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Letter from the Editor: Here’s What Golf can Learn about Inclusion from Corporate America

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Letter from the Editor: Here’s What Golf can Learn about Inclusion from Corporate America

Learnings from leaders in diversity
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Written By:

Ashleigh McLaughlin

Ashleigh is the Managing Director of the LPGA Women's Network. She's a former collegiate golfer with a degree in Marketing and Communications from Florida State University. When she's not crafting content, you can find her doing the Cupid Shuffle at an LPGA*USGA Girls Golf clinic.

If you’re a lover of golf like myself, you want to see the sport introduced to any and everyone willing to give it a try. However, we’re in the midst of a time where women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, individuals with disabilities, and other marginalized groups are making headway on inclusion in just about every arena, golf sadly still struggles to create a landscape where members of these groups feel comfortable in this space.

Imagine if we could turn the tides and get it right in golf – a sport slow to cultural change and widely viewed as an “old boys club,” exclusionary to only the economically elite.

What would that look like? And what can you or I do to help inspire that change?

I got a closer look at what that change might look like thanks to the SOAR Diversity and Inclusion Summit hosted by Dow back in July.

I sat in a room filled with nearly 200 business leaders and listened to speakers who have been on the front lines of inspiring cultural change through politics, sports, and business.

Here were my biggest takeaways:

“Diversity is not a zero-sum game, and it doesn’t shrink the size of the pie.”
– Former Attorney General Eric Holder

 

Like in any business, increasing the demand for golf will organically translate into more opportunities for us all to enjoy the game. So, part of the conversations we have around the topic of diversity needs to include helping traditionalists understand that more for others, doesn’t mean less for them.

 

“We need to be more inclusive to be competitive…We need to create an inclusive culture where every person is heard and respected, where every person feels valued and is valued, where every person feels they belong and not just tolerated.”
– Karen S. Carter, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Dow

 

Diversity is about intentionally inviting a wider representation of people to the party and inclusion is asking them to dance. But what we’re truly after at the end of the day is belonging. It’s not enough to invite more people to learn the game. The golf industry has a responsibility to create an environment that makes them feel welcomed.

 

“There’s nothing more important for a leader than cultivating the right culture.”
– Jim Fitterling, CEO for Dow

 

Dow CEO Jim Fitterling’s decision to come out at work not only gave him the space to bring his full self to work every day, but inspired his employees to do the same. Creating a culture of inclusivity starts at the top of the ladder, and the businesses who can get this right, as a result, create a space that fosters more innovation.

 

“You have to identify your hot button issues that you won’t back down on and dig your heels in and fight.”
– Muffet McGraw, Head Women’s Basketball Coach for Notre Dame

 

If you haven’t seen Coach McGraw’s viral interview about gender equality, do yourself a favor and give it a watch.

 

It’s not enough to sit with our opinions about inclusivity. Certain occasions call for confronting those with biases head-on. Identify what your line in the sand is and seek out advocates willing to join the cause with you.

Perhaps what summed up the intention of the event best were Karen S. Carter’s closing words: “It’s not good enough to leave the world the way you found it.” And she’s right. Those of us lucky enough to play this game have a responsibility to do our part in helping foster an environment that will help bring others in.

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