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Kim Ng's role as GM will have 'a huge impact on the league': MLB Chief People and Culture Officer

Michele Meyer-Shipp MLB Chief People and Culture Officer joined Yahoo Finance to discuss the importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Sports.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: Well, from politics to sports, there is a big push underway to prioritize diversity and also inclusion across all industries and all sectors. So for more on this and what exactly is happening in sports, we want to bring in Michelle Meyer-Shipp. She is MLB's chief people and culture officer there on the efforts underway to drive some of the change that we had seen in sports over the last several months.

And Michelle, let's just start with the news that we got earlier this month. And that, of course, is that the Marlins has named Kim Ng as its GM. She's the first female, first Asian-American to hold this role. This is a massive step forward just in terms of diversity at the top ranks of baseball. What kind of impact do you see this having on the league going forward?

MICHELLE MEYER-SHIPP: I think it's going to have a huge impact on the league moving forward. You know, Kim is by far more than qualified for this job. We're really excited to see her in the role. I think what this shows us is it picks up on the trajectory that we have in baseball around women in senior positions.

You know, just this past season, for example, we also named our first ever female coach in baseball, Alyssa Nakken. So that coupled with Kim, coupled with the fact that we're seeing more and more women in club front offices and in central baseball front offices in senior roles is significant. And I think it is a sign of more progression to come for women in baseball.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Michelle, it's great to see you again. And you and I have talked several times about how do all of us who are in organizations who want to bring about change like this take part in bringing about change. So I was curious, at Major League Baseball, is this the kind of thing that's being spearheaded from the top down, or are the individual teams doing this? Is it in conjunction with everybody? What does it look like there?

MICHELLE MEYER-SHIPP: That's a great question, Adam, and it is great to see you. Listen, it's a combined effort. You know, I like to say-- it sounds corny, but it takes a village, right? So I've been in baseball now for a couple of months only, and I've been fascinated to see the collaboration on efforts like this both between the clubs and central baseball.

So we're working together to roll out a host of programs that help support our women, develop our women, and other underrepresented groups. And we work together with the clubs and the owners of the various clubs to really think about how we're going to source a wide net to recruit diverse talent. And then once we get that talent in the door, how do we retain, grow, and advance? And again, Kim is just another fine example of that work and the results of it. So I'm excited about what's to come.

SEANA SMITH: And Michelle, to that point, how much of the problem here has been a pipeline issue? When we talk about the fact that women and people of color need to be set up for success in sports, how much this has just been this pipeline problem over the last couple of years?

MICHELLE MEYER-SHIPP: I think it's a pipeline problem and, obviously, you know, a support and development problem. And we have to work on both. You can't do one without the other. You know, one of the things I say about a leaky pipeline is, you know, you've got to build that pipeline. But even once you have the pipeline and you get talent in the door, the question becomes, what are you doing to support, grow, and advance that talent, right?

So we're actually trying to care for both through our different rules around recruitment, our Selig rule around the different development programs that we have for women and for other underrepresented professionals. Both of those things have to be pushed and motivated at the same time to drive that progress.

ADAM SHAPIRO: What was it like at MLB the day that this was announced officially? Were women who work behind the scenes who we may not know, were you all-- was everyone talking about this?

MICHELLE MEYER-SHIPP: Oh, everybody was so incredibly excited. I mean, it really was a big deal. The emails were flying. The phone calls were flying. You know, I was actually at a conference focused around African-American players at that time. And Kim popped into the meeting, and everybody kind of cheered her on. We're really very excited for her.

And again, you know, this on the heels of our first female coach, right, on the heels of some other senior level women promotions over the last couple of years, it's just a sign of progress finally being made in the sport. And we're really-- we're just really, really excited. I'm still overjoyed about it. I just can't say enough good things. I'm really happy for her and for baseball.

SEANA SMITH: And Michelle, going off of that, just, what would you like to see not only corporate leaders do, but also political leaders, to make sure that we do continue to see change? Because I feel like we had made such strides, especially over the last couple of months. And the last thing we want to do is lose any of this momentum.

MICHELLE MEYER-SHIPP: You know, we have to be intentional. You know, and it's funny because earlier, you guys were talking about COVID and vaccines and things around, you know, the pandemic. What I would say here is, it has become really clear and a lot of research has shown that women are falling out of the workforce significantly at very high numbers because of the pandemic.

So we have to double down on being intentional about not only sourcing female talent for our pipeline, but we have to double down our retaining them, on growing them and developing them. Because given the pandemic and the impact it's had on women, if we don't do that, we're going to have a really hard way moving forward with attracting and keeping women in the workforce.

ADAM SHAPIRO: You brought up the intentional. And then we got news today-- it's not baseball-related, but that Linda Thomas Greenfield has been-- is going to be the pick for President-elect Biden to be the next United States ambassador. Two-part question for you. First, that's got to be something I would imagine-- well, tell me what is that like for women and women of color to watch that? And then, two, are you expecting more of that kind of intentional word-- he's living up to his word as he makes appointments?

MICHELLE MEYER-SHIPP: Yeah, I am-- so I'm very excited about that, first of all, Adam. I am personally motivated and inspired by it, and it just makes me really feel great about the progress we're making. And you know what? I think that the President-elect will continue in that trajectory.

You know, he stated that early on during the campaign that he was going to do it. And that, you know, came through, as we watch his selection in Kamala Harris. And I think that we will, too, see it in his future appointments. So I think more to come, but he definitely is someone who I think is walking in intentionality as well.

SEANA SMITH: Michelle, I think a lot of people, when they watch or listen or read about these issues, they almost feel like they can't do enough because they're not in a position to hire. They're not in a position to see change at the executive level. For the people who are the younger employees, the lower level employees, what role do you see them playing, or what role can they play when they necessarily don't see-- when they're not making the hiring decisions, or they're not making some of these tough decisions at the top.

MICHELLE MEYER-SHIPP: That's a great question. You know what? I think they have to get engaged and use their voices. So a lot of organizations today have things like they have diversity councils. They have employee resource groups. They have all sorts of efforts around diversity and inclusion. And I think it is incredibly prudent upon our younger generation to speak up and have their voices heard in that space.

And here's the thing I tell senior leaders all the time. They don't know what they don't know about our employees' experience, right, through the whole talent pipeline. So we need our younger professionals to speak up when they see something, to speak up when they see an opportunity, and to find ways to also be really clear and let people know what roles and what stretch assignments and opportunities they themselves are willing to take on to help drive progress forward. So it's a little bit of, raise your hand and speak up. And it's also, raise your hand and give your time and your energy to help move things forward.

SEANA SMITH: Michelle Meyer-Shipp, always great to have you back. We hope to have you back again soon. MLB's chief people and culture officer, we really appreciate you taking the time to join us today.

MICHELLE MEYER-SHIPP: Thank you so much. Take care. See you both.