When the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Noelle Needham, she was hired without anyone in the organization knowing her gender. This fact has made it okay in the average hockey fan's mind that the Leafs hired two women, the second being the famous Hayley Wickenheiser. The philosophy being, if a company hires the best people, then hiring women becomes more acceptable.
That philosophy is complete bullshit in my opinion.
The hockey industry currently dealing a major deficit in the amount of women in hockey ops positions. The fact is, women add huge value to an organization, and our industry has a responsibility to hire women. My argument is really two pronged. 1) Women should be hired to create diversity, which actually benefits businesses. 2) Hockey has a social responsibility to hire more women to create equality.
On the first point, there is a ton of information and research that shows how effective women in the workplace can be. Research overwhelmingly proves that a diverse staff helps create a better organization.
I saw too many articles written about how progressive the Leafs were being when they hired two women, the second being the famous women's hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser. It is 2018, and I have had enough of the over-congratulations for the slow progression of women working in hockey operations. It is time to be aggressive, and make it clear that women belong in hockey
Women Create More Successful Businesses
This point is very obvious in my opinion, and should not need to be backed up with research. Subjectively, having diverse viewpoints should create a better organization, but I do not want to leave that statement up for discussion. Using an academic article, I will objectively be proving that hiring women can only help that organization thrive.
Article #1 - Do women leaders promote positive change? Analyzing the effect of gender on business practices and diversity initiatives (Written by, Christy Glass & Alison Cook) : In this article, the hypothesis asks how effective are women in leadership positions? They mention previous research that has outlined the possible positives and negatives of women in leadership roles. For example, they mention that "women may be more likely than men to emphasize non-financial performance measures in favor of innovation and equity." Consequently, their research discovered that having women in leadership roles creates only positive outcomes. The business attributes that improved when women are hired included: corporate governance strengths, product strengths, community strength, and diversity strengths. For those reasons, it is clear that hiring women is beneficial to businesses.
The Resistance to Hire Women
If anyone follows sport remotely, this should not come as a surprise. Men have effectively kept the patriarchy alive and well in sport organizations. Even so, I know the argument that "men would be happy to hire women" would arise if I did not address it. That fallacy is part of the reason more women are not hired into hockey operations positions. To prove my point, the next article takes a focus group of male Sport Management students and asks them about women working in sport.
Article #2 - What’s My Responsibility? Undergraduate Heterosexual White Men in Sport Management Discuss Increasing Diversity in Sport (Written by, Jörg Vianden & Elizabeth A. Gregg) : To prove that there is resistance among men to hire women in the sport industry, the authors of this article surveyed a sample group of 22 white men in sport management programs about hiring women. Some students like Jim understood the importance of diversity when he said:
“[You should have] different people with different ideas to bring to the table. If you just have the same people walking around your office, you’re all going to think relatively the same way and your company is never going to change, but the marketplace and everything else changes over time.”
Overall, there was an understanding that there should be women in sport, but there was a lack of responsibility felt by the men to do anything about it. The harsher side of these student’s ignorance can be shown through a quote from Ron, another student in the survey:
“If I’m a man in a CEO position and I look at my responsibility to allow more women into that culture . . . why am I going to invite more competition into this group? I think when you look at the limited number of jobs, especially at a higher level in sports, there are plenty of people who are in facilities and running a stadium and stuff like that, but there are very few front office positions. Why are you going to try to add to the pool of people trying to get more [women]?”
Success of Women in Sport
The one story that is the definition of women succeeding in sport would be the story of Becky Hammon. Becky Hammon is one of the shining stars for women looking to work in sport one day. Currently she is the assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, while working under arguably the best coach of all time in Gregg Popovich. She had a long journey to get where she is today, and with rumors that she is being interviewed for head coaching positions, it looks like her star is just going to keep rising.
Article #3 - Becky Hammon Biography (Written by, beckyhammon25.com) : Becky Hammon started as a basketball player in the small state of South Dakota. She went on to play college basketball at Colorado State, where she broken many school records and had her jersey number retired in 2005. After her college stint, she played a grand total of 16 WNBA seasons, and averaged almost 14 points per game. Becky Hammon has gone down in history as one of the best women basketball players, and it opened up the door into coaching.
Becky Hammon always had a desire to become a basketball coach. While playing in San Antonio, she had to spend a year rehabbing an injury. This gave her the opportunity to frequently be involved with San Antonio’s NBA team, where she contributed her opinion in coaches meetings and games. In 2014, she broke the glass ceiling of NBA coaching becoming the first full-time, paid, female coach in the NBA. Since then, she notably lead San Antonio’s Summer League team to a championship as head coach in 2015, and also had a lot of other successes with the franchise. Even the Milwaukee Bucks interviewed her when they were looking for a head coach. One day soon, Becky Hammon might become the first female coach in NBA history.
Through my research, I feel that I have made it very clear that there needs to be an aggressive movement by the hockey industry to hire women. Particularly, the hockey industry may see amazing success stories like Becky Hammon if they just gave women a chance to prove their value. Albeit, if the hockey industry keeps overemphasizing small successes when women are hired, there may never be substantial progression in creating a diverse staff in hockey operations. Knowing all this, our industry has a problem that they should be held responsible to change, and fixing that problem will only help make their organizations better.
- The Scout