Players Discuss Pacers Sports & Entertainment's Social Justice Agenda
On Tuesday night, the entire Pacers roster joined a Zoom call from their hotel rooms in Minneapolis to learn more about Pacers Sports & Entertainment's social justice agenda.
The call was this season's "Business of Basketball" event, an annual program that allows players to learn more about a particular business aspect of the sporting world.
Pacers Alternate NBA Governor Steve Simon was on Tuesday's Zoom, as were several members of PSE's Inclusive Excellence Action Committee (IEAC), a group that was formed within the organization over the past year to create solutions-oriented action to address issues of inclusivity, diversity, and social justice.
Simon told the players how moved he had been last summer by discussions he had with Pacers and Fever players after the murder of George Floyd, as well as by their actions to help lead a sweeping social justice movement across the country. At that time, Simon said he started to see the world "through the eyes" of the players realized that he and the organization could do more to support issues related to social justice.
PS&E held multiple virtual town halls with all of its full-time employees on the topic, including one that featured Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. McConnell sharing their thoughts on what was happening in the world.
The result of those discussions was the formation of the IEAC.
"We're starting on a long journey to really look at ourselves, look at our biases and vulnerabilities, to really learn and grow," Simon told the players on Tuesday.
IEAC members Corey Wilson, Vice President of Community Engagement, and Mariah Barber, Safety & Security Manager, then shared the committee's plans with the players and solicited their feedback on what the organization can do to maximize its impact in the community.
Those plans include connecting and engaging every employee through inclusive leadership development training and processes and developing a nationally recognized supplier diversity program. It also includes plans to host at least four community-driven social justice initiatives, programs, and events by the end of 2021 and a robust social justice agenda focused on five points: bridging the persistent education gap, inspiring youth through mentorship, addressing neighborhood food desserts, improving relationships between law enforcement and our local communities, and supporting Black and minority-owned businesses.
The Pacers players were supportive of those programs, with some suggesting particular areas where they would like to learn more and become involved. They also offered additional feedback on other ways the organization can increase its impact, including particular areas where they would like the company to devote more of its resources.
The productive discussion will help influence the ongoing initiatives of the IEAC as PS&E continues to engage in tackling issues of social justice. Player voices have been a leading voice on these issues over the past year and the organization, from Simon on down, has vowed to continue to listen to them and take action.