We’re slowly starting to see women on NFL coaching staffs and in some scouting departments.
But in the place where it wouldn’t be a requirement to know much about football or what to look for in a nose tackle, team front offices, there’s still far more men than women.
At least one team is bucking that trend.
Over half of Eagles’ executives are women
Via a Wednesday story by the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Eagles count five women among their executive team; that’s over half of owner Jeffrey Lurie’s top advisers.
Lurie, who has owned the Eagles for 25 years, said he didn’t set out to make a point in hiring women. But in seeking a range of opinions and viewpoints to make the franchise as strong as possible, he found he was welcoming more women into the front office.
“It’s really not strategic,” Lurie said. But seeking diversity of thought “seems to result in lots of women winning these hiring decisions. It’s very interesting.”
The quintet of women are: Catherine Carlson, senior vice president of revenue and strategy; Jen Kavanagh, senior vice president of media and marketing; Aileen Dagrosa, senior vice president and general counsel; Ryan Hammond, the executive director of the Eagles’ Autism Challenge, the franchise’s foundation; and Tina D’Orazio, Lurie’s chief of staff.
Philadelphia is an outlier
Among NFL teams and the league itself, Philadelphia is certainly an outlier: according to the latest report from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, only 35 percent of jobs within the NFL league office are held by women; 29 percent of senior executive positions are held by women.
At the team level, only 28 percent of all franchise employees are women, and that number drops to 18 percent when we’re talking about vice president-level positions or higher.
Twenty-three of the 32 teams in the NFL reported employing more than female vice president last year.
If Lurie did do anything different, it’s this: he looked for candidates from outside of sports. Kavanagh had never worked in sports before being hired in early 2018. She was an executive at NBC Universal and ran her own media advisory firm.
Then one day she got a call out of the blue, asking if she’d be interested in a position with the Eagles. She thought that as someone coming to the team with “entertainment DNA” she’s have to learn football, but she quickly learned that football is entertainment.
Better decisions = better results
Those who have been with the team for years point to one example of how the change in who’s at the table has led to better decisions.
In 2013, a small, all-male group gathered to decide on a new head coach and settled on Chip Kelly. Kelly lasted less than three seasons.
In 2016, a larger circle of decision-makers, now including several women, gathered to decide on a new head coach.
“It was a little bit different of a process this time around,” D’Orazio said.
“We like to make decisions based on information,” said Don Smolenski, the Eagles’ president. “The more information that we have, and the more information you can get from different sources, you can make better decisions.”
The group settled on Doug Pederson. Two years later, Pederson had led the Eagles to the first Super Bowl win in franchise history.
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