Sources: Suns CEO addresses staff concerns on call

Sources: Suns CEO addresses staff concerns on call

During an all-employee call Wednesday afternoon, which came just hours after majority owner Robert Sarver announced he would sell the Phoenix Suns, the president and CEO of the team, Jason Rowley, answered questions from team staff about the future of the organization; whether there would be penalties for specific franchise executives who were deemed guilty of a series of years of workplace misconduct; and whether the team would acknowledge any specific allegations after publicly siding with Sarver when those allegations first surfaced, team sources told ESPN.

Rowley noted that Sam Garvin, a minority owner who was originally part of the ownership group that Sarver led to buy the team in 2004, would remain as the team’s interim governor early in the sale process. giving control of all management decisions to the organization, these sources said. Rowley also said that Sarver, under the terms of the NBA’s recent one-year suspension, would not have any interaction or connection with anyone in the organization, and would not attend games, visit the center of team training or workplace.

Sarver was suspended for a year and fined $10 million last week after an NBA investigation found he used the N-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others”.

Sarver has also been implicated in “cases of unfair conduct toward female employees,” including “gender-related comments” and inappropriate comments about employee appearance, the NBA said in its statement.

Rowley told staff it was important for the organization to ‘acknowledge some missteps’ it has made in the past, and he apologized to any current or former staff who have lived there “an unpleasant experience”.

“Leadership starts at the top,” he added, in part.

Sarver’s impending absence provided the team with “clarity” and that questions about Sarver’s role going forward – “the elephant in the room” – were behind the team, Rowley said.

But Rowley also answered pointed staff questions that had already been submitted by the team’s human resources department. The first question was whether there would be any penalties for the leaders of the organization whom some staff considered guilty of contributing to years of misconduct in the workplace.

Rowley, who has been with the Suns organization since 2007-08, said there are items – without specifically naming them – in the NBA investigation report that the team will review and that it would take “corrective action” if necessary.

Rowley asked about the steps the organization was taking to ensure it had more women, people of color, and women of color in specific leadership positions. Rowley cited the organization’s recent efforts and said they hired a “diversity, equity and inclusion leader” who would help further.

Rowley also responded to a question, reportedly submitted by several staff members, about why the organization did not specifically respond to the allegations after quickly standing by Sarver when the allegations were noted. for the first time.

Rowley referenced the team’s soon-to-be-released statement, which was shared with staff before being made public. He also mentioned that he, a member of the management team, was speaking to them on Wednesday that past incidents had occurred that “were not in line with our values” and that the team needed to take action to correct them. .

The NBA commissioned its investigation following an ESPN article in November 2021 detailing allegations of racism and misogyny during Sarver’s 17 years as owner.

In that story, several current and former employees spoke to ESPN about the conduct of other members of the Suns’ leadership team that they believe contributed to a toxic and sometimes hostile work environment. Although none said Sarver was involved in these incidents, many felt that Sarver’s own conduct contributed to a culture that affected how certain other managers within the organization treated their employees.

On Wednesday, several current and former staff members called for accountability from some leaders.

A member of staff who took part in the survey said: “I am relieved, I am more than happy, I have the power and I am motivated to continue to ensure that all the men in this organization still in power that sustained this culture be eradicated.”

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