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 NFL to establish Rooney Rule for women

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PostSubject: NFL to establish Rooney Rule for women   Thu Feb 04, 2016 1:50 pm


SAN FRANCISCO -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday the league is going to institute a Rooney Rule for women when it comes to all NFL executive positions.

He announced the decision in opening remarks at NFL Women's Summit, where roughly 250 men and women associated with the league are gathered to listen to a slate of speakers on issues affecting women in sports.

"Last but not least, it's management, and when I say that, it's about diversity in our management. We believe in diversity," Goodell said. "We believe we're better as an organization when we have good people at the table. We have great people at the table. We're also seeing it on the field. ...

"You can see that progress is being made and our commitment is, we have something called the Rooney Rule, which requires us to make sure when we have an opening that on the team or the league level that we are going to interview a diverse slate of candidates," Goodell said. "Well, we're going to make that commitment and we're going to formalize that we, as a league, are going to do that for women as well in all of our executive positions. Again, we're going to keep making progress here and make a difference."

The NFL's Rooney Rule requires teams to interview one minority candidate for each open coaching position. The rule was instituted in 2003 in response to the small percentage of minority candidates being named to head-coaching positions. The rule aims to force decision-makers to become familiar with candidates they might not otherwise consider.

This past season, women broke barriers in the NFL when the league hired its first female official in Sarah Thomas. Last month the Bills hired Kathryn Smith as a special teams assistant coach, the first full-time female coach in the league. There are a number of women who serve as vice presidents at the league level, including those in marketing and public policy.

According to the NFL, 30 percent of the employees in the league's front office are women.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who Goodell introduced at the end of his remarks, addressed the issues that keep the number of women and minorities down in corporate jobs.

"They keep looking in the same channels they keep finding the same people," Rice said.

Rice emphasized that executives can find people like themselves to groom for advancement, but they can also find people who aren't like themselves. She said if she'd waited to find a mentor who was a black women and a Soviet specialist, she'd still be waiting.

"Most of the mentors in my field were white men. They were mostly old white men," Rice said.

Rice is a football fan and serves on the College Football Playoff selection committee. She also has said she'd be interested in serving as NFL commissioner.

Tennis legends Billie Jean King and Serena Williams and actress and "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks also are scheduled to speak at the two-day event. Goodell also said the summit will likely become an annual event around the Super Bowl.
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