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NFL Addresses League's Lack of Diversity in Coaching

A football is sitting on a green field.

​National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference four days before Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz., addressing several issues impacting the league, including its lack of diversity in coaching and executive roles.

"I still feel like there is more and better work ahead of us," Goodell said. "I think there's progress, and we're pleased to see progress, but there's never enough. We look to see how we can make things better."

The commissioner noted that league executives understand "diversity makes us stronger" and championed its Coach and Front Office Accelerator Program as an effort to increase diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).

Launched in 2022, the program enables people of color and women who aspire to coach or work in a front-office role to meet team officials who have hiring power. Goodell said the initiative has already shown promising results.

"I was overwhelmed with the reaction from our clubs," Goodell said. "They embraced it. They thought it was terrific. The conversations were great; I participated in many of them. It's a program that has a great deal of potential."

The NFL has made strides in hiring women into coaching, front-office and league-headquarters positions. But people of color represented just five of 32 head-coaching positions as of February 2022, according to the league's 2022 diversity and inclusion report.

SHRM Online gathered additional news on the topic.

Goodell Addresses Diversity Efforts, State of Officiating Ahead of Super Bowl LVII

Goodell spoke about the measures that can be added to the accelerator program to help coaching candidates. Five head-coaching positions are open during the 2023 hiring cycle. The Houston Texans hired San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who is Black, as their new head coach on Jan. 31. The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos hired two white candidates, while the Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts have yet to fill their open head-coaching positions.


Brian Flores, the NFL and the Fight Against Workplace Racism

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the league in 2022 for alleged racial discrimination in the hiring process and in his firing by the Dolphins. The NFL has long been criticized for racial discrimination and a lack of DE&I in executive positions, and evidence suggests that, in this respect, the league isn't much different from other U.S. workplaces.

(SHRM Online)

NFL Sees Higher Grades for Gender Hiring in Diversity Study

In November 2022, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport assigned an overall B grade for the NFL's diversity efforts, with a B+ for racial hiring and a B for gender hiring. The report examined a range of positions at the league office and within franchises using data for the 2022 season.

(The Associated Press)

Team Receives Backlash for Hiring White Coach with Little Experience

The Colts received criticism for hiring a white interim coach with no professional coaching experience despite the availability of several Black coaches with NFL coaching experience. That coach, Jeff Saturday, eventually compiled a record of one win and seven losses in the 2022 season.

(SHRM Online)

Lovie Smith Fired 1 Year After Saying NFL Had 'a Problem' About Black Coaches

Lovie Smith, then-head coach of the Texans, said that the NFL had "a problem" with hiring Black coaches and diversity upon his hiring in February 2022. After just one year at the helm in Houston, he was fired. Now, former players and TV pundits are once again criticizing the league for its lack of diversity.



​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.