Many want to get a woman – namely Spurs assistant Becky Hammon – hired as an NBA head coach.
That’s the wrong goal.
Instead, the focus should be on removing barriers that have nothing to do with coaching. Women, racial minorities and gay people have a harder time advancing in coaching because of those identities, not their coaching ability. Remove those barriers, and greater diversity in coaching will result. But it will come through the best people being hired, not a forced ascent for certain for selected coaches.
And make no mistake: Those barriers exist.
“You can’t have a hot woman in the NBA,” says one veteran NBA coach. “Guys will be trying to f— her every day.”
“By and large the NBA is an incredibly sexist environment,” says the veteran NBA coach. “I listen to players talk about women. I have a daughter and it’s sometimes disturbing. But it’s nothing new. It hasn’t gotten worse over the years. In our society there are men uncomfortable working under women and a handful of our players would have a problem with it.”
This is unacceptable workplace behavior. Companies thrive when they consider all job candidates and make all employees feel comfortable. That is clearly not the case with women in the NBA.
I’m not sure whether this coach is right about players, but the fact that he thinks he is is troubling enough. If he’s in position to hire someone, he won’t hire women he deems attractive. That’s sexist, plan and simple.
Employees and potential employees should be evaluated on their ability to the job, not their attractiveness. Though Hammon becoming a head coach would force some people to confront their backward views, that alone won’t fix the discrimination against women in the NBA.
That’s a wider problem that should be addressed irrespective of any individual.