Why the NBA joined the Lean In movement

The NBA teamed up with the Lean In Together initiative because it matches up well with the league's own efforts toward gender equality.

NEW YORK: The NBA teamed up with the Lean In Together initiative because it matches up well with the league’s own efforts toward gender equality.

"It fit in with our messages as well as our approach," said Kathy Behrens, president of social responsibility and player programs for the NBA.

Players and staff across the league "believe strongly in a diverse workforce and in the role that women play as athletes and in business," she added.

Behrens recalled the speech that Oklahoma City Thunder player Kevin Durant gave when accepting his Most Valuable Player award last year, thanking his mom for her work and sacrifice that paved the way for his success. "You the real MVP," he said in the speech.

The crucial role that women play in players’ lives is a sentiment many of them share, said Behrens.

"If [society is] going to reach equality, it can’t just be a fight that women take on – it’s got to be something that men support," she said.

Last week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Facebook COO and LeanIn.org founder Sheryl Sandberg talked about the initiative with ESPN’s Hannah Storm.

Last year, the NBA earned an A grade on The 2014 Racial and Gender Report Card from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida College of Business Administration. The Women’s NBA received an A+. Last season, 42 women held VP roles in the NBA league office, according to the report.

Six days since the campaign launched, the "#LeanInTogether: NBA & WNBA Stars Are In – Are You?" PSA featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, and Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry has nearly 300,000 views. Wade and Curry tweeted out the link, encouraging men to lean in, too.

Men who are more active partners and fathers at home can benefit from the effort, said LeanIn.org president Rachel Thomas. In the week since the campaign’s launch, Thomas said she has seen posts including fathers taking yoga with their daughters, changing diapers, and cooking with their sons, as well as women celebrating the men in their lives.

The partnership with the NBA and WNBA is beneficial because athletes "really loom large in the lives of all of us, particularly men and boys when they support – and when they Lean In – for equality," Thomas explained.

LeanIn.Org also offers tips for men on how they can Lean In, such as how to be a "50/50 partner."

"It’s about giving [men] practical, actionable steps they can take," Thomas said.

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