51-year-old Kim Pegula, the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres co-owner, who is also the first female to be the president of both an NFL and an NHL team, has touched on the importance of Diversity in building up a successful organization.
Born a south Korean and adopted by an American family, Pegula has been an owner of those two teams and the president of Pegula Sports Entertainment. She also serves on two NFL committees; business ventures and Super Bowls and significant events.
ESPN has sought the opinion of female executives following allegations of sexual and verbal Diversity of Washington football team organizations. Pegula is one who would know much about Diversity considering her ethnicity, that of her husband, and the knowledge she has on sports.
Is Diversity in organizations important?
“When people ask me why diversity matters, I tell them to spend a week with my husband and me,” she spoke to ESPN’s John Keim. “Terry and I are diverse in age, ethnicity, and a variety of other traits. But those differences combined are our biggest strengths. They have gotten us through the 27 years of our marriage. Raising three kids and running multiple businesses”.
“It has served us well having two owners to look at the situation differently. Hear different points and bring different ideas to the table. Sometimes we arrive at the same answer, sometimes we don’t, and sometimes we are both wrong. After all, no matter how diverse we are, we are both still human”.
Pegula understands that she and her husband will not correctly depict Diversity. Still, it has helped her appreciate that their unique thoughts, experience, race, and gender are what helped them become owners of two professional sports teams. She insists that her husband has helped her realize a lot of things.
Despite being criticized for many of sabers’ problems, for paying salaries to former employees, for laying high profile executives as a cost-cutting measure, Pegula and her husband haven’t faulted. They keep working together for the good of their teams.
She has admitted encouraging the employees to learn and listen from black employees and staff, to facilitate diversity and inclusion while creating a dialogue to empower employees to change and adjust to new processes and policies. Pegula also believes that Diversity is significant in moving forward.
“Diversity matters, quite simply, because the world we live in is diverse. Our fans are diverse, our players are diverse, and we need that diversity of thought and background reflected in our organizations as we try each day to become better”.
Women empowerment and equality
Pegula believes in women’s empowerment and equality. She has them in higher places to facilitate matters in the sport. She recognizes that having women in the NFL has positively affected the Bills. “I do believe a female presence in football meetings, representing the organization, and being visible is a key decision-maker, is beneficial.” To accompany her words with action, she has employed 50 full-time female employees, including five full-time interns, to work with players in pivotal roles.
Pegula remembers when her husband would push her to participate in postgame decisions, football meetings to draft interviews, and scouting meetings. Now she works with fellow female coaches like Kathryn Smith and Callie Brownson. Pegula also acknowledged the fact that the football league is now helping women build and support teams.
“The league has added the support that helped bring women to build our team. The NFL has a champion in Samantha Rapoport, who, in her role as a senior director of Diversity and inclusion from the league, has been instrumental in connecting women whose passion is to work in football with clubs looking to add skilled women to their staff”.
Pegula said she had had her share with discrimination working in a male-dominated industry. She has been in situations where she was asked to show her ID to prove she is the owner of a club. Pegula is not the only one who has to go through this; many women have to deal with dressing decently for games because they only outline a dress code for men.
Pegula believes that there are many roles fitted for people of any gender or race, and she is encouraged by where they are headed as an organization.