“All participate and all belong.”
It is a simple yet powerful definition of inclusion. In the world of Major League Baseball and all of its family, that is the message that Wendy Lewis and Billy Bean are sending, sharing and wanting all of us to live.
All participate and all belong.
It is so much more than a definition. It is a directive, one that also drives the mission of the Association for Women in Sports Media.
Lewis and Bean, MLB executives with a focus on inclusion and diversity will be joining us as speakers on Sunday, May 24 at the 2015 AWSM Convention in Denver.
Bean, who made it public that he is gay in 1999, is MLB’s Ambassador of Inclusion, a role he accepted last August under former commissioner Bud Selig. He is charged with providing guidance and training related to efforts to support those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community throughout Major League Baseball. He works with Major and Minor League clubs to encourage equal opportunity in accordance with the joint MLB-MLBPA Workplace Code of Conduct.
Bean also has the responsibility of developing educational training initiatives against sexism, homophobia and prejudice, and presents at annual industry events, including the Winter Meetings, the MLB-MLBPA Rookie Career Development Program and the RBI Institute.
Bean, who played in the Major Leagues for parts of six seasons from 1987-89 and 1993-95, wrote a book titled “Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life In and Out of Major League Baseball.” He works actively to dispel the myth and stereotypes that follow people of diversity.
At 50, he still grapples with his decision nearly two decades ago to walk away from the game rather than continue to play professionally while hiding his sexual orientation. His goal is to give young players resources that he didn’t have. Bean acknowledges now that had he had a support system in place back then, he likely wouldn’t have quit baseball.
“I had never been around a gay person before,” he said. “It was hard to live a life where I did not reach out for help. I learned firsthand that you can’t manage everything in your life by yourself.”
Bean would like to “shortcut a lot of experience” and make players aware that the actions they take resonate in the outside world.
“I don’t want to change baseball,” he said. “I don’t want players to feel uncomfortable. I don’t want them to think that we’re trying to force them to say or do or act or be something they’re not. It’s just a matter of whomever it affects, they are role models. Especially now, it’s an instant world, with the way everyone’s on Twitter. Just to be more cautious and understanding and maybe once they’re exposed to the resources, they’ll think differently.”
Lewis is responsible for implementing game-changing Diversity and Inclusion platforms for Major League Baseball’s franchises, its Central Office, MLB Advanced Media and MLB Network.
She has developed and implemented the innovative and wildly successful Diversity Economic Impact Engagement (DEIE) model. DEIE is designed to advance league-wide the level of MLB’s workforce, supply chain and club levels of diversity and inclusion leadership and progress.
A key and groundbreaking component of the DEIE initiative is MLB’s Diversity Business Summit, an unprecedented diversity employment and procurement trade fair event that provides a unique and substantive opportunity for job seekers, business owners, emerging entrepreneurs and community and advocacy leaders to network with MLB Human Resources and Procurement executives. The Summit was officially launched in 2012, co-hosted by the Chicago White Sox in Chicago. The Chicago Summit would be the first time in professional sports that an event of this nature and scope had been staged. The 2013 MLB Diversity Business Summit was co-hosted by the Houston Astros in Houston, and in 2014 the New York Yankees co-hosted in New York City.
She also is responsible for the Diverse Business Partners Program, the premier supplier diversity program in professional sports. “DBP” was established to cultivate new and existing partnerships with minority and women-owned businesses. Under Lewis’ leadership, a greater number of diverse businesses have had an opportunity to participate in the procurement process for MLB’s desired goods and services. Since its formation, more than $1 billion has been spent with thousands of minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
Lewis also serves as a member of the Commissioner’s On-Field Diversity Task Force created in 2013 to address the talent pipeline that impacts the representation and development of diverse players and on-field personnel in Major League Baseball, particularly African-Americans.