The Miami Marlins and Major League Baseball announced today that Kim Ng, a longtime baseball executive, will become the team's new general manager.
Ng has extensive, high-level experience. She's worked in baseball for more than 30 years. As MLB's senior vice president of baseball operations for the past nine years, she was the highest-ranking woman in baseball. As assistant general manager for the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, she earned three World Series rings and her teams made postseason appearances on eight different occasions.
Now she's the first female GM in Major League history.
"On behalf of principal owner Bruce Sherman and our entire ownership group," said Marlins CEO Derek Jeter in a statement, "we look forward to Kim bringing a wealth of knowledge and championship-level experience to the Miami Marlins. Her leadership of our baseball operations team will play a major role on our path toward sustained success. Additionally, her extensive work in expanding youth baseball and softball initiatives will enhance our efforts to grow the game among our local youth as we continue to make a positive impact on the South Florida community."
Don't get me wrong. Hers is not only an incredible achievement, it is -- Jeter's buzzwords and corporate-speak aside -- clearly well-deserved.
In fact, she might be the most overqualified first-time GM in baseball history.
The problem is the word "first."
Ng is not just the first female GM. As the surrounding buzz makes clear, she's also the first Asian American GM. (Here's an example: Breakthrough for Women: Miami Marlins Hire Kim Ng as GM.)
And clearly that matters. Without "firsts," there is no "second" or "third." Without Jackie Robinson, there is no player diversity in MLB. Without George Taliaferro, there is no player diversity in the NFL. Without Earl Lloyd, there is no player diversity in the NBA.
Everything starts somewhere.
Looking back, though, it's indefensible Black players weren't allowed to play professional sports before it actually happened. More to the point, it's indefensible that Black players were not allowed to play from the start.
Ng is the first female GM. Jen Welter was the first female NFL coach. Becky Hammon was the first female NBA coach. But hirings like those should have occurred long before they did. They are not, nor were not, the first qualified women. Ng apparently interviewed for four GM positions before finally being hired by the Marlins.
They were simply the first to be recognized as such.
Besides, "first (this)" or "first (that)" reveals a broader problem. Genuine diversity is transparent. It goes unremarked and unnoticed.
When hiring the best candidate means simply that the best candidate was hired -- when gender or race or other irrelevant factors go unmentioned -- that's when inclusion truly exists.
Margaret Thatcher once said, "Being powerful is like being a lady; if you have tell people you are, you aren't."
If you have to tell people your company or industry is inclusive, if you have to tell people it embraces diversity, then it doesn't.
Because if you truly are inclusive, you wouldn't even think to mention it.
As a small-business owner, that's your goal.