The Collective® and Pro Sports Assembly partner to research the experience of professionals entering the sports industry

September 27, 2022


– The study proves the continued trend of inherent bias and resource inequity for underrepresented people in the business.

– The research originates from a new partnership between the organizations, centered around research and insights for equity in the workplace

The Collective®, the women-focused practice of Wasserman, has announced a new partnership with Pro Sports Assembly – the association for professional sports business leaders – providing the sports industry with research and insights around equity in the workplace. For their first official collaboration, The Collective® Think Tank – a global consortium of academic partners dedicated to research on gender equity – contributed to the unprecedented, bellwether research exploring how privilege shapes access to opportunities and career development in sports. Participating Think Tank members include UMass, Ohio University, University of South Florida and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This study – designed as a benchmark for examining cross-generational and cross-industry progress – presents clear proof of the continued trend of inherent bias and resource inequity for underrepresented individuals. Think Tank researchers sought to understand early work experiences in sports, and how a diverse work environment can provide professional experiences in regard to interpersonal dynamics, business performance and industry culture.

Overall, the data revealed that early professionals see gender as a hindrance to growth, even if that challenge is not explicitly stated by managers and leadership. Further…

– Unfairness is Seen: 40% of women felt they have been treated unfairly because of gender and 6.25% of participants felt they were treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity.

– Privilege Drives Attention: 33% of women, compared to 24% of men, feel that people in their organization do not care about them. 85% of men, compared to 60% of women, are comfortable expressing opinions that differ from their group.

– Mentorship Needs Equity: 81% of women said formal mentorship opportunities were important to them; however, only 34% were satisfied with the formal mentorship programs offered at their organization.

“Solutions come from understanding problems, and actionable problems come from data that unearths human truths. And so the solution becomes clear: Organizations must work on representation in leadership and mentorship programs – not just for the assumed benefits, but also for retaining women within their organization,” says Janelle Wells, Associate Professor within the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program at USF. “Our study was a first look at the experience of early professionals across all sectors of the sport industry, including collegiate, professional and agencies. We hope to continue tracking progress annually so that we can collectively work to create more diverse and inclusive work environments and industries.”

“We’re proud to partner with Pro Sports Assembly on this first of many pursuits of truth, as the next generation of sport leaders need a stage and voice for change in this industry. The members of Pro Sports are great collaborators in the drive for equitable change, and that is what makes us so pleased to work with them,” said Executive Vice President, The Collective® at Wasserman Thayer Lavielle.

“We seek to guide leaders – across teams, leagues, unions, venues and beyond – and now we can substantiate an employer’s need to be aware and intentional of the climate they’re creating,” said Pro Sports Assembly President and Executive Director Laura Dixon. “The insights point the way forward towards change and needed solutions. Inclusive leaders must be vulnerable to learn, share and be able to set the tone of culture with invitation. Only then can they design intentional development plans that exceed compliance and benefits, to create accountability tools for all employees.”

The methodology included a qualitative and quantitative survey of roughly 200 participants, with an average age of 27; an average 3.5 years in the workplace; and a composition of 65% women, 70% white/13% Black/6% Latinx. Of the respondents, 58% work in pro sports, 15% in college sports and 14% in agencies.

About Wasserman and The Collective®
Wasserman is a partner to the world’s most iconic sports figures, musical artists, brands and properties. Our purpose is to transform and advance brands, businesses and careers, empowering clients to create culture and impact audiences.

The Collective® is Wasserman’s women-focused practice that exists to create change in support of equity and fairness for women. We aim to raise the visibility and drive inclusion of women in sports, entertainment and culture by providing unique insights, strategies and ideas. Learn more on Twitter @WassCollective and Instagram @wassermancollective.

About Pro Sports Assembly
Pro Sports Assembly is the association for professional sports business leaders. Together, PRO members create and foster a strong, healthy and fair workforce for teams, leagues, unions and venues. Developing cultural and gender intelligence enables our industry to drive innovation, bolster financial performance, capture new markets and increase customer loyalty. Collectively, PRO members are working to set the standard for leadership in professional sports. For more information on Pro Sports Assembly, please visit www.prosport

Press Contact
Graham Nolan

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