Diversity on all levels emphasized as Summit wraps

March 9th, 2016

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The players are certainly one aspect of Major League Baseball's commitment to diversity, but to heap all the focus on the field is to ignore a large part of the equation.

Baseball wants to become more diverse on every level throughout the entire industry, hence the importance and significance of the 2016 Major League Baseball Diversity Business Summit, which concluded Wednesday at Chase Field.

"Events like this show you that we're about what we say we're about," said Marian Rhodes, the D-backs' senior vice president and chief human resource and diversity officer. "We are open. The opportunities are there. The doors are open for you to come in."

Rhodes' passionate statement came during a "Leadership from the Top" panel, led by D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall, in which Reds CEO Bob Castellini, D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick, D-backs general manager Dave Stewart, president and CEO of Minor League Baseball Pat O'Conner, Peter Seidler -- a member of the Padres' ownership group -- and Rhodes discussed the importance of diversity in the business of the game.

"If your market is 25 percent of one ethnic group and you're not infiltrating it, you're only working off 75 percent of the market," O'Conner said. "It's like having an eight-cylinder car with only seven of them working. It's inefficient, and you're not getting maximum results."

Baseball's leadership wants the industry to become more diverse because it recognizes the need and wants to be more appealing to more people.

"Baseball has a lot to do with the psyche of a city," Castellini said.

And as the demographics of those cities change, baseball must, too.

"If we do not become reflective of our fan base," O'Conner said, "if we do not become reflective of our corporate base, we're going to have a smaller group of people to do business with."

Baseball is taking a big step forward at this year's All-Star Game, where the MLB All-Star Community Legacy will cross the border for the first time.

Since the Padres, hosts of the 2016 All-Star Game, are so close to the border with Mexico, MLB will create an All-Star Complex at the Boys & Girls Club of Mexico in Tijuana as one of several projects in the San Diego region.

However, for all the good that has been accomplished by Major League Baseball in numerous areas, there is still room for improvement.

"I would say in certain areas of the game and at certain periods of time, we're making progress," Stewart said. "And in other periods of time, we take steps backward. We've got to keep the motion going forward."

In order to ensure that baseball continues to move in the right direction, the clubs need to stay on top of the issues and continually work together.

"We have to be accountable to ourselves and to the central office, but we have to police ourselves, too," Hall said.