What is the legacy of the Rooney Rule?
“Rooney Rule Revisited: Race and Diversity in Sports and Corporate America” will be held Wed., Sept. 21, at the Temple Performing Arts Center.
While it has not been spared from criticism, there is no denying the impact of the Rooney Rule. Launched in 2003 and named after Dan Rooney, former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former chair of the league’s diversity committee, the rule stipulated that NFL coaches must interview at least one minority candidate when hiring for the position of head coach.
“This was pretty groundbreaking at the time, and when it launched, there were plenty of people who just bashed it,” said Jeremi Duru, a professor of law at American University’s Washington College of Law. “They argued that this was unfair reverse discrimination and that it should be unlawful.”
Since its launch, the rule has, at times, come under fire, but it has also continued to evolve and adapt. Most recently, the rule was modified this year to stipulate that all 32 clubs must interview at least two women or persons of color when seeking to fill prominent positions. It has also been used as a model for other prominent business organizations.
Jim Rooney, who is one of Dan Rooney’s sons, and Duru will discuss the rule, its legacy and how it will continue to impact both the present and future sports and business world when they visit Temple University on Wed., Sept. 21, for a special presentation. Jim Rooney’s book, A Different Way to Win, and Duru’s book, Advancing the Ball, will also be highlighted during the discussion. Their talk, “Rooney Rule Revisited: Race and Diversity in Sports and Corporate America,” will be held at noon in the Temple Performing Arts Center. It is free and open to the public, and attendees can register here.
“Where I think the rule has been most helpful is that it stops teams from taking the easy way out, and that happens because we have all of these different biases working against us,” Rooney said. “My father was someone who didn’t take the easy way out, and we know that data shows that when you take the easy way out, you actually get poor results.”
According to Rooney and Duru, more and more companies are realizing this, too.
“We really think the rule itself is a fantastic idea, and when implemented well, it can be a driver for diversity and inclusion, not just in sport and in the NFL but generally for all organizations,” said Duru, who previously worked in the Beasley School of Law and is a former recipient of Temple’s George P. Williams Outstanding Law Professor of the Year Award. “We’re seeing it make its way to other companies. Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan have both introduced forms of the rule. Xerox has introduced a form of it as have Facebook, Pinterest and several other Silicon Valley tech companies.”
Rooney and Duru believe the most recent changes to the Rooney Rule are the ones that have the ability to make a significant difference when it comes to changing equitable hiring practices.
“When you have two diverse candidates in the pool, there is a lot of data that shows that there is a much higher likelihood of you ultimately selecting a person of color,” Rooney said.
More information on the upcoming Duru and Jim Rooney talk is available here.
The event is co-sponsored by the Fox School of Business; the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management; the Klein College of Media and Communication; the Beasley School of Law; Temple Athletics; and the Center for Ethics, Diversity and Workplace Culture.