By Ryan Velez
The Dallas Mavericks front office is embroiled in recent accusations of s*xual misconduct, but in all of this, there may be one positive to take out of this. Owner Mark Cuban has appointed a Black woman, Cynthia Marshall as interim CEO of the Mavericks, and Black Enterprise recently had a chance to catch up with her and discuss her plans.
Meeting with the Mavericks for the first time this morning, she laid out a plan for the next month. It includes completing the internal investigation already launched by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban; personally meeting with each of the organization’s 141 employees; and formalizing a detailed process for transforming the organization’s dysfunctional culture and refining its operational effectiveness, with an emphasis on all systems and policies related to reporting and addressing employee complaints.
“We are committed to running a business of excellence,” said Marshall, in an exclusive phone interview with Black Enterprise. “Clearly we have work to do, and I walk in knowing that there’s a lot that I don’t know. But I do know how to lead, and how to effect necessary change in an organization.” She has inherited quite a challenge, but this is still a landmark moment for women in sports.
“Changing industries can be difficult under normal circumstances, but there will be a lot of people rooting for her and available to assist with the transition,” says Kathleen Francis, chair and president of Women in Sports and Events (WISE), the leading voice and resource for women in the business of sports. “It is a positive step to bring in someone with her experience and credentials. Adding women to the executive suite is always a good investment. That, coupled with the full support of ownership, will be critical to her success.”
So, in a time where all eyes are on her, why would Marshall rise to the challenge? For her, it’s a matter of personal commitment. “It infuriates me that we’re living in a time when people are being victimized in this way,” says Marshall. “I’m always talking about being mad and making a difference. When this call came, I thought, I can’t just sit on the sidelines. Instead of yelling at the TV, I’m being called into service. I’m doing this for the sisterhood, and because Mark Cuban is serious about changing the culture.”
She will be reporting to Cuban who, she says, joked that he will report to her. “His point was, if there’s something he needs to do differently, I need to let him know,” says Marshall. “Our goal is for the Dallas Mavericks organization to be a great place to work for everyone, a place of character where all individuals feel safe and feel good about going to work, and are held accountable for their actions.”