Preview: Diversity and Inclusion in the Sports Industry

Photo provided by Christa Stout

Christa Stout is a local from Portland who spent about ten years away before coming home to work for the Portland Timbers. While she was away, she worked in the nonprofit sector doing sport and social change work in various places like Central and South America, South Africa, Australia, and Eastern Europe. While in school, Stout spent her undergrad years studying psychology and sociology, then continued to grad school to receive her MBA.

Stout now works with the Portland Trail Blazers, overseeing the team’s community work for about the past four years. Her part of the organization includes managing corporate social responsibility, such as the team  foundation, corporate/community partnerships, player and alumni events, social and environmental impact, diversity equity and inclusion, and youth engagement.

SXSW 2018 will be Stout’s first time to participate: In fact, it will be her first time to Austin as well. She will speak with Hanif Fazal on a panel called Diversity and Inclusion in the Sports Industry. Stout comments, “It was an honor to get accepted to speak, and my co-speaker Hanif and I are excited to get the opportunity to talk about a subject that is super important to us.”

She will not only be speaking at a dual panel but also be speaking in a Mentor session about her work and the Portland Trail Blazers. In this session she will be in a one-on-one format, answering questions and talking with people who want to learn more about the sports industry and sport as a tool for social and environmental impact.

Q&A with Christa:

What are the positive effects that diversity equity and inclusion have in the sports industry?

There are honestly so many positive impacts for companies focusing on and genuinely valuing diversity equity and inclusion. Not just in the sports industry but any business, work or school environment. People should feel valued, heard, connected and seen because when we genuinely feel included in any space, we thrive. Companies want a more engaged workforce since we know that workplaces with high engagement have less turnover, more productivity, and stronger cultures. So genuinely valuing diversity equity and inclusion work benefits every individual, and the collective whole.

What are you most looking forward to discussing in your panels?

One of the many things I have learned from working with Hanif and his company, the Center for Equity and Inclusion, is that diversity equity and inclusion work is super personal. It isn’t training that you can take in two hours, check a box, and suddenly your company is diverse and inclusive. It is a journey, AND an issue that impacts everyone at a deep level either personally or directly through friends and family. When we better understand each other and how this work impacts people as humans, it helps us continue to push for more inclusive and equitable spaces in our worlds. So, I am looking forward to helping change the conversation around this work and trying to bring people along the journey.

What would like the attendees to know before your panel discussion?

I want people to know that like most people, I don’t have everything figured out. I’m doing my best to advance diversity equity and inclusion work at our company along with a lot of other people.  I don’t have all the answers and I am representing a lot of people who have been working on diversity equity and inclusion at our company for a while. So, I hope that attendees will come to the session open minded to learn and think a little differently about how business can be done. Also, to realize that issues around diversity, equity and inclusion are everywhere in sports and society.  It takes a lot of committed people to make a difference.


Friday, March 9
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

JW Marriott – Salon C


Find out more: Diversity and Inclusion in the Sports Industry


Featured image: Burst

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