U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., who is closely related to the family which owns the National Football League’s (NFL) Pittsburgh Steelers, wants to take the “Rooney Rule” nationwide.
Rooney teamed up with U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., on Tuesday to sponsor a resolution “which will encourage fair hiring practices to provide minorities with a fair opportunity to participate.”
The Florida Republican’s team showcased the “Rooney Rule” to support the congressman’s efforts.
“The Rooney Rule, formulated by Daniel Rooney – uncle of Congressman Rooney and chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team – requires each NFL team with a job opening for a coach or general manager position to interview at least one minority candidate for that position,” Congressman Rooney’s office noted. “Established in the NFL in 2003, the purpose of this rule was to ensure that minority coaches, especially African Americans, would be considered for high level coaching positions. After its implementation, the percentage of African American coaches in the NFL rose from 6 percent to 22 percent as a result of the rule.”
Rooney’s resolution would “encourage the development of best business practices to fully utilize the potential of the United States.”
“The resolution states that the House encourages each corporate, academic and social entity, regardless of size or field of operation to first, develop an internal rule modeled after a successful business practice, such as the Rooney Rule, in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and; second, to institute this rule to make sure that the entity will always consider candidates from underrepresented populations before making final hiring decisions,” Rooney’s office stated. “The resolution does not create or alter federal law, it simply encourages corporate, academic and social entities to develop internal rules similar to the NFL’s Rooney Rule. This resolution is non-binding and is not something that will be sent to the president. The intention is meant to inspire companies to widen their pool of job applicants, but it is does not mandate quotas or regulations on whom a business interviews or hires.”
On Tuesday, Rooney explained why he brought out the resolution.
“The success we have seen from the Rooney Rule in the NFL is evidence that people of all genders, colors, and physical abilities can achieve excellence when given the chance,” Rooney said. “We hope this resolution encourages the private sector to emulate the policy and put into place their own voluntary initiatives for a more diverse pool of applicants for senior and leadership positions.”
Hastings noted the bipartisan support for the resolution. In the Senate, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, is spearheading the proposal with Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Kamala Harris of California as co-sponsors.
“It is important that we continue working to ensure a level playing field for minorities and underrepresented groups in companies and organizations across the country,” Hastings said. “I am pleased to join with Congressman Tom Rooney in introducing this bipartisan resolution. Furthermore, I also want to thank Senator Tim Scott for introducing the companion resolution in the Senate, and for his steadfast commitment of moving this critically important issue forward. It is my sincere hope that we will see swift passage of this measure in both chambers.”
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