Photos Courtesy of MLB Advanced Media
Major League Baseball (MLB) held its Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego last week, December 8-12, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. The annual event brought together representatives from all Major League Baseball teams and their minor league affiliates for a four day off-season networking and deal making extravaganza involving baseball industry executives, media, exhibitors and job seekers intent on doing business in, and with the MLB. Included were a host of informational workshops and activities designed to improve diversity & inclusion within the sport.
“Our Diversity & Inclusion [is] a key component of the Winter Meetings,” said Corey Smith, Sr. Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Major League Baseball. “We debuted our Supplier Diversity Program in 1998, and since then, we have fostered and nurtured a pipeline of diverse talent and businesses that has proven to be successful for Major League Baseball, our Clubs and our affiliates.”
“Diverse-owned businesses,” as the MLB calls them, had some great opportunities to network with peers and MLB executives, pitch their services, vie for job and internship vacancies, and learn the latest on industry trends and best practices. Attendees came from all over the United States and the world.
Michigan native, Temeria Heard, attended the private, invite-only event for the third time. “It’s so competitive,” she said. Temeria is President & CEO of Detroit-based Corporate 52 Marketing Group. Her company does promotional marketing for MLB game day “swag,” and other promotional game day giveaways. “It gives us a way “in” and it’s a great way to network and develop relationships,” she said.
Signature events at the Winter Meetings included the PBEO Job Fair (the official MLB employment service operator), the Baseball Trade Show and an awards banquet and gala. Targeted diversity and inclusion programs and workshops included the Supplier Diversity Summit, the Diversity Pipeline Program, the Diversity Pipeline Program Career Networking Reception, the Diversity Pipeline Program: ‘Former Player Internship Orientation,’ and the MLB’s new Workforce Diversity Best Practices’ program.
Corey Smith, MLB’s Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion, played a key role in the diversity programming on offer at the Winter Meetings. It was clear that participants not only looked up to him, but also gained valuable insights from his activities and workshops.
Voice & Viewpoint sat down with Mr. Smith for a brief Q&A:
VV: What can you say to a young person here in San Diego who may dream of being involved with the MLB?
CS: I don’t think most young people really consider MLB as an employer. It’s like, if you didn’t play baseball you don’t think you can work in MLB, and that’s just not true. We need all sorts of skill sets above and beyond and, especially, off the field.
We have a marketing department, we have a legal department. We need lawyers. We have an incredible analytics department that are tracking all the stats for the game. So, we need folks with analytical minds. We need stem. We need science and engineering and math majors.
VV: How diverse is MLB right now?
CS: MLB continues to improve, especially with the increased presence of our digital side of the business. We definitely have a flourishing millennial and Gen Z population of employees. Our social media presence continues to grow and that’s who we tap into.
VV: Is social media where you do most of your outreach?
CS: We’ve got a large presence across a variety of platforms. For example, in 2018 we created a Diversity Fellowship Program. [It’s] an 18-24 month rotational program in our baseball operations division for people of color and women that are within 3 years of graduating college. Baseball Operations includes our lead economics. Its actual baseball ops where we calculate the analytics and stats of our game. So, even in that outreach, we were intentional to say, look, it’s great that you have a sports management degree, but I want an engineer and I want a math major. Because you’re going to be doing stats all day. We reached out to HBCUs and women’s colleges and we partnered with alumni associations, in addition to other [more traditional routes].
VV: Did you go to the Black Press?
CS: Yes we absolutely did. And to that end we’ve recently brought on a multicultural communications firm to help us spread the word. We have to be intentional in who we invite to participate – we want to spread the word. There’s been a lot of press recently around some of the diversity issues MLB faces. We understand it, we recognize it and we have programs in place to combat a lot of our diversity issues. It’s not immediate fixes. You’ll see the results five, ten years from now, but we are proactive in our diversity and inclusion efforts and making sure that everybody – all people, from all walks of life – can appreciate our game.