According to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES), 81.7 percent of the National Basketball Association's players are people of color — but the organization still has a long way to go in diversifying those who hold corporate titles.
As of 2016, 30 percent of NBA head coaches were people of color, 13.3 percent of NBA general managers were people of color and 39.6 percent of professional positions in the NBA League Office were held by women.
To help close this gap, the NBA and the United States Tennis Association announced a partnership last month with diversity and recruitment platform Jopwell, whose mission is to help today's leading organizations connect with diverse talent.
"When Ryan [Williams] and I first started Jopwell our belief was that we wanted to expose people to opportunities that historically our community was not exposed to," Jopwell CEO Porter Braswell tells CNBC Make It. "Growing up as an athlete myself, sports was something I was passionate about. I played it but I didn't know how to break into it as a professional."
Braswell and Williams launched Jopwell in 2015 after working as associates at Goldman Sachs and seeing the need for a more diverse workforce in corporate America first-hand. Within three years, the young CEOs have raised $4.22 million in funding from prominent investors like Magic Johnson, Andreessen Horowitz, Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.
Jopwell's platform, which is free for job-seekers, allows Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American students and professionals to make a profile and apply to any position featured. In return, companies that subscribe can reach out directly to a candidate who they feel is a good fit for their company.
After monitoring the different types of jobs applied to on Jopwell, Braswell started to see a demand for more sports positions. Recognizing that a lot of the platform's users lived in major metropolitan areas, he and Williams reached out to the NBA and USTA, both headquartered in New York, to discuss how the startup could help the organizations reach a broader talent pool.
From there, Braswell says a natural partnership formed, which now includes the USTA, the NBA corporate office and 14 NBA teams who pay undisclosed subscription fee to access candidates on the company's platform.
"Jopwell, like the NBA, believes that diversity and inclusion are good for business, and that engaging with a diverse group of candidates — at various levels in their careers — is essential to our success and the growth of our game globally," NBA Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Oris Stuart said in a statement.
To date, the New York-based startup has worked with top companies like Facebook, Airbnb, Bloomberg and LinkedIn.
"If we can expose our communities to these type of opportunities that aren't often available, then we can get one step closer to an equal playing field," says Braswell.
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