The NFL is continuing to expand opportunities for women with the creation of a “Rooney Rule” to recruit more females to executive positions.
“We believe in diversity. We believe we’re better as an organization when we have good people at the table. We have great people at the table … We’re also seeing it on the field,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the first “Women’s Summit” at Super Bowl 50 Thursday morning.
The league’s new “Rooney Rule” will require teams to interview women for upcoming executive positions. The name stems from the pre-existing rule created in 2003, named after Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, stating that teams must interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.
The past year has marked a milestone for women in the NFL, with the hiring the league’s first female official, Sarah Thomas, and the Buffalo Bills bringing in Kathryn Smith as the first full-time female coach. In July, the Arizona Cardinals hired Dr. Jen Welter as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason. There are also a number of women who serve as vice presidents at the league level, including those in marketing and public policy.
“You can see that progress is being made,” Goodell continued. “And our commitment is we have something called the ‘Rooney Rule,’ which requires us to make sure when we have an opening, that on the team or the league level, that we are going to interview a diverse slate of candidates.
“Well we’re going to make that commitment and we’re going to formalize that we, as a league, are going to do that with women as well in all of our executive positions. Again, we’re going to keep making progress here and make a difference,” he said.
After taking steps to make the NFL more female-focused following a number of domestic abuse scandals, the league announced last week that it was hosting the first-ever NFL Women’s Summit on Feb. 4 and 5 in San Francisco, leading up to Super Bowl 50.
The event, titled “In the Huddle to Advance Women in Sport,” brings together prominent leaders from sports, government, academia, media and entertainment, including Serena Williams, Robin Roberts and Condoleezza Rice.