Tamika Mallory Calls Out ‘Panini America’ for Lack of Black Leaders in Their Company

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Tamika Mallory calls out Panini America for their lack of Black leaders within their company, according to Forbes.

Social activist Tamika D. Mallory, co-founder of Until Freedom, and Black Church Political Action Committee co-founder Reverend Michael McBride are holding accountable sports and entertainment collectibles organization Panini America, Inc., a sports card and memorabilia trading company, for its lack of Black leaders and insisting on the organization reassess its hiring practices.

Mallory and McBride sent a letter to Panini America CEO Mark Warsop on Monday, noting the organization’s business is derived from profiting on the images of Black and Brown athletes, yet, the Panini’s executive team does not include members of the community, which it gains its revenue.

Mallory’s office was notified how the company was failing at implementing DEI, “It was brought to our attention about Panini’s imbalance in the ratio between the African-American athletes that are a major part of their business to the senior leadership of their company,” she said to Forbes. “We started to do some research and got into the numbers, and at least about 75% of their business is with Black athletes. When we looked to find African-American senior leaders, we found none.”

In 2021, according to Bloomberg News, Panini had a $3 billion valuation or more. Mallory is appalled that the sports memorabilia company has generated billions in revenue and has only three Black employees out of 800 listed on the company’s LinkedIn. Tamika Mallory is calling out the disparity by launching a campaign soliciting information about the few African Americans working at Panini.

“Another part of the conversation is around matriculation. What is happening with the Black employees within the company? I saw that their average salary is around $50,000 for their employees. So if that is the case, the question becomes, as a company, they are a $3 billion company, what is happening with your employees? How are they being empowered to grow to senior-level positions and earn the salaries that accompany those positions?” she inquires.

Tamika Mallory demands that Panini undergo the necessary internal work to make the company a more fair and equitable space for African Americans. Coming out of 2020, many corporations pledged they would improve their diversity, equity, and inclusion systems and support the communities that represent their consumer base, which they utilize for revenue.

“There was this big commitment, and we heard so much about companies who wanted to make those changes in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. They had this awakening; if you will, they wanted to make a shift and become part of the change we could all see is so desperately needed. But as with many of these things, if not held accountable, these companies will fall back into old ways, and we can’t allow that to happen,” she adds.

“Now, I’m not saying that Panini was one of those companies to make that statement. But the entire culture just three years ago was that corporate America has to change, that corporate America has to catch up to a movement that’s happening in our society, where Black people need to be protected in more ways than one obviously, systemically we have issues within institutions, whether it be policing, in educational institutions. Still, the institution of corporations also needs to catch up and be very intentional about doing better for the people. So, yes, I think that certainly [there needs to be] investment in the community, but even in-house, they are not doing a good job of ensuring that their space lives up to a fair and equitable landscape.”

Tamika Mallory Calls for Accountability from Panini America

Ideally, Mallory would prefer to see CEO Mark Warsop acknowledge “the fact that Black people are not just to be used for our bodies, face, and talent,” which enriches his company but that they also place Black executives in the boardroom who can steer and shape company policy.

“The reason why the spirit of 2020 from so many to be more intentional about their diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, it’s so important because we should have learned that it’s not enough to pay people, to do business, and not be concerned about the conditions of the communities that these athletes and your employees come from. When you have African Americans sitting in positions of power within companies, they have a better touch point of what may be some of the additional exercises and activities that can happen that will strengthen our communities and strengthen the athletes’ ability to reach back into their communities and do real substantive work that will hopefully make substantive change. It’s impossible to know those things and/or to lead that type of change if you do not understand and have a sensitivity that only people from the community can have,” she argues.

Mallory would like to see Panini become more socially conscious and should use its brand and resources to address the issues in our society.

“When you have 75% of a base of individuals who happen to be African Americans, then the company policy, intention, and its theory of change should be focused around those that majority number. These corporations can poll the athletes that they work with and find out [their] concerns and how do [they] help [them] push for legislation to be passed. How do we get more community centers in disadvantaged communities around the nation? How do we create space where there are not as many food deserts for our children and elders? There are so many things that you can be involved in, but it would take a certain level of intention and concern with more than just the environment that helps you profit and be a successful company,” she explains with fervor.

“Also, it will not happen if there are no people like us activists and organizers to sound the alarm so that these companies understand that this is the moment when they have to do better, the veil is being lifted, and what is being exposed is discrimination, it’s inequity. There are practices that many of these companies take part in every day that are harmful to our communities by the fact that they are either silent and or not inclusive of the communities that they represent.”

Mallory Plans to Spread Awareness About Panini America to Black Athletes

When asked what her reaction will be if Panini continues to take a laissez-faire stance concerning their lack of Black executive representation, Mallory intends to open discussion with athletes and bring awareness that the sports collectible company does not represent them in C-suite positions.

“Their customers, who purchase the cards, and engage in trading, may not have thought about what diversity and inclusion look like within the company. So we’re now bringing it to the forefront, allowing their customers, the players, suppliers, and others to see where they are from a moral perspective concerning their concern about the 75 percentile of their business. As we go along, we will see whether their attitude matches the lack of inclusion within their company from an equitable perspective,” she says.

The first step of her campaign is to discuss with sports leagues like FIFA, the NBA, NFL, the NBA and NFL Players Association, and the English Premier League – to encourage them to reach out to Panini, examine its corporate infrastructure, and offer advice for improvement.

“The first place Panini can start is [hiring a firm] that can help them to do the work of figuring out what is happening with matriculation, with the human resource department and interviews that are being done [to find out] why are you not retaining the African American applicants? Are African Americans even applying for these jobs? Where are you recruiting from? Many questions should be asked, and hopefully, they will hire a firm specializing in this to help them do the internal work,” Mallory offers. “Some of the companies that we are going to be reaching out to this week [it] would be helpful [for them] to make calls and say, ‘Let me share with you some of the practices that we’ve used, and it’s helping to make our company better.’ Because we know the more representation you have of a particular group, that same group is interested in working with you, and the more they begin to trust the brand. So, diversity shouldn’t be considered inconvenient; it’s a good business model.”

How do you guys feel about what Tamika Mallory is doing to draw attention to Panin America and it’s lack of Black leaders? Let us know in the comment.


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