ATLANTA, March 8, 2015 — The Atlanta Hawks are set to this week name new members of a new diversity council that will develop strategies to ensure the team focuses on diversity.
Nzinga Shaw, the Hawks’ chief diversity and inclusion officer, told members of the Buckhead Business Association (BBA) on Thursday the council, to be composed of both internal and external members, is “almost up and running.” A total of 20 community members and team insiders will be appointed to the council.
“I’m very, very intentional about adding external members to the council because we are an organization that serves the city of Atlanta,” Shaw said. “We have to make sure that we are in the right places in Atlanta, that we are engaging with all of our constituents and that if there emerging communities of people we have not historically touched, that we need to start intentionally doing that. And, the only way to really understand those communities is to have those people a part of our committee.”
The council will make recommendations about proposed programs. But Shaw told BBA members she couldn’t predict what those recommendations might be.
“I’d rather approach this with a white page, white space type of approach so that we can just really be as innovative as possible with no boundaries,” Shaw said.
Shaw was named to her post following a tumultuous offseason for the Hawks’ front office. Leading up to the season, a racially insensitive email from a team co-owner and racially insensitive remarks from the team’s general manager went public and paved the way for the Hawks to create the first chief diversity and inclusion officer position for an NBA team.
“Because there have been so many issues in basketball, I thought this was a great way for us to get ahead of this and for us to lead the space and lead the way in really making organizations like the NBA and like teams a lot more inclusive and diverse,” Shaw said of her decision to join the Hawks.