NFL launches program to increase partnerships with minority businesses

NFL Source is the league’s latest effort to become more inclusive and distance itself from discrimination allegations that have plagued its reputation in recent years.
NFL logo on the field during an NFL football game
Posted at 1:35 PM, May 22, 2024

The NFL announced a new program on Tuesday that will seek out minority- and women-owned businesses to work with.

According to its newly launched website, NFL Source is a “procurement program that seeks to increase and standardize how the league and clubs do business with local and underrepresented businesses.”

The NFL said in a statement it is specifically looking to increase partnerships with businesses that are 51% owned and operated by a veteran, woman, minority, member of the LGBTQ+ community or a person with disabilities.

There’s a variety of categories the league is interested in procuring businesses for, including day-to-day office operations for things like ticket sales, accounting, legal and marketing. It’s also interested in finding partners for game-day operations that can offer services for landscaping, concessions, security and more.

According to a press release, NFL Source will be rolled out in phases starting with training sessions for staff of each team on the community impact of procuring diverse businesses. A local market test of the program was done for the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions.

The NFL said it also plans to work with U.S. Black Chambers Inc. to help businesses obtain the certifications required to become a league partner.

 “NFL Source provides the league with an opportunity to reinvest funds back into the communities that our clubs and offices reside in and gain exposure to an increased number of businesses,” said Jonathan Beane, senior vice president and chief diversity & inclusion officer at the NFL, in a statement. “Doing business with the NFL can provide unparalleled exposure for businesses and boost local economic mobility.” 

Interested businesses and vendors that fit the criteria for the program can apply online.

NFL Source is the league’s latest effort to become more inclusive and distance itself from discrimination allegations that have plagued its reputation in recent years.

Just last week, the NFL made a point to distance itself from a viral, polarizing commencement speech made by Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker. Speaking to the graduates of Benedictine College, a private Catholic liberal arts school, Butker described diversity, equity and inclusion as “tyranny,” said the women graduates were probably more excited to become homemakers than celebrate their academic or professional achievements and referred to abortion, IVF and surrogacy as “pervasiveness of disorder.”

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” said Beane in a statement released Thursday. “His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

Kansas City Chiefs place kicker Harrison Butker.

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NFL distances itself from controversial comments by Chiefs' Harrison Butker

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Despite adopting the “Rooney Rule” in 2003, named after the late owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers Dan Rooney, which requires its teams to interview minority candidates for leadership positions and launching a social justice initiative in 2017, the NFL has still been challenged by various lawsuits with allegations of discriminatory workplace culture.

Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a joint investigation into “allegations of employment discrimination and a hostile work environment” at the NFL.