Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall discusses the importance on Juneteenth, and making racial equity, diversity, and inclusion central to business.
Q: Can you share your view and thoughts on the importance of Juneteenth?
A: I think it is important at this time in our nation’s history for everyone to honor and celebrate African American heritage and culture. Juneteenth, the end of slavery in the United States, is a very important part of our story. Black families were finally able to begin their journey by becoming U.S. citizens, to have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – but we still have a lot of work to do. We can reflect on the past to help us continue the fight for racial equality. It’s been 155 years since the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, and we are still working hard to fight social and economic injustices. Juneteenth 2020, as well as July 4, 2020, provides opportunities for us to reflect on America’s promises to ALL of its citizens.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Q: Corporate statements and actions toward racial equity have been swift over the past couple of weeks, including Nike announcing Juneteenth as a paid holiday. Will the Dallas Mavericks organization recognize or celebrate Juneteenth? If so, how?
A: Yes. See below email that went out to our team this morning.
As you may know, Juneteenth (June 19) is the oldest national holiday commemorating emancipation from slavery in the United States. As a company, we will join many NBA teams and others across the country in honoring and celebrating Juneteenth. This Friday, the Mavericks will be recognizing this important holiday, and we are encouraging employees to use this day off to pause and further educate ourselves on the history of race in our country.
Please consider leveraging some of the resources sent to you detailing African American history in films such as Just Mercy and 13th. Additionally, the NBA will extend an invitation to our employees to a virtual watch party, giving employees an early look at Magnolia Pictures’ new film about the life and legacy of John Lewis entitled, “John Lewis: Good Trouble.” Details regarding the NBA party to follow.
We invite you to join us. Thank you for making the Mavs a model of inclusion, equity, and diversity.”
Q: The current Black Lives Matter movement and momentum is creating valuable discussions on policy considerations around many forms of systemic racism. How do you plan to further incorporate racial equity into your business, diversity and inclusion, and strategic plans?
A: First, we created a safe space for our employees to express how they are feeling. As one of our core values, their physical and emotional safety is a priority. We held courageous conversations with our black employees, with our entire staff, and with our community. Our Mavs Courageous Conversations, a community event held at the American Airlines Center’s Victory Plaza on June 9, was themed Listen, Learn, Unite. It provided an opportunity to talk about systemic racism and disparities facing the African American community.
Mavs players, staff, partners, and members of the community joined together for the discussion where we had a diverse group and a meaningful conversation. We have created a resource guide that includes a list of tools and resources to cultivate healthy conversations and understandings, and provides a framework for how we can continue to deepen and strengthen our diverse and inclusive culture.
The event included three conversations: Reactions to the George Floyd murder (panel); “Welcome to My World” experiential exercise (small groups); and “Where are We Now and Where Do We Go from Here” (panel). Speakers and guests included: Mark Cuban, Mavs players and coaches, John Olajide (2020 DRC Chair, and President of Axxess), Dr. Michael Hinojosa (Dallas ISD Superintendent), Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, and County Judge Clay Jenkins, among others.
After the event, we created a ‘Mavs Take ACTION’ plan to address six systems of systemic racism and oppression: public policy, employment, child welfare, criminal justice, education, and health care. We will work with our community leaders and policy makers to help implement actionable solutions. We will also continue to execute on our robust Mavs inclusion and diversity strategy that was developed more than two years ago (e.g. increase spending with minority businesses).
Our workplace promise is ‘Every voice matters and everybody belongs.’ This is at the heart of our Mavs Take ACTION plan to address racial inequities and disparities in a sustainable way.