Unemployment, The Rooney Rule And Making The Net WorkEt cetera, Football, Real Goes Right — By Real Goes Right on May 15, 2013 at 3:00 am
This is a tantalizing look at the employment struggle of black men, whether it be a law graduate or a head coach looking for work in the NFL. If potential racism, white favoritism and the acknowledgment of unfairness make you uncomfortable … just keep reading. A little discomfort never hurt anybody.
How This Article Came to Be
In May 2012, I graduated law school and decided to move to DC to find a job. I’ve struggled mightily in this quest. I’ve sent out hundreds of job résumés, cover letters and emails with very little success. Today, the game of employment is more about who and not what you know, making my lack of success unsurprising. In still trying to establish myself, I lack the necessary network to keep me on the inside loop of positions that become available. If being unemployed has taught me one thing, it’s that it pays to have built up a network that can help you get where you need to go.
A couple of weeks ago a tweet ended up on my timeline. The tweet dealt with adding “certain people” in a personal network to achieve upward mobility. And by “certain people,” I mean white people. This wasn’t intended to be racist, and I’ll save the “black people don’t want to hire other black people for fear of losing their jobs to said black people” speech for another day. The singular point of this tweet was more often than not, the person who’s going to be doing the hiring and firing is more than likely going to be someone white. I agreed, to a degree, with that sentiment. Later, I was reading a post in the New York Times that begged the question of how social networks are a driving cause for black unemployment. (I’ll touch more on this a bit later.)
Following both the Twitter conversation and the NY Times article, I managed to catch ESPN’s “First Take.” During this segment, I was treated to a conversation about the “Rooney Rule.” The host had asked Stephen A. Smith if the Rooney Rule could be improved. What followed was a poignant speech regarding the lack of access given to black coaches to ingratiate themselves among the people who are responsible for the hiring head coaches.
Without doing any research, I’m 97% sure the overwhelming majority of people doing the hiring for head coaching positions are white. I was able to see the parallel between my struggle for finding a job and black coaches struggle for employment as head coaches. The NY Times article, Smith’s comments and the hiring of Andy Reid created more than a few interesting thoughts in my mind. The end goal though was to show that whether it’s a law graduate or a head coach, in order for black men to acquire the positions they want, they need to make it a point of getting in good with the people who control it. And that is definitely easier said than done.
The “Rooney Rule” for the Uninitiated
As told by Wikipedia, the rule was named after Pittsburgh Steeler’s owner Dan Rooney, who was chairman of the league’s diversity committee. The rule had been established to ensure minority head coaches were being considered for high-level coaching positions in the NFL. The rule has changed and expanded a bit since it was first introduced, now extending to all searches for senior football operations within the NFL, regardless of the position.