Written by Jeremy Beale

Guest Speaker Sandy Cross Educates the Section About the Fundamentals of Diversity and Inclusion

FREDERICKSBURG, VA—“Diversity really represents all of the things that make us special and inclusion harnesses those differences and creates an environment of involvement, respect and connection where various backgrounds and richness of perspectives are harnessed to really create value,” Sandy Cross, PGA of America Head of Diversity and Inclusion said.

Cross spoke at the 2018 Middle Atlantic PGA Section Fall Membership Meeting about “The Fundamentals of Diversity and Inclusion.”  As she spoke to Golf Professionals, Golf Associates and industry leaders Cross provided an in-depth presentation about better understanding, recognizing and overcoming unconscious bias to help create a more inclusive game, business and workforce.

“There are organizations that are diverse, but that doesn’t mean they’re inclusive,” she said. “A lot of businesses will take the initiative to put diversity and inclusion in their mission statement but will believe that everyone knows they are welcome.”

As cross quoted a minority-majority misnomer from a census report, the numbers spoke volume to the potential future of the game.

According to a census study, 92 percent of the population growth has come from multicultural ethnic groups, with 4 and 10 Americans identifying as something other than non-Hispanic Caucasian. Those under the age of 24 are currently projected to be the last Caucasian majority group.

However, this projection does not align with the current census within the golf industry.

“Think about the Golf industry and the positive and negative assumptions that have been made by others outside the industry,” Cross said. “What assumptions are they making about the game or the industry [and] what assumption might we be making about others that aren’t a part of the game or industry? Do we assume that everyone outside the industry knows that they are welcome to play or work in golf.”

In 2015 an organization called Golf 2020 conducted a study about the 12 leading golf organizations, including the PGA of America. The study found more than 90 percent of their board, senior leadership and staff were respectively Caucasian.

“Golf is a game of invitation,” Cross said. We want individuals from different backgrounds playing and enjoying this game and having successful careers in this business. That is what is truly going to evolve and grow the success of this business and game.”

[A photo gallery of minorities within the game and business of golf.]

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While golf is an $84 Billion industry, non-Caucasian minority groups combined make up $3.5 trillion of this Nations spending power and Millennials make up 43 percent.

Cross said it is natural to be drawn to others that look like yourself, but when we ask ourselves why the pace of change in America, outpaces the rate of change in the golf industry—the answer leads to another question—”are we inviting multi-cultural individuals to be a part of the game.”

“As we look to overcome bias, we really have to become aware of the possibility that we have bias and allow ourselves to experience new possibilities and different perspectives,” Cross said.  “The goal is to examine different perspectives and really immerse ourselves in different environments.”

She said, we really need to evolve and disrupt the status quo. In turn, the PGA needs to embrace the idea of overt representation—“if you can see it you can be it.” The PGA also needs to cast out a wider net to find more diverse consumers, suppliers and workforce outside of the industry.

“We have the power as an organization, section and industry to disrupt the self-reinforcing vortex of sameness,” Cross said. “If we each invited difference into the game—just one individual of a different background […] that would be unbelievably powerful.”

According to Cross, businesses which provide multiple perspectives around the table with multiple backgrounds are going to be more innovative and more successful in every regard. She said everyone wants to be recognized as an individual, especially minorities. They want to be recognized and seen for who they are and all the richness that they bring.

She asked the audience to imagine the possibility of inviting various ethnicities, women, LGBTQ+, veterans, and people with disability into the game and business of golf. What would that look like?

“Don’t hesitate to reach out to multicultural organizations as they will be really happy that you offered the opportunity to make meaningful changes at your organization,” she said.“It is a really powerful way to signal that your facility is inclusive. When some of those diversified people, businesses or organizations earn that opportunity on their own merit, their interest in the game will grow.”

Cross also showed a video from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) about unconscious bias. The video explained living our lives with blind spots can put us in a self-deprecating tunnel of the same viewpoints, decisions and outcomes, ultimately leading to an unending cycle of snap judgments and misconceptions.

“Our choices have consequences and by accepting that these blind spots exist we can stop them,” PWC said. “Imagine the possibilities that exist if we could do it all over again—different perspectives, inclusive relationships, diverse networks and better outcomes. Seeing people for who they really are—people with unlimited potential.”

Cross asked that everyone try to put diversity and inclusion at the top of their agendas and find out if they are truly hitting the mark. She asked that they track milestones and micro-moments of inclusion to assist with creating sustainable change.“Diversity and inclusion can’t depend on any single person—you need to have buy-in from everyone.”

“There is a real power in creating a diverse and inclusive environment,” Cross said. “It is through innovation, anticipation and response to change that will ultimately lead to better financial outcomes.”

The Section hopes this presentation helped everyone in attendance learn how to capitalize on the business benefits of diversity and inclusion and will utilize the information to grow their facilities and help grow the game to look more like America.

Thank you Sandy Cross for coming to speak to our Section.