NFL team owners in search of a new head coach or general manager are now required to have completed inclusive hiring training prior to beginning their search.
The league announced the mandatory requirement in October, and a league source indicated that many of the teams have already received the training. Individuals considered "decision-makers" in the hiring process — team owners, general managers or otherwise — must get the training before beginning.
Though diversity numbers in many NFL ranks have improved over the years, the league has still struggled with diversity among head coaches. Last year, the league welcomed 10 new head coaches, but only three -- Lovie Smith, Mike McDaniel and Todd Bowles -- were men of color. The NFL also saw 12 of its 13 available offensive coordinator roles last season go to white men.
From the start of the 2012 season through the beginning of the 2022 season, more than 80% of all head-coach hires were white men.
Teams are also strongly encouraged, but not required, to enlist an inclusive hiring process coach/expert in their search for a head coach. That person would help ensure the process is fair but wouldn't take part in the decision-making process.
There is no one way that teams take on the training. The NFL offers eight different trainers with their own styles to chose from. The training itself lasts between 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and the training can be virtually or in-person.
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In December, the league provided teams with a 33-page document on equitable hiring practices. The guidebook offers tips on having a more inclusive hiring process, including a "conduct bias check on selection reasoning."
"By requiring all decision-makers -- including club owners -- of head coach and general manager searches to take inclusive hiring training, we aim to enhance the league's hiring practices and support an equitable and inclusive process across all 32 clubs," Jonathan Beane, the NFL's Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, said in a statement provided to CBS Sports. "With this new requirement -- along with other material changes to our polices, programs and procedures we established in 2022 -- we continue to improve our overall hiring process."
Rooney Rule requirements have also been strengthening in recent years. For an open head coach, GM or coordinator position, teams are required to interview two external candidates in-person who are either people of color or women. Teams with interim head coaches or GMs today will have to go through the entire process even if they want to hire the current interim.
The league also included new rules in the offseason designed to slow the hiring process. If a team wishes to interview a head-coaching candidate who's either not in the playoffs or the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, it must wait until three days after the conclusion of the candidate's Week 18 game. In other words, if a team with a vacancy wants to interview a playoff team, it must wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to conduct a virtual interview.
If a team wishes to interview a head-coaching candidate whose team is in the wild-card round, it must wait until the Tuesday or Wednesday after the wild-card round, depending upon what day that team played. That interview could be in person or virtual.
Teams must conduct their initial interview with candidates currently employed by an NFL team before the conclusion of the divisional playoff round. No second interview will be allowed for a candidate on a playoff team until that team is eliminated from postseason contention or until the bye week before the Super Bowl, should the team be competing in the Super Bowl.