The NFL is working to bridge the wealth and racial gap by supporting Black-owned businesses.
Contract With Black America Institute
As AfroTech previously reported, the league partnered with Ice Cube’s Contract with Black America Institute to close the racial and economic gap by creating opportunities in the financial, tech, and production sectors that will bolster Black-owned businesses across the nation.
The partnership will engage with various companies including Fearless, a Black-owned software development firm that delivers “digital solutions to solve problems, transform organizations, and promote efficiency,” per the company’s website.
“Being exposed to forward-thinking, Black-owned businesses like Fearless allows the NFL to work with a broader pool of partners and perspectives,” said Belynda Gardner, NFL’s Senior Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, in a statement provided to AfroTech. “Fearless’s work, locally and nationally, with the government and within their community is one of the many reasons we were interested in partnering with them. They have built relationships across our [NFL] offices, adapting their startup mentality to our matrixed organization. This has allowed them to intimately understand our needs and share those learnings with the businesses they cultivate through their incubator. This ripple effect of knowledge and exposure positions future Black-owned companies to secure contracts with the NFL and similar established businesses for years to come.”
Fearless — founded by Delali Dzirasa — will expand its reach with public sector agencies to strengthen their efforts in digital equity and transformation and work closely with the NFL on several digital services projects. Already, Fearless has led various sessions to demonstrate how the league can leverage technology while providing opportunities to underrepresented communities.
“It is always more than just building like a widget or piece of technology. We think about everything from the lens of equity. We think about everything from the lens of how we pull people together to create a better quality of life. We approach all of our problems that way. And so what you’ll find in our engagement with the NFL as we’re building a product is, it’s also supporting cultural change within the organization,” Dzirasa told AfroTech.
He continued: “We’ve been able to participate and lead a couple of sessions around supplier diversity across the entire organization and the league level. We’ve been able to talk about technology that will make it easier for clubs across the NFL to be able to have access to qualified candidates that are women and minorities. So, when they have the general manager jobs and the coaching jobs, the excuse of, ‘We don’t know anybody in that space,’ [or] ‘We don’t know anyone qualified’ goes away. Our ability to leverage technology to drive some of that impact is really what Fearless is all about.”
Indicator Of Success
As for the marker of success for the NFL’s efforts, Dzirasa understands it’s far greater than Fearless itself and he hopes to see permanent change within the organization that will create success for all businesses involved.
“For me, it isn’t about Fearless at all. It is about if there’s a long-term and permanent kind of culture change within the NFL,” Dzirasa said to AfroTech. “They understand that there are qualified vendors that are out there that are minorities and that can do the work. So, if we can use this platform to raise up others and they’re getting opportunities and they’re getting deals, to me, that’s a success — once there’s been a permanent change with the organization in a way that is a win-win for the vendors involved, there’s fresh blood in the organization, they’re pushing out amazing capabilities, and driving great products and services for [the] NFL to win across the board.”