In 2003, the NFL attempted to shed it’s image as an “old boys club” and diversify their employees. The “Rooney Rule” was established, a rule that required teams to interview at least one minority candidate for any head coaching or senior football operations jobs (like general manager or team president).
League commissioner Roger Goodell said on Thursday that the league would be taking the next step, and establishing a similar rule to ensure that females are given equal consideration for various roles within the team.
“We believe in diversity,” Goodell said at the NFL’s first Women’s Summit. “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.”
“You can see that progress is being made,” he 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.”
In the past few years, the NFL has had a few historic moments when it comes to female employment. Sarah Thomas became their first female official and Jen Weiter became the first female to hold a position on an NFL coaching staff, with the Arizona Cardinals. The Buffalo Bills have also hired Kathryn Smith (pictured above) to be their special teams quality control coach.
There are still very few women in senior executive postions in the NFL. Most notably, Dawn Aponte is the executive vice president of football administration for the Miami Dolphin. The Oakland Raiders previously has a female CEO, Amy Trask, for 16 years until she resigned the position in 2013.