George McCaskey is earning recognition around the NFL for doing something as simple as listening. The Bears chairman received a shoutout from Sam Rapoport, NFL senior director of diversity and inclusion, for stopping by the NFL’s Women’s Forum, not to share anything, but to sit back and learn.
The Women’s Forum is a two-day event which aims to help women learn about leadership opportunities in the NFL, and connect those women with people currently in leadership roles. Speakers include Roger Goodell, coaches, GMs, and other owners like Kim Pegula and Dee Haslam. McCaskey stopped in to listen and learn, despite not being slated to talk.
The Bears also have several women in high-ranking positions within the organization. Karen Murphy acts as the team’s CFO and Tanesha Wade is the team’s senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion. Wade and vice president of player engagement LaMar Campbell were each included in the organization’s recent GM and head coach search to ensure the process was as inclusive as possible, too.
The Bears have long been supporters of the league’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. In 2006, Lovie Smith became the first Black head coach to reach the Super Bowl. In 2018, the team formed a social justice committee focused on education, criminal justice reform and community-police relations. Further, McCaskey has tried to foster an environment where players feel comfortable to voice their concerns about the community, and ways in which they believe they can help.
When the issues of systematic racism came to the forefront of the country following the murder of George Floyd and shooting of Jacob Blake, the Bears were one of several NFL teams to cancel practices, and McCaskey ensured he would support the players.
"I hope the players know that they're in an environment here where they will be supported, and we've told them that whatever they decide to do, we will support them," McCaskey said via ChicagoBears.com. "I'm very impressed that for a lot of guys it's more than the symbolism of taking a knee. It's concrete action to make the positive change in our community. If they feel more encouraged now to speak out, we welcome that."
According to the team, players have raised nearly $1.5 million for social justice causes in the five years since the committee was formed.