ESPN to Host ‘Diversity’ Town Hall, Work to ‘Improve Experiences of Black Employees’

AP Photo/Jessica Hill

ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro recently sent a long memo to employees describing the network’s coming diversity efforts on the heels of the nasty controversy between a white ESPN reporter and her black co-worker.

Pitaro sent the memo speaking of the steps ESPN is taking “to improve the experiences of Black employees” and to address the controversial statements about black reporter Maria Taylor uttered on a leaked recorded phone call by white reporter Rachel Nichols, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The network chief didn’t want to go into specifics of the Nichols/Taylor situation, saying only, “The details of what took place last year are confidential, nuanced and complicated personnel matters. But understand this — we have a much better story than what you’ve seen this week.”

“I do want to be clear on one thing: Maria Taylor was selected as NBA Countdown host last year because she earned it,” Pitaro continued. “Please know our commitment is that assignments and opportunities at ESPN are based on merit and any concerns, remarks, or inferences that suggest otherwise have been and will continue to be addressed.”

Breitbart Sports readers will remember that over the July 4th weekend, the New York Times published a long article outlining the contents and fallout of an accidentally recorded phone conversation between ESPN reporter Nichols and LeBron James adviser Adam Mendelsohn. In the call, Nichols slammed ESPN for giving black reporter Maria Taylor an on-air spot that Nichols felt she deserved.

Nichols later apologized to Taylor on the air, but it wasn’t enough to stop ESPN from removing her from its NBA Finals coverage.

In his latest memo, Pitaro responded indirectly to the controversy and promised that the company was about to make more “diversity” changes. “We plan to address diversity and inclusion at an upcoming ESPN town hall later this month, and we will continue to have focused conversations with the Black and African American community at ESPN in the coming weeks,” he wrote. “As always, we value an open and honest dialogue,” he wrote.

Pitaro added that the network has been engaged in a year-long investigation into its own diversity policies, some based on “exit interviews” of now former employees.

According to the Hollywood Reporter: “63 percent of ESPN’s executive leadership are women and/or people of color, according to the memo, and of the 116 new hires at ESPN this year, ‘52% are people of color and 42% are female.'”

“We invested heavily in this effort and we asked every employee — from the highest levels of leadership to those just starting with the company — to back this D&I plan. Everyone owns inclusion,” Pitaro exclaimed. “It’s the way you treat your colleagues, how you champion your team, how you welcome new ideas and people, and how you make others feel. Each of us is responsible for creating a culture and climate that thrives.”

“Change takes time, and I ask for your partnership on this journey,” he concluded. “Know that our leadership is committed to accelerating our efforts and working toward a collective goal — an ESPN where everyone feels they belong.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at:


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.