ORLANDO - The Orlando Magic were recently chosen as an honoree for the Orlando Business Journal's 2020 Diversity in Business Awards for its efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive community and workplace. The OBJ will host a virtual celebration on Oct. 8 to honor the 12 companies and individuals who were selected.
The Magic were chosen as one of seven companies for the honor. The other companies recognized include CHEP, Elevate Orlando, Imagine Believe Realize LLC, Jordan Law, True Health and Urbander. The OBJ selected the honorees based on their demonstrated respect for inclusive treatment of others as well as advocacy for underrepresented groups while incorporating business development strategies to a wider audience. They represent a number of industries such as logistics, professional sports, technology, education and law, to name a few.
The Magic believe sports has the ability to bridge divides and bring people together and are committed to creating an inclusive environment in which fans, community partners and employees feel welcomed, valued and appreciated. Recently the team, in partnership with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) and its Executive Director Desmond Meade, have been conducting a voter registration campaign with the theme: Get Off The Bench. Get Into The Game. VOTE. After Magic players, coaches and staff donned the "VOTE" T-shirts as they arrived for the NBA restart at the Walt Disney World Resort NBA campus on July 7, a large outpouring of support both locally and nationally along with requests for the shirts followed. The Magic determined they would sell the shirts through the Magic team app with proceeds going to the FRRC.
The impetus for the shirts began after Magic players, coaches and team staff took part in an interactive Zoom call with voting rights activist Meade. Magic players were moved by Meade and FRRC’s push to get more people voting in local, state and national elections that could potentially bring about change in terms of social injustices. The call inspired the team to enact social change by encouraging others to get out and vote and the idea for the shirts was born. The Magic utilized its vast social media presence along with a media campaign to drive awareness of the issue that FRRC addresses and to engage and encourage others to get out and vote.
The Magic's vote campaign continues through a multi-pronged approach. Those efforts include a dedicated web page (www.OrlandoMagic.com/vote); Vote.org partnership; PSAs; voter toolkits; player and coach involvement; social media education campaign; opening Amway Center as early voting/voter registration location; and events to encourage voter participation.
The Magic's other efforts recently have included creating an internal social justice task force under the direction and support of the Magic ownership group, the DeVos family and Magic CEO Alex Martins. The task force is comprised of staff members from the Magic and its affiliates (Orlando Solar Bears, Lakeland Magic and Magic Gaming) to guide the team on how to do even more on issues of diversity, inclusion and equity, while developing programs to initiate substantive change in both the organization and the community. Some of the team's continuing efforts now and over the years include:
- Organization-wide training in diversity and inclusion for several years
- Staff town hall with Oris Stuart, Executive VP for NBA/Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer as part of the team's continuing education addressing the issue of social justice and racial equality
- Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford sits on the Police Reform Task Force to be a voice in social justice reform
- Created a variety of programs and support to address diversity and inclusion: - Magic of Mentoring Minority Youth Summit - Support of the Zebra Coalition (assists LGBTQ+ youth) - Support of local chambers of commerce including Hispanic, African American, Asian American, Brazilian American, Indian, Disability Chambers of Commerce and the Metropolitan Business Association Orlando - Magic's Multi-Chamber Business After Hours, showcasing economic development, empowerment diversity and inclusion bringing together small business owners and community leaders from different minority organizations and chambers. - Multi-cultural Hispanic outreach events - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration - Black History Month celebration events - India Day
- Released a video entitled Walk with Us calling for people to come together and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, players had social justice phrases replace their names on the back of their jerseys for select games. Video Link/Story: https://www.nba.com/magic/orlando-magic-release-walk-with-us-video-20200710