A diversity report examining racial and gender hiring in Major League Soccer reported another boost in scores for the hiring of women, marking a second straight year of significant gains after four years of declines.

Thursday’s report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida assigned an overall B-plus grade, with an A for racial hiring and a B for gender hiring. The report examined a range of positions at the league headquarters and within franchises using data from August that covered the 2022 season.

The overall and racial-hiring grades were similar to 2021, but the gender-hiring data stood out for the second straight year.

MLS earned a 69.9 score in that category for 2020, the league’s lowest gender score since 2007. But the league jumped to 74.7 points in 2021 (a C letter grade), then jumped another 6.8 percentage points to an 81.2 for this year’s report card to extend that positive trajectory another year.

“They had as big of a gain in a particular category as we’ve seen almost in any of the Racial and Gender Report Cards in their gender grade,” TIDES director and lead report Richard Lapchick said in an interview with The Associated Press, adding: “They’ve really moved into very positive territory this time.”

The league posted an A-minus for gender hiring at its league office in New York, with women filling 40.5% of all positions and women of color filling 19.1%.

At the team level, the league posted C grades and gains in women working as both vice presidents (28.7%) and in senior administration positions (28.2%) such as assistant general manager or chief legal counsel. The league earned a B grade for gender in professional administration positions, with women filling 37.1% for a gain of 6.5 percentage points.

TIDES also evaluated C-suite executive positions – such as chief financial or operating officers — in a separate category that didn’t factor into the league’s overall score. MLS earned a B there, with women filling 34.6% of positions for a gain of 5.8 percentage points.

Among the racial-hiring categories, the league posted an A for head coaches with people of color filling 35.7% of those positions and an A-minus for assistant coaches (32.1%), though both scores dropped from last year. The league also received an A-plus in league-office positions (43.4%) and players (61.9%).

The league also received an A-plus for its diversity initiatives under Commissioner Don Garber.

“Most of the notes across the board were really positive,” Lapchick said.

In a statement to the AP, Sola Winley – MLS executive vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer – said those efforts represent “a core value and operating principle” for MLS.

“The progress that our league and clubs are making in racial and gender hiring is intentional and rooted in our aspiration to be a league of choice for a new North America,” Winley said. “Sustaining progress is only possible because we have committed leadership and ownership with unequivocal expectations to be among the best leagues in the world.

“As an enterprise our inclusion and impact efforts are focused on effective policy enhancements, a commitment to equitable representation, developing the best talent on and off the pitch, and collaborating with our partners to deepen and broaden the connection with our fans and diverse communities that we call home.”

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