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NFL encouraged by diverse interview lists of teams with coach/G.M. openings

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“One of the ways we have tried to tackle that, candidly, is by educating all of our clubs and our league office in having an open mind as far as what does the ‘right’ candidate look like? And maybe you need to expand that thinking,” Smith said. “We’ve done everything from unconscious bias that we’ve all done but very targeted to help people really understand themselves and their mindset and to have a more open mind as far as casting a wider net and thinking about leadership on the field in a different way and what that looks like. I think we’ve made some progress there. We saw more diverse candidates interviewed last season, and we hope to see that this season. Clearly, I think people are thinking about it differently.”

The league is serious about improving diversity, which is why it hired Smith from Sony Music Entertainment in 2019. Teams must conduct at least one in-person interview with a minority candidate for all head coaching and General Manager openings. “There really isn’t, and I don’t think it will ever be done. We have a long way to go here. We have a long way to go on focusing on minority candidates, focusing on Black candidates, focusing on all different types of diverse candidates. We want to make sure everyone has equal access to this process, that the clubs are looking at all different types of candidates. The league office has no say in who they hire, but we want to make sure they’ve put a lot of thought into being open to maybe a different type of leader than what they’ve hired in the past if they haven’t had a diverse coach or G.M.”

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