Right now, employees want their employers to put their money where their mouths are. And if they’re not already doing that, they’re likely getting called out by co-workers. I spoke with Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC) Board Member Alex Rowell about how change for a better future starts with maintaining diversity among leadership teams.
The Jordan Brand will be donating $100 million over the next 10 years to organizations dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education. Great, your favorite shoe company just know gave their employees a day off for diverse holidays company executives just became aware of, but what else can Nike be doing to acknowledge the systematic injustices happening around the community? Hire more people of color? Donate to community partners in times of distress?
Workers are demanding these questions be answered from by employers, favorite brands, sports teams and anyone else they believe who may not be racist, but aren’t exactly anti-racist during times like this.
“Education is key,” said Alex Rowell. “It is something that cannot be taken away from you. I have always had a desire to improve my situation.” The board member of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC) admits that an accepting work environment starts at the top and that it just can’t be “lip service.” In other words, the CEO must believe in making a change and the roots of the company will grow.
The culture of a company is embedded in the efforts of senior leadership. The rest will follow. That can be both good and bad. Just use NASCAR as an example. The company just now lowered the Confederate flag at speedways, reversing a longstanding tradition that began in 1949.
During Rowell’s time as a baseball player at the University of Minnesota, he wanted to build his network with minority students at the U. Rowell was fortunate to meet fellow Gopher Dave Winfield, and now, the pair recognize a student athlete with the David Winfield Minority Award. Since, 370 minority student-athletes have received this recognition that gives winners a special bond and reminds them that there’s a support system rooting for them.
You’ll see Alex and other MASC members on campus more frequently thanks to the conversations held from Return to Play. A Chicago native, Rowell played football, basketball and baseball at Luther and was All-Conference all four years in two of the four sports. After receiving his degree, Rowell was selected as a first-round draft choice for the Minnesota Twins and played professional baseball for two years in their organization. He’s been a teacher and coach at Minneapolis North High School, Gustavus Adolphus and at Luther. Rowell has served on several local boards, including the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission for over 20 years.