Staci Slaughter is the Executive Vice President Of Communications & Senior Advisor to the CEO of the San Francisco Giants. At the time she started working for the Giants, she was the first woman to hold that position in Major League Baseball.
“My boss, who was the Mayor at the time, got voted out of office so it was a turning point in my career. Fortunately for me the Giants were about to embark on a political campaign to build the ballpark and they needed a political communications person, so they hired me for a three-month job that has actually turned into a 24 year career.
It was a little daunting at first. Not just that I was the only female in MLB working in this area, but that I was taking on a department that had been traditionally run by men. And it had been traditionally run by men who had extensive baseball knowledge. I was also a pretty young mother at the time. I had a two-year-old and a newborn. I started this new position right after I finished my maternity leave with my second son. So life was chaotic at home.
Initially there was some skepticism, people saying, “What does she know about baseball?” But I think one of the reasons I was embraced is that I’ve never been a person to try to fake it. I’m going to be very clear about what I don’t know and to lean heavily on experts. I wasn’t an expert on how we could improve our bullpen, but what I could do was listen. I think that’s what made me very good at my job early on was that I could listen to key points our GM or managers were making and I could use that for the basis of our operation. Being a good listener was key, but there was definitely skepticism from our baseball operations. They hadn’t worked with me and didn’t know me all that well. And then going out into the baseball industry there was nobody, no women.
I remember going to the first Baseball Winter Meeting, which is literally a bunch of dudes with their golf shirts with the team logo on it sitting in meetings. I was one of the few women there, having my first P.R. meeting with all the people who had my job from each team. They must have thought I was a complete alien because they’re talking baseball statistics and I’m saying, “How do we communicate directly with fans? How do we used the Internet and websites to deliver a message?”
One of the greatest compliments I received was right after that initial meeting, where I was speaking up and I had lots of opinions. I got a call from one of the oldest P.R. guys in the game and he said, ‘Listen I’m retiring. I’m going to move into a new position. I love that fact that the Giants have gone outside of the industry to hire somebody who has a completely different perspective on baseball and we want to do the same thing on our team.’ And so they went and hired the second female executive who is, to this day, one my dearest friends in the industry. You’re now seeing that more and more in the game, where teams are hiring people with different perspectives, particularly females. Because we have a lot of the same, but what we need is different.
Some of my proudest moments are helping to start our Women’s Affinity Group that provides mentorship opportunities. My other proudest moment is when I got pregnant with my first son, we didn’t have a maternity leave policy. You either took vacation or sick time. I went in to the General Manager’s office and gave him examples of other maternity policies and said “We need to have a maternity policy.” Now we have one of the most generous maternity and paternity leave programs around, which so many men and women have benefited from. They were like, “Of course we should have a maternity leave policy. No one ever brought it up before.” Well of course, they’d only hired men before who hadn’t really thought about that. Now we have lactation rooms … It’s so different than it was.
I feel like for an organization to evolve you’ve got to speak up and speak your mind. Baseball still has a long way to go, but at the Giants it’s gotten a lot better. We’re in a whole generational shift and it’s coming to a head at these organizations. We need to start thinking about our next generations of leaders.”
Staci lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons. Her sons hope she never quits her job. Follow the Giants at @SFGiants.