opportunity for that engagement is around the corner, as the NFL is currently in the location-selection process for the 2018 NFL Draft. Currently Dallas is considered the front runner, despite the state seemingly on the verge of mandating discrimination against transgender people.
The league will host a launch event for NFL Pride at league offices on Aug. 16. Ryan O’Callaghan and I will be guest speakers.
NFL league employees of all sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to join and participate in the group. Currently it is only open to league staffers and not employees at the 32 teams.
Major League Baseball has a similar LGBT and Allies Business Resource Group at the commissioner’s office, which recently volunteered clean-up services during New York Pride.