MLB cuts ties with executive search firm after it fails to deliver minority candidates

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A little over a year ago Major League Baseball announced that it had retained executive search firm Korn Ferry “to provide a number of support services for qualified candidates to assist in their interview preparations for key baseball operations positions.” MLB said that “Korn Ferry will give special emphasis to the preparation of minority and female candidates.”

After a year in which the executives hired by MLB clubs were, somehow, even more homogenously white, male and Ivy League educated than ever, Korn Ferry clearly failed miserably in its stated task and now MLB has severed ties with the firm. Rob Manfred yesterday:

“The Korn Ferry relationship on minority hiring, we’ve really shifted. Their involvement at the industry level is going to be curtailed on these types of projects because, as we went along in the process, we came to realize there’s a potential for conflicts when they’re doing searches and doing work for us centrally.’’

As USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes, most of the executives hired for GM and other top baseball operations jobs were part of a tight network of men who, at one point or another, worked in the Indians organization. The implication of Manfred’s comments is that these candidates were identified by Korn Ferry, but that’s not entirely clear. Either way, the results of the Korn Ferry-led diversity initiative failed and it either was unable to break up the old boys network in place or, possibly, helped reinforce it.

Manfred says MLB is going to take matters into its own hands on this front. What that means is unclear, but it’s crystal clear that the league’s desire for greater diversity in leadership ranks is going unfulfilled.