Merida has grown ESPN’s sports and pop culture website “The Undefeated” into a unique content studio to be reckoned with. Merida began reporting directly to president Jimmy Pitaro in March, and expanded The Undefeated in new directions, such as a “Hamilton The Musical” project for Disney+. Under Merida’s guidance The ESPN took in seven of ESPN’s eight NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards. He also oversaw “Year of the Black Quarterback,” a season-long digital series culminating with a one-hour TV special. He works hard to create opportunities for young minority journalists, such as through The Undefeated’s Rhoden Fellowship program, providing internships to journalism students from HBCUs. “As a leader, I have created opportunities where none exist. It’s important to show people you believe in them,” he says.
The conversation about racial injustice in 2020 has been… urgent, raw, needed. It has gone from the streets into every important institution in American life.
In what ways can companies best show a sincere commitment to diversity and inclusion?
Disrupt yourself. Be brave about changing your culture, your talent evaluation process, who you consider ready for promotion. Challenge convention, challenge whether you have normalized a prototype of success. And who does that look like?
How have you been a champion of diversity & inclusion in your professional life?
I have tried to see those who are often unseen, and help remove their invisibility. As a leader, I have created opportunities where none exist. It’s important to show people you believe in them. Instill confidence. Hire on potential, promote on potential. Be unafraid to risk something to lift others.