Adam Silver memo to teams: Hire more women in leadership roles, improve workplace conditions

Tim Reynolds | The Associated Press

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants all teams to hire more women, especially in leadership and supervisory positions, and is urging them to take some of the mandates that the Dallas Mavericks must now adhere to as an impetus to improve working conditions within their own organizations.

Silver, in a memo sent to all teams Friday and obtained by The Associated Press, also asked teams to thoroughly review the report that was released earlier this week about the Mavericks. The league stopped short of flatly ordering the 29 other clubs to institute new policies, though Silver’s wishes were very clear.

“Use this opportunity to make changes and create a dialogue within your organizations about workplace policies, procedures and respectful conduct,” Silver wrote.

The league asked clubs to have what they are calling “Community Conversations” with their own employees within the next two weeks about the investigation and subsequent report about the Mavericks. Dallas owner Mark Cuban announced Wednesday — when the report was released following a months-long probe that began after problems were detailed in a Sports Illustrated article in February – that he will contribute $10 million to help further the cause of women in sports and raise awareness about domestic violence.

Cuban was not personally involved in any of the incidents of sexual harassment and improper workplace conduct within the Mavericks’ organization. The investigation made clear that others within the organization were allowing an environment in which workplace misconduct was rampant.

“Respect and integrity are core NBA values, and we all must work to ensure that they are reflected in the culture and workplaces of our organizations,” Silver wrote.

The league urged teams to consider making more than a dozen changes, including:

• Increasing the number of female staff, including in leadership and supervisory positions.

• Better harassment-reporting procedures for victims of misconduct.

• Additional commitments to ensuring that harassment is eliminated and diversity is improved.

• Anonymous workplace culture surveys of employees.

• Stronger human-resource departments.

• Sexual harassment training, with special training for managers and supervisors.

• Having general counsel employed in-house.

Silver said all of the recommendations were made specifically for the Mavericks in the investigators’ report.

“But we at the league office thought it was so well done that it clearly put in one place a set of rules that we think all workplaces should follow, frankly, in the NBA and in all industries,” Silver said during a news conference after the Board of Governors meetings in New York.

“We saw this as an opportunity to send those directly to our teams and say, ‘Take a look at what you’re currently doing and make sure, literally go down this checklist and make sure that you’re doing those things as well.'”

The NBA has already established a leaguewide “Respect in the Workplace” hotline, one that was established after the Mavs story broke last winter.

“Open and honest dialogue about these issues is critically important and the league office can supply facilitators if needed to conduct these conversations in person,” Silver wrote.