NEW YORK – The 4th Annual Sports Diversity & Inclusion Symposium featured a lively debate on Wednesday, as PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua joined Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and a panel of top sports leaders for the General Session.
Entitled "Diversity & Inclusion – A Leadership in Business Perspective" and moderated by Wendy Lewis, MLB's senior vice president for Diversity & Strategic Alliances, the 90-minute discussion at Citi Field (home to the New York Mets) focused on the many benefits of a multicultural workforce and how sports can set the standard for society in establishing best practices.
Joining Bevacqua and Manfred on the panel were National Basketball Association Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, Major League Soccer President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott, United States Olympic Committee Chief of Organizational Excellence Benita Mosley and United States Tennis Association Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Gordon Smith.
"Our mission is to serve our 28,000 members and grow the game," said Bevacqua. "We focused on our long-term strategic plan on critical areas of the game of golf and our membership, such as education, membership, global expansion, and the championships we run. And we took a step back and said diversity and inclusion needs to be a part of it, and the backbone of everything we do, part of our DNA.
"This is a battle that golf has to take on and a battle the PGA of America needs to win. We don't hide from the fact that golf has a tough past. We fight this every day, and we fight it with our eyes open, and with passion. The continued health and success of the game, and quite frankly, its relevance, depends on being more diverse."
The PGA of America is part of an impressive consortium of sponsors of the 4th Sports Diversity & Inclusion Symposium, in New York City, Sept. 29-30, including: MLB, Minor League Baseball, MLS, NASCAR, NBA, WNBA, NCAA Inclusion, NFL, NHL, United States Olympic Committee, U.S. Paralympics, RISE and the USTA.
The Sports Diversity & Inclusion Symposium provided a forum to discuss, evaluate and create tangible solutions that drive greater diversity and inclusion in today's sports culture. Designed to recognize, celebrate and encourage diversification in the world of sports, the forum featured influential and prominent leaders from Olympic, Paralympic, professional and amateur organizations, with expert panels, roundtable discussions and general sessions.
"People like Yogi Berra lived through an era when baseball was being integrated," said Manfred, who replaced Bud Selig as MLB Commissioner in January. "It is important for today's players to know the history of the game. Yogi established a tradition of inclusion, and that is really important today."
PGA of America Director of Digital Strategy Joni Lockridge took part in a breakout session that focused on "The Millennial Perspective" and the impact the generation is having on the workforce and the marketplace. The panel highlighted technology trends that are hot right now for Millennials; what organizations are doing to keep them engaged digitally; and a general overview of the employment experience in sports.
Moderated by AOL Sports On-Air Host Nick Creegan, Lockridge was joined on the panel by NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Chair Kendall Spencer and Samsung Omni-Channel Experience Lead Corey Patterson.
Last year, the PGA of America hosted the Symposium at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.