Marshall, NBA, CEO
Cynt Marshall became the CEO of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team and has worked on improving the team and franchise's diversity issues. (Photo Credit: ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Women’s History Month Profiles: Cynthia ‘Cynt’ Marshall, First Black Woman NBA CEO

Known best for: Becoming the CEO of the Dallas Mavericks — the first African American woman CEO in the NBA

During Women’s History Month, DiversityInc is honoring a series of woman innovators and history makers who are often overlooked in mainstream media coverage and history books. Check back throughout March to learn about more important figures.

Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall was born in Alabama, but her family moved to Richmond, California when her parents decided they did not want to raise their children in the Jim Crow South. Years after her family’s move, the 16th Street Baptist Church down the street from her former home was bombed in a racist attack.

Marshall grew up in relative poverty in Richmond, but despite the odds against her, attended UC Berkeley on a scholarship. She was offered scholarships to several colleges, but ultimately chose UC Berkeley because it was close to her home.

She recalled in a UC Berkeley alumni article in 2018 that she did not realize her family’s situation until much later. She said when she was at UC Berkeley, a dinner date dismissed her hometown as the projects — something she fiercely denied until her mother told her, “Yes, actually they are.” Marshall also grew up with an abusive father and recalled that her education was her refuge.

Marshall studied business administration with a focus on organizational behavior and human resources. She ended up working for AT&T (No. 1 on DiversityInc’s 2019 Top 50 Companies for Diversity) for 36 years, beginning as an operator in San Francisco. She served as president of AT&T in North Carolina, then the senior vice president of human resources, and ultimately the chief diversity officer of the global corporation.

In 2018, Marshall became the first African American woman working as a CEO of the NBA, but even before 2018, her life was full of firsts. During her time at UC Berkeley, she was the first Black cheerleader and only Black woman in her sorority. She was also the first Black person to serve as the chair of the North Carolina Chamber.

At the 2015 Berkeley’s Women’s Empowerment Day, Marshall recalled a time at her first job when a female boss told her she was “too ethnic” for wearing red high heels and styling her hair in braids. She said she went home, took out her braids and purchased neutral shoes, a decision later regretted. She told the audience in 2015 to be their true, authentic  and assertive selves.

Marshall’s career in diversity and inclusion continued even after her time at AT&T, when Dow Chemical Company (No. 37 on DiversityInc’s 2019 Top 50 Companies for Diversity) asked her to help pioneer an inclusion program. Dow’s diversity and inclusion practices evidently improved with Marshall’s leadership. In 2018, Dow landed the No. 50 spot on the Top 50, and in 2017 it did not appear at all.

In the wake of the 2018 publication of a scathing 46-page report that outlined a culture of sexual harassment against women at the Dallas Mavericks, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reached out to Marshall to ask her to become CEO and help transform the culture.

In her first 100 days of leadership, Marshall brought new women into leadership roles, established a complaint process, created an ethics hotline, implemented a code of conduct training for everyone and launched an internal advisory council.

In the 2018 UC Berkeley alumni piece, Marshall defined diversity and inclusion:

“Diversity is about numbers and representation. Inclusion is how to create a culture that’s welcoming.”

NBA franchises, which are worth, on average, nearly $3 billion. Most leaders are white men. See our breakdown of NBA team leadership diversity and franchise value HERE.

Latest News

Kaiser Permanente Mental Health App Now Available to Members at No Cost

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org.  myStrength app is part of Kaiser Permanente’s effort to provide valuable tools to support mental and emotional health, particularly during stressful times. As part of its commitment to offer members innovative ways to promote personal health and wellness, particularly during increasing levels of stress and anxiety,…

ADP Preparedness Toolkit

Originally posted on ADP LinkedIn Find FAQs, checklists, webcasts, and the resources to help you protect and manage your workforce in the ADP Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Employer Preparedness Toolkit: https://bit.ly/2xuM2jW

feinstein, northwell

Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes Teams Up with Sanofi, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Gilead Sciences to Test COVID-19 Treatments

The research arm of Northwell Health (No. 2 on DiversityInc’s 2019 Top Hospitals & Health Systems), the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, is partnering with Gilead Sciences, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi (No. 31 on DiversityInc’s 2019 Top 50 Companies for Diversity) to identify treatments for people hospitalized with moderate to severe…

EY Named a Leader in Managed Security Services and Professional Security Services in Asia-Pacific in Two Studies by IDC

Originally posted on EY.com EY is a leader in Asia-Pacific professional security services among 17 vendors EY has been recognized by IDC as a leader in two of its studies: IDC MarketScape: Asia/Pacific Managed Security Services 2020 Vendor Assessment, and IDC MarketScape: Asia/Pacific Professional Security Services – Advisory, Assessment, and Awareness 2020…

March 2020 ADP National Employment Report®, ADP Small Business Report® and ADP National Franchise Report® to be Released on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Originally posted on ADP.com : ADP Research Institute® will release the March findings of the ADP National Employment Report, ADP Small Business Report and ADP National Franchise Report on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 8:15 a.m. ET. Due to the important contribution that small businesses make to economic growth, ADP Research Institute issues the ADP Small Business Report independently of the ADP National Employment Report. …

Dow Commits $3 million to Aid COVID-19 Relief Efforts and Adjusts Manufacturing Processes to Produce Hand Sanitizer

Originally posted on Dow.com Dow announced a commitment of $3 million to help fund COVID-19 relief efforts with donations going towards global relief organizations, as well as non-profits in communities where Dow operates. In addition, the Company announced it has begun producing hand sanitizer at its manufacturing site in Stade, Germany, and…

EY COVID-19 Business Continuity Plan: Five Ways to Reshape

Originally posted on EY LinkedIn and  EY.com  EY Responding to COVID-19 COVID-19 is an unfolding event bringing uncertainty to every business. To help you navigate through these unprecedented times, here you’ll find the most relevant EY insights on responding to volatility and building enterprise resilience. Global companies have to be predictive…