Mavs CEO Marshall: Strive Not Only For Diversity, But Inclusion

When Dallas Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall first arrived at the Dallas Mavs office in Dallas, the organization was rocked by headlines that it was a hostile workplace.

She went straight to work, interviewing employees, with the intention of learning the truth, so she could help fixing the organization’s culture.

“I was surprised that it still had the mentality of a startup,” observed Marshall. “I said, this company started 38 years ago. But it’s still run like it’s operating in a garage.”

A gathering of more than 300 attended the December 13th Leadership Dallas Alumni Annual Leadership Luncheon, which featured Marshall as keynote, who took over as Mavs CEO in February. During her on stage conversation, led by Sunwest Communications CEO Crayton Webb, Marshall also opened up about her upbringing, and her work trying to bring not only diversity, but inclusion into organizational cultures.

Marshall worked to create a four-point action plan to change the Mavs’ culture, which has been adopted as a model by other NBA organizations and is being considered by the NFL. Marshall – who retired in 2017 as AT&T’s Senior Vice President of Human resources and the Chief Diversity Officer – said she took the job after she was convinced that team owner Mark Cuban was sincere in his desire to change the environment at the organization.

“There is a difference between diversity and inclusion,” Marshall told the crowd. Diversity is … is being invited to the party, so you can have representation. You can have all the right people at the table. Inclusion … is being asked to dance.”

Marshall said the Mavs organization has fully adopted the inclusion approach, and now has diverse leadership to the lead it forward.

Founded in 1975, Leadership Dallas is the DRC’s flagship leadership development program, aimed at providing our city with an ongoing source of diverse leaders who are prepared and committed to serve as catalysts and sustainers of positive change for the quality of life in the greater Dallas area.

Receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award was Beverley Alridge Wright – from the LD Class of 1999; the honor of Outstanding Service of a Class Representative honor went to Chad Prochaska of the Class of 2014; the Special Service to Leadership Dallas honor went to Pete DeLisle.

The annual leadership luncheon was held at the Weston Galleria Dallas. Event sponsors included Munck Wilson Mandala LLP; Roland Parrish; and TDIndustries.