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MLB takes a step forward in solving large problem with inaugural class of diversity fellows

On the diversity scorecard, the numbers were poor again for Major League Baseball this season. None of the 30 teams had a minority chief executive, three had a minority in charge of baseball operations, four had a minority as manager.

On Thursday, however, the league took a small step toward solving a large problem. The league announced its inaugural class of diversity fellows, placing 22 women and minorities in the commissioner’s office or in the front office of various teams.

Internships and entry-level positions are great for networking, but they are not accessible to candidates who cannot afford to work for free, or for a minimum wage. Baseball’s diversity dilemma perpetuates itself when team owners and executives fill high-profile jobs with candidates who started developing industry relationships in those internships and entry-level positions.

In the new diversity program, the league has recruited women and minorities and has agreed to pay fellows a wage competitive enough so they could turn down a job in business, finance or law. If the program works as intended, the fellows will work their way up the employment ladder, earning their way into consideration years from now for a top job within the league or one of their its teams.

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“We look at this as an investment,” Renee Tirado, the league’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, told The Times last year.

“This is not an affirmative action program. We’re not going to target Latino and African American kids just because they play baseball and find a job for them. … These are going to be, as the commissioner says, the A+-plus kids. We haven’t been as proactive in getting out there and saying, ‘Come here first, before you go to Goldman [Sachs], or you go to Google.’”

The Dodgers’ fellow, Albert Gilbert, graduated from Harvard Law School in 2015. He has worked as an assistant district attorney for the city of San Francisco and as an associate at the firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius in San Francisco. Gilbert will join the Dodgers’ baseball operations department, which already includes two women.

The Dodgers are among 18 teams employing the initial group, with each team fellowship expected to last 18 months. The Angels are expected to participate in the future.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin


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