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Timbers and Thorns announce accountability, engagement, and equity initiatives

The action steps are the result of a months-long internal audit of the organization.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns announced today a series of initiatives and action steps focused around the areas of accountability, engagement, and equity.

According to the organization, these steps and initiatives are the result of a months-long full-scale internal audit, in which the club sought feedback from players, supporters, staff, and outside experts.

The audit itself was first spurred by the shocking revelations that broke in October of last year of alleged misconduct by then Thorns coach Paul Riley against then Thorns players Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly. After the news broke Timbers & Thorns owner Merritt Paulson penned an open letter promising positive structural change within the organization, as well as many of the action steps which have now been formally announced.

A statement from the organization states, “The plan will guide us now and, in the future, to ensure the utmost health, wellbeing, safety and respect for our players and everyone else associated with our clubs.”

According to the statement, the plan includes, “the creation of new full-time positions, mandatory trainings at all levels of the organization, new community initiatives, and engaging outside consultants to provide expertise in areas of need and opportunity.”

Highlights of the plan include the hiring of a Vice President of Community and Social Impact, who will oversee Stand Together initiatives and lead new diversity and outreach initiatives. The Timbers and Thorns will also be partnering with Workplace Change, a local BIPOC-owned firm to help assess the diversity, equity, and inclusion practices within the organization, and help guide future planning around those areas.

The clubs also announced that they will require all staff members who have regular contact with players to complete SafeSport training on a regular basis. The training itself will be focused on helping individuals identify, prevent, and respond to misconduct and abuse in sport.

In addition, the organization has created a new anonymous online reporting system for employees and Timbers and Thorns players to report HR issues. They have also created an online reporting system for supporters, where fans will be able to anonymously report incidents of discrimination or harassment.

“We hope the steps,” the statement concludes, “along with a renewed commitment to communication and transparency, can continue to make Providence Park a place where our players, our staff and our supporters can all unite in the process of celebrating soccer and improving the lives of all those in our soccer community, and beyond.”

You can read the statement and full list of initiatives and action steps here.