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Hashtag Sports & Intel Sports Announce Industry-Wide Diversity & Inclusion Initiative

Unsplash/Cortney White
Unsplash/Cortney White

Hashtag Sports, the premier conference, awards, and community for media and marketing professionals and the next generation of talent across the converging sports and entertainment industries, has mobilized a working committee alongside Intel Sports aimed at increasing gender equality and representation in the business behind sports and entertainment.

Led by Sandra Lopez, VP and GM of Intel Sports, the first of its kind committee will set aim at enabling the sports and entertainment industries to more effectively represent the audiences they are engaging. Research from McKinsey found that among younger generations of sports fans, the gender gap is closing, with women making up as much as 45% of Millennial sports fans.

Additionally, a study from the Boston Consulting Group shows that increasing diversity on leadership teams unlocks innovation and creativity, adding to the bottom line by as much as 19% and driving market growth. As the 21st-century sports fan continues to diversify, it is critical that sports-led content and campaigns as well as the marketers and creators behind them reflect the modern fan who is young, multicultural, and increasingly female.

Hashtag Sports Logo“Intel has seen business and societal impact when we foster a diverse and inclusive environment. As we continue our journey, we believe we should challenge other industries to do the same, including sports. Based on the most recent Race and Gender Report Cards from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida, women are underrepresented in positions of power or influence at senior leadership levels across all sports. That is why Intel Sports decided to partner with Hashtag Sports to not only challenge the industry but to also make forward progress in advancing women as well as underrepresented minorities in leadership roles,” said Sandra Lopez, VP Intel Sports.

“We’ve seen the power of a collective group, bound together for a greater cause as evidenced by the outpouring support,” Lopez added. “The comradery and empathy in our community are strong, and I am proud and equally enthusiastic to work together as we explore new ideas and opportunities for change.”

In 2015, Intel challenged both itself and the technology industry to establish a more diverse and inclusive workforce in order to ensure the organization was able to effectively represent the markets that it serves as well as innovate and drive tangible business results. Since that announcement, Intel has achieved full representation in its U.S. workforce two years ahead of the 2020 goal.


As Intel moves into the next decade, the company will extend their impact by partnering with others to advance diversity and inclusion across its global workforce and industry. As part of their RISE strategy, Intel intends to expand opportunities through technology inclusion and digital readiness initiatives.

Joining Sandra Lopez on the D&I working committee will be 10 members of The Engagement Academy of Sports & Entertainment, a society of sports media, marketing, and entertainment professionals whose mission is to inspire creative talent of all ages while championing diversity, inclusion, and new ideas that galvanize the sports and entertainment industries. Academy members are responsible for determining the winners of The Hashtag Sports Awards, announced each year at the annual Hashtag Sports conference, which recognizes excellence in fan engagement.

Founding members include Jill Gregory (Chief Marketing Officer, NASCAR), Jarvis Sam (Talent Sourcing & Diversity Recruiting, Nike), Alex Flanagan (Partner & Head of Women’s Growth, The Familie V2), Taylor Rooks (Talent, Turner Sports), Tyger Danger (Director of Communications, Bleacher Report), Shiz Suzuki (AVP Sponsorships and Experiential Marketing, AT&T), Dev Sethi, (Head of Sports, Instagram), TJ Adeshola (Head of U.S. Sports, Twitter), Blake Stuchin (VP, Digital Media Business Development, NFL), and Sarah Crennan (Head of Content, Yahoo Sports/Verizon Media).

Building on this foundation, Hashtag Sports will add industry partners and select new members to support the initiative’s growth and reflect the perspectives of all key industry stakeholders, including athletes, teams, leagues, federations, sponsors and advertisers, agencies, talent, and media companies.

“Now, more than ever in the midst of the global pandemic and racial unrest in the United States, we have an opportunity to unite and catalyze through collaborative coalitions that will build a rising tide out of the economic losses experienced and the calls for action expressed by black Americans,” said Anthony Caponiti, CEO & Founder at Hashtag Sports.

“The Engagement Academy’s working committee will advocate for the industry to proactively build organizations that represent all genders, backgrounds, and voices and to do so with purpose and accountability. It’s challenging yet simple—executive leadership, content creators, and marketers should look and think like their fans,” added Caponiti.

After months of organization, the committee will begin working this month in the lead up to Hashtag Sports 2020 on October 21-22 to combine existing market research with first-hand knowledge and experience. This work will include evangelizing the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce and encouraging sports and entertainment executives to pledge a business commitment to the advancement of opportunities for women and minorities in the workplace, with a focus on enabling the next generation of marketers and content creators.

Individuals and organizations interested in supporting the effort may reach out directly to Emily Black at the contact information listed below.

About Jerry Milani

Jerry Milani is a writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 30 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and as a freelance professional. His PR clients have included Wizard World and FAN EXPO, which produce pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America, USA Wrestling, the National Lacrosse League, Strat-O-Matic Media, the Pacific Life Open and Pilot Pen Tennis tournaments and dozens of others. Milani is also the director of athletic communications for Caldwell University. He is a proud graduate of North Rockland High School and Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at Jerry (at) JerryMilani (dot) com.

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