Editor’s note: Richard Lapchick is a human rights activist, pioneer for racial equality, expert on sports issues, scholar and author.

The 2023 MLB Racial and Gender Report Card released Thursday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida shows MLB received a B for racial hiring practices, a C for gender hiring practices and an overall grade of C+.

The 2023 MLB report card shows the path paved by Jackie Robinson and others continues to become a reality for players of color. But still, it remains far short of Robinson’s goal.

The lack of African American players continues to be a glaring issue. At 6.2%, this is the lowest percentage of African American players recorded in the report card since 1991. This was a decline from the 7.2% on Opening Day 2022. It is the second consecutive year that a new record low has been set.

The 83.3% for racial hiring practices represented an increase from 83.0% in the 2022 report card. MLB’s 74.5% for gender hiring practices was a decrease, from 75.3% in 2022. The overall grade of C+ resulted from 78.9%, a slight decrease from 79.1% in the 2022 MLB report card.

The overall diversity of MLB rosters remains strong with 40.5% being players of color. This is a 2.5 percentage point increase from 2022. The largest group of players represented is Latinos at 30.2%. While acknowledging the issue of so few African American players, MLB points to signs of hope for the future. In the 2022 MLB draft, Black or African American players made up four of the first five selections for the first time in draft history. Notably all four players were alumni of the DREAM series, a diversity focused development program offered by MLB and USA Baseball. In addition, nine players in the first round were African American, the most by total and percentage since 1992 when 10 of the 28 first-round selections were African American. Overall, 12 in the opening round were Black or Latino. The 2023 MLB draft is July 9-11 in Seattle.

Baseball’s league office received a B+ for racial hiring, with people of color making up 30.0% of the total professional staff. It received a C+ for gender hiring, as women comprised 30.1% of the total professional staff. There were 29 people of color and 34 women in positions of vice president or higher.

Since Lapchick began publishing the report cards in 1988, there have been different grading scale for race and gender. Those grading scales have been set according to racial and gender percentages of the population according to the most recent U.S. Census data. The first report card, for instance, showed people of color comprised about 24% of the U.S. population — thus, an A grade was given if a sport had 24% of its positions held by people of color. Starting with the 2022 report cards, TIDES has used 2020 Census data to determine the percentages and respective grade scales for race and gender.

The most scrutinized positions in pro sports, including MLB, are manager and general manager or president of baseball operations. The 2023 MLB season began with six managers of color, representing 20% of all managers. This includes four Latino managers, one African American manager and one manager of two or more races (African American and Asian). There were four (13.3%) people of color holding the position of either general manager, president of baseball operations or the equivalent for an MLB club.

Using data as of March 24, 2023, TIDES conducted an analysis of the breakdown of MLB players, managers and coaches. In addition, this MLB report card includes a racial and gender breakdown of owners, MLB’s league office and MLB clubs. Listings of majority owners, general managers and team managers were updated as of the start of the 2023 season.

One of Robinson’s most famous quotes was: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” His life did — and continues to — have an impact. In MLB, he wanted to be sure Black people played on an equal playing field and that they also led the team in the front office and as managers. The 2023 report card shows that baseball has improved in some areas but must improve across all categories and hasten the pace of change.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said Robinson breaking the color barrier and MLB’s role in helping open the doors of opportunity in professional sports highlights how inclusion is winning in hiring practices, management and ownership.

“We applaud and salute their progress,” Jackson said, “and continue to encourage even more engagement of women and people of color in positions of power, decision-making roles, executive status, management and coaching. It is my hope to work even closer with the commissioner and the league to help maximize this impact, because the game is better when we can all participate and KEEP HOPE ALIVE in our national pastime!”

Notably, MLB has many innovative diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives introduced throughout the league this year. As the league continues to become more diverse among playing ranks, I look forward to seeing more people of color and women in key positions. This year that has been a significant increase in women in front offices. The current trajectory of inclusive efforts by the MLB front office leads me to believe the future of the MLB is promising.

Among other highlights in the 2023 report card:

• A total of 269 players represented 19 different countries and territories outside the United States on 2023 Opening Day rosters and inactive lists. This marked the third-most all time on Opening Day rosters, behind only 2020 (291), with expanded 30-man active rosters and 2022 (275).

• MLB continues to be innovative in its inclusion initiatives. The MLBPA and Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. jointly announced the launch of the inaugural “HBCU Swingman Classic,” an annual All-Star experience for baseball student-athletes from Division I programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The philanthropic and educational event, which will center on an “All-Star” Game, will be held during 2023 MLB All-Star Week in July at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. The HBCU Swingman Classic, which will be powered by the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, will highlight the history and legacy of HBCU baseball programs and provide 50 HBCU baseball players with the opportunity to showcase their talent on a national stage.

• The commissioner’s office has continued to implement diversity initiatives, including MLB University, the most advanced professional baseball operations curriculum in existence. The Diversity Pipeline Program, which identifies, develops and cultivates the pool of qualified minority and female candidates for on-field and baseball operations positions; and the MLB Diversity Fellowship, which provides the opportunity for diverse professionals to work in business operations in the front office. The Diversity Pipeline Scout Development Program is held during the Arizona fall league in October, providing hands-on experience for persons of color and women to pursue a career in scouting and player evaluation.

• As of Jan. 1, 2023, the percentage of people of color holding coaching positions was 31%, down from 38.3% in 2022. This included 9.9% African American coaches, 19.2% Latino(a)s coaches, 1.6% Asian coaches and 0.3% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander coaches.

• At the start of the 2023 season, there was a record 19 women who held on-field coaching or player development roles. Ten of the 19 are alumni of MLB’s “Take the Field” initiative. Rachel Balkovec was hired in 2022 as manager of the New York Yankee’s Class A Tampa Tarpons. She was the first woman to be named a manager in affiliated baseball. Ronnie Gajownik (Hillsboro Hops) will become the second woman to manage a minor league affiliated franchise in 2023. As of the start of the 2023 season, there were 43 women who held some level of coaching role at the major or minor league level, an increase of 10 from 33 in 2022.

• Of all MLB league office employees at the director and managerial level, people of color represented 25.7% as of Jan. 1, 2023. Women held 27.8% of these roles.

“It is my hope that these findings motivate those on the baseball diamond, in the front office, the boardroom and beyond, to continue to work towards progress,” said Danette Leighton, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “Together, we can build a future where women in all sports can lead and thrive without barriers.”

Of the 40 majority team owners across MLB, 39 were white (97.5%). Arturo Moreno of the Los Angeles Angels is the only Hispanic or Latino(a)s majority owner in U.S. professional sports. He has owned the team since 2003. This means no new majority owners in 20 years!

“In today’s world, the importance of diversity has been proven, and I have personally witnessed its impact,” said Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. “Many businesses and individuals are now dedicated to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion. … These organizations, along with others across the country, are advocating for diversity, fairness, and equity.”

This is a deeper look at MLB clubs as of Jan. 1, 2023:

• People of color held 17.2% of team vice president positions, increasing from last year’s 16.1%. This included 6.1% African American, 6.4% Latino(a)s and 3.5% Asian. White employees held 81.3% of vice president roles, a decrease from 82.8% in 2021.

• Women held 19.0% of all team vice president positions, which was an increase of 0.7 percentage points from 18.3% in 2022. However, it is a serious underrepresentation.

• People of color held 21.1% of team senior administration positions, a 1.3 percentage point increase from 2021. African Americans held 5.6%, Latino(a)s 10.4% and Asians 3.1%. All other people of color represented 1.9%.

• Women held 27.4% of team senior administration positions, a 0.9 percentage point decrease from 2021. Women remain seriously underrepresented.

• The percentage of people of color in team professional administration positions was 30.3%, which included 7.3% African American, 15.9% Latino(a)s, 4.9% Asian and 2.2% of two or more races. This mark of 30.3% was an increase of 5.7 percentage points from last year and is the highest percentage in MLB report card history in this category. White employees held 61.2% of team professional administration positions, down from 73.6% in 2022.

• Women held 29.0% of team professional administration positions, an increase from 26.9% in 2022. As in senior administrative positions, women remain seriously underrepresented as team professional administrators.

“The 2023 MLB RGRC reveals an organization in motion,” said Jeff O’Brien, CEO of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice. “While their current grades might suggest to some that MLB is not interested in diversity and inclusion, the commitment evidenced by the number of programs, engagements and initiatives that MLB is delivering to diversify the game suggest another story. An organization in motion understands where it is, and is actively working to embody a different, more diverse future for the game.”

I believe that commissioner Rob Manfred and Billy Bean, MLB’s senior vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and a senior adviser to Manfred, are committed to moving baseball into a leadership position among pro sports on DE&I issues. We will see how they do when we collect the data for the 2024 MLB report card.

Richard E. Lapchick is the director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida, the author of 17 books and the annual Racial and Gender Report Card, and the president of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice. He has been a regular commentator for ESPN.com on issues of diversity in sport. Follow him on Twitter @richardlapchick and on Facebook.