In October 2020, Prince Lobel attorneys Walter Prince and Daniel Tarlow were engaged to conduct an investigation for USA Weightlifting, the National Governing Body for Olympic Weightlifting. The investigation looked into certain allegations of race discrimination and retaliation in the sport, and more broadly at USA Weightlifting’s policies, procedures, and climate. Walter and Dan collaborated with Bruce Melton of Aequitask LLC in conducting a comprehensive investigation, involving interviews with 46 witnesses from all corners of the sport. USA Weightlifting committed at the outset to make the investigation team’s full report public, and did so on April 8.
“We were privileged to be asked by USA Weightlifting to conduct such a vital and timely investigation,” Walter Prince said. “The many athletes, coaches, administrators, and officials we interviewed were an incredible group of people, absolutely dedicated to their sport, gave willingly of their time to educate us about weightlifting and its history, and are committed to seeing the sport continue to be even more diverse, equitable and inclusive.”
The full release:
USA Weightlifting Strengthens Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
April 08, 2021, 4:30 p.m. (ET)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (April 8, 2021) — USA Weightlifting is taking immediate action to further strengthen its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) after an independent investigation revealed new areas of growth and improvement for the organization in the DE&I space, while highlighting areas of good practice that already exist.
Prince Lobel Tye LLP of Boston, Massachusetts, released the results today of its investigation that also found there was “no pattern of race discrimination and retaliation” within USA Weightlifting.
The investigators’ final report is provided here to the public in its entirety.
Last year USA Weightlifting engaged Prince Lobel Tye LLP to investigate certain allegations of race discrimination and retaliation as well as the organization’s climate, policies, and procedures.
Through its interviews with 46 witnesses, investigators found an “articulate, direct, cooperative and caring” Weightlifting community committed to the principles of clean sport, transparency, objectivity and non-discrimination. The report also detailed actions USA Weightlifting has already taken including codifying gender parity on the Board of Directors in the bylaws, establishing our new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Hub, and launching a number of scholarships and programs to encourage broader participation in the sport.
“We are pleased to see a recognition of the progress made so far in our community, but our work is not done,” USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews said. “We welcome any and all feedback from non-majority groups as we embrace these recommendations and continue working on creating a Weightlifting community that is welcome to all.”
The Prince Lobel Tye report outlined 28 further areas where USA Weightlifting can leverage its position as a leader in sport to lead a community that is more diverse, equitable and inclusive while addressing the divide on how to carry out our shared ideals.
USA Weightlifting is taking the following immediate action based on the recommendations contained in the Prince Lobel Tye report:
- Placing diverse coaches at national level camps and instructor roles. Express interest here.
- Beginning with 2021 Nationals Week in Detroit, we will organize diversity social events at national competitions for solidarity and community building.
- Re-film training videos to better reflect our values and membership population.
- Engage with Vestry Laight for further analysis of the organization and our culture.
Furthermore, we will work to address all of the recommendations outlined in the report. USA Weightlifting is committed to strengthening its role as a steward of an inclusive Weightlifting community. Track our progress here.
“I am grateful that members of our community shared their candid and insightful perspectives. You have been heard by us and you are appreciated,” Andrews said.
Investigators suggested structural improvements to USA Weightlifting in seven categories: Visibility and Participation; Community; Communications; Transparency; Information Gathering; Governance; and Complaint and Resolution Procedures, which will be reviewed and acted upon as appropriate.
Recommendations laid out by Prince Lobel Tye follow a 2020 audit by The Inclusion Playbook that identified areas of improvement in the diversity, equity & inclusion space. Of the 35 recommendations made, USA Weightlifting has completed 31, including new anti-discrimination policies, updated DE&I training and developing a best practice Athlete Protest Policy. You can track our progress here.
Vestry Laight Role
To advance USA Weightlifting’s commitment to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive community, we have engaged Vestry Laight, to further assess our culture, particularly with respect to gender and all other non-majority groups such as veterans, the LGBTQ+ community and members with disabilities. The firm has expertise in evaluating institutional culture and has extensive experience working with survivors of sexual abuse.
We recognize that your confidence in our actions drives our culture and we are committed to self-evaluation and continued evolution to ensure the sport is safe and supportive to athletes. We encourage anyone currently or previously affiliated with USAW to participate in this confidential review so that Vestry Laight can gain insights from a broad range of stakeholders and obtain an accurate picture of our culture. Please reach out to Sara Darehshori, Brande Stellings and Silda Palerm at firstname.lastname@example.org with any observations, suggestions, or concerns you may have. Your input is critical to ensuring Vestry Laight can provide productive recommendations for implementation. Interviewees’ identities will be kept strictly confidential and interviews can be conducted with a support person of your choosing or an athlete representative.
With your help, Vestry Laight will evaluate our existing culture and our past actions to determine how we can improve to ensure USAW is accessible, safe and welcoming to “Anyone, Anywhere.”