Corey Smith currently oversees the diversity and inclusion department for Major League Baseball. With 25 years in procurement and 20 years in diversity, Smith is an expert in strategic sourcing, supplier diversity and overall diversity and inclusion.
Rolling out spoke with the Columbia University graduate about how he increases awareness of major league baseball in urban communities, his daily work routine and how he thinks diversity programs enhance a corporation’s bottom line.
You work to increase the awareness of MLB in urban communities. What does that entail?
Our overall objective is to always make sure that we are promoting our game in the most authentic way, across all platforms, and engaging all audiences. We endeavor to believe that everybody can truly be a fan of baseball, it’s just what does that look like for individuals? So, we come up with programming initiatives, processes, both internally and externally, that allow for everyone, to not only have access to our games but, to enjoy them through a variety of mediums.
What does your day-to-day routine look like?
There are no two days that are alike around here. I am in the office often, but I do travel. It depends on what I’m working on. For example, even today alone, I’ve had four or five different meetings, around four or five different topics we have this year. [this year] is the 100-year anniversary of the Negro Leagues, which is celebrated as being organized on Feb. 13, 1920. So, I’ve had several meetings today with different departments internally around how MLB is going to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues. We’re talking about not only doing an activation in February but how we can make this a year-long celebration. We’re going to activate at different teams, different clubs, to make sure that throughout the entire league, everybody understands how important the Negro League was, not just to MLB but to baseball in general.
Why do you think diversity programs are becoming more important and visible now?
There are numerous studies that show how [diversity and inclusion] can enhance profitability in corporate America. We’ve moved past the conversation around this just being the right thing to do, and have really proven the point that having an inclusive culture in your corporation actually positively impacts your bottom line.
There are studies that say if you have diversity among your C-suite, whether that’s gender diversity or ethnic diversity, your productivity and profitability increase. There are studies that say, even in your average meeting, in any conference room, in any corporation in America, as long as there is diversity in that conference room, around whatever subject they’re talking about, you are almost guaranteed to get better and brighter ideas out of that room, rather than being in a homogeneous setting in which everybody thinks the same, therefore they’re saying the same and supporting the same. I think corporate America has caught on. Baseball has certainly caught on.