HBSE hires Gould as 1st chief diversity officer — will oversee $20M pledge to fight systemic racism

Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment — the parent company of the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia 76ers and the Prudential Center, among other global entities — continued its commitment to fight systemic racism and inequality Wednesday with the hiring of David Gould as its chief diversity and impact officer.

Gould, who joined the Sixers earlier this year as the executive director of the team’s youth foundation, will have plenty of opportunity. The organization announced earlier this year that it is committing $20 million to the fight. HBSE will donate $10 million over the next five years to the cities where it has teams. It also has donated $10 million to the NBA’s foundation to drive economic opportunity and empowerment in Black communities.

In his new role, Gould will lead HBSE’s internal and external diversity and inclusion standards, programs and initiatives across the organization, which additionally includes multiple esports properties, HBSE Real Estate, HBSE Ventures, the Sixers Innovation Lab and more.

“As a Black man, former college athlete and native Philadelphian, this work is deeply personal to me, and I believe that the sports and entertainment industry has an important role to play in the push for social and racial equality,” Gould said in a statement. “It’s an honor to be leading this new priority for HBSE and I am excited for the positive impact we will have for both our staff and communities.”

HBSE co-founders Josh Harris and David Blitzer said Gould will help the organization make change.

“This role is a vital addition to our organization,” they said in a statement. “We believe David’s leadership, passion and strategic mindset are incredibly valuable to our company and community members alike.

“This is an important step in our larger commitment toward equality and inclusion within our organization and in driving positive change in the communities we serve.”

Earlier this year, when it announced the $20 million initiative, HBSE outlined some of its possibilities for action, and Harris’ and Blitzer’s reasons.

The potential plans include:

  • Investing in Black communities: HBSE Real Estate’s Community Advancement Program will partner with Black developers, local community groups and officials, including a minimum $2.5 million donation to organizations and efforts to improve resident quality of life and further equitable development, as well as consistent capital commitments into real estate projects that advance community priorities in Black neighborhoods.
  • Supporting Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs: The Devils and 76ers will contribute more than $5 million in marketing assets to Black-owned businesses through a new “Buy Black Partnership Program,” and HBSE will increase expenditures with Black-owned businesses through a new Diversity Procurement Program.
  • Promoting education, health and employment: HBSE said it would commit $2.5 million through the Sixers Youth Foundation and Devils Care Foundation, working through their corporate responsibility programs, to support positive outcomes in Black communities, building on efforts to promote racial equity in Newark, Camden and Philadelphia. Efforts include the recent endowment of donations to the Newark Boys & Girls Club and the Urban League of Essex County, inspired by Devils defenseman P.K. Subban’s $50,000 contribution — matched by the NHL — to a GoFundMe campaign for Gionna Floyd, 6-year-old daughter of George Floyd.
  • Amplifying a workplace of respect, inclusion and diversity: HBSE aims to support Black and minority executives entering and rising in the sports and entertainment industry, as well as fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. The company will hire a chief diversity and impact officer, strengthen its Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and new Black Employee Resource Group, partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and focus on new recruitment, retention and career programs for minority employees.

HBSE CEO Scott O’Neil said Gould already has proven to be the right person for the new job.

“David Gould is an action-oriented, authentic leader with an outward mindset and the capacity to be an inspiring force for change,” he said. “It is an honor to appoint him to the first-ever role of HBSE’s chief diversity and impact officer.

“David’s leadership and guidance played a critical role in shaping HBSE’s and founders Josh Harris and David Blitzer’s $20 million commitment and action plan to address racial equity in the communities where we live, work and play. He brings a depth of experience in building platforms that drive advancement for Black entrepreneurs and communities, in both the private sector and with the city of Philadelphia; his perspective will be critical as we grow as an organization and community in empathy, respect and with racial equality in mind.

“With David’s engagement and passion, I am confident our organization, industry and community will rise together to celebrate diversity and equality and move toward action.”

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