Mark Davis says Las Vegas Raiders are dealing with alleged cultural issues within the organization

Raiders owner Mark Davis said Thursday the team has investigated allegations of a hostile work environment within the organization’s front office and is making necessary changes.

Investigative reports, including a June 26 article in the Review-Journal about the Raiders’ work culture, raised issues that Davis said he and the team take seriously. Davis commented on those reports first published Thursday.

“The culture of this organization is so important to me,” Davis said. “Since the articles that have come out, not only in the New York Times, but in the RJ…I take them very seriously. So we did a survey of all of these things and we listened to the people who work in the organization and I think we started to make the changes needed to bring the culture back to where we think we can all be positive.

Part of those changes include the hiring of Sandra Douglass Morgan on Thursday as team president and Heather DeSanto as vice president of human resources. Both have extensive experience in the Las Vegas Valley.

Davis noted that Morgan, who was billed as the first black female team president in NFL history, will play an important role in reinvigorating the organization.

“She understands that it’s people first and that’s the kind of culture we’re going to build,” Davis said. “She’s looking forward to meeting everyone in the organization, one-on-one, to get to know them and get their feedback and start building that family culture again.”

DeSanto replaces former human resources director Jaime Stratton, who was fired in April. DeSanto is a longtime human resources professional, having most recently served as vice president of human resources at The Venetian.

The Review-Journal investigation found allegations of a hostile work environment from former employees, with some women alleging a troubling pattern of harassment, forced demotions and unequal treatment.

Last year, former human resources employee Nicole Adams filed a complaint against the Raiders with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Adams, who is black, accused the team in the complaint of discriminating against her because of her race and of retaliation against her after she reported concerns about pay disparity and unequal treatment.

“I think it’s a wonderful step that MD (Mark Davis) is taking to try to improve the image of the team, but hiring the first-ever black president doesn’t necessarily mean things are going to change.” , Adams said in a text message Thursday. “I just hope that the new president is the person who will really improve the culture of the team, and not just a figurehead put in place to calm them down.”

People who worked closely with Morgan said she was the right person for the job.

“If there are any issues, she will absolutely take care of them,” said Brin Gibson, current chairman of the State Gaming Control Board.

John Moran, former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, agreed: “She’s doing what’s right and she can fix whatever they need.”

Davis and the Raiders also had to deal with several high-ranking executives leaving the organization within 10 months. This included former president Marc Badain and former interim president Dan Ventrelle, who claimed they were fired in retaliation for alerting the NFL to problems at the Raiders’ workplace.

“We were starting to be more corporate in the organization where a title was more important than the person who held the title,” Davis said. “It got to the point where people could be replaceable. “We can get an SVP for that anywhere.” That was never the goal of the Raiders organization. It has always been about people first and family.

Davis said moving to Las Vegas during the height of the coronavirus pandemic played a role in the work environment, affecting those moving between Northern California and Southern Nevada. He also said the inability to work in an office environment immediately due to security measures was having an impact.

“We were never really able to start the Las Vegas Raiders with a culture that had momentum,” Davis said.

Morgan said she was well aware that there were reported issues within the Raiders organization when she was hired and was ready to address them immediately.

“When Mark and I first discussed this opportunity, I was honored and touched, but I also had a lot of questions,” Morgan said Thursday during his introductory press conference. “It’s no secret that this organization has faced recent challenges, but I want to be clear: I’m not here to sweep anything under the rug or avoid issues or concerns that need to be addressed. resolved.

“The fact is, I took on this role because I believe in the promise of the Raiders, I believe in the future of the Raiders and I believe in community, integrity and above all a commitment to excellence in this organization.”

Contact Mick Akers at [email protected] or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Writers Briana Erickson and Jim Barnes contributed to this report.

Aubrey L. Morgan