By Octavio Jacobo*
Drive for Internal Diversity to Draw Customers and Growth from the Diverse Demographics
The US Golf industry is challenged by the fundamental necessity, and faced by the opportunity to morph and quickly catch up with the realities of increasing diversity in the country, to make golf more welcoming and more relevant to minorities, and to run the business in a manner conductive to make this a reality.
To make golf more welcoming and more relevant to minorities and to operate in a manner conductive to make this a reality, the US Golf industry is challenged by the fundamental necessity, and faced by the opportunity to morph and quickly catch up with the realities of increasing diversity in the country.
With a workforce representative of the communities the industry serves and of the demographics targeted for development, diversity and inclusion are key drivers of creativity, innovation and invention to reach out and to grow diverse market segments.
The golf industry finds itself behind the demographic evolution and realities of the country. It must quickly develop a representational leadership, workforce and membership to do away of the entrenched visions, attitudes and approaches that have historically precluded the diversification.
In an internal strategic analysis and planning process, the organizations should look at the proportion of the population of the diverse groups in the communities served, and the intended market representation to attain, to then set the goals to mirror that representative distribution.
The first focus should be on the players and customer facing functions; however, a successful and permanent strategy requires this diversification to happen among the operations and most importantly, the leadership and management.
Although I am aware of the lack of inclusivity as a historical short coming of the golf industry and golf in the United States; given my personal experience as a Latino immigrant, Hispanic Marketing professional and a South Florida golfer; and having followed years of golf industry’s discussions around the development of minority markets, I naively assumed that diversity was well recognized and already being addressed. Most importantly, I believed that diversity was a minor issue to be just mentioned in a comprehensive minority players development strategy.
Within the welcomed and fresh approach of the golf industry - led by the PGA’s Golf 2.0 strategic initiative
- to commit and to take comprehensive action on the engagement and development of new players, with focus on minorities; I was recently faced with the eye-opening experience of attending a gathering of the golf industry leadership.
In a room packed with maybe five hundred golf leaders, there were only 3 African-Americans, less than a dozen females and about 4 Hispanics, including myself. The rest of the attendance could have very well been copies of each other: white males.
As the topics of this gathering were around development initiatives for minority segments of golf clientele, one of the event’s speakers - who happened to be foreigner - intelligently observed: " look at the lack of diversity of this room compared to the diversity of the U.S., and you can easily recognize one of the challenges of the US Golf Industry.
Exploring the historic background of golf’s lack of diversity, in his article posted in The Inclusion Paradox Blog: Golf Mythology: What the “Gentlemen’s Game” Tells Us about European American Culture
(Part 2: Afternoon Shadows),
- Andres T. Tapia said “ … golf … has its demons, and they are mostly about exclusion. Few recreational hobbies in the US exemplify historical exclusion as much as the golf country club.
” Mr. Tapia also states that “ The role of golf culture in many organizations is a true barrier to full inclusion. While often unintended, the effect is that it reinforces structures that keep ceilings in place.
In the pursuit “ to make golf more welcoming and more relevant to women and minorities
” and “ to change the way we run our business to make that a reality
” (PGA) the US Golf industry is challenged by the fundamental and urgent necessity, and faced by the opportunity to morph and quickly catch up with the realities of increasing diversity in the country.
As the industry sets off taking comprehensive actions toward the development of players among diverse - and up to today under-attended segments of the population, including Hispanics, women and youngsters (segments that are not necessarily mutually exclusive), diversity and inclusion are key drivers of creativity, innovation and invention to reach out and to grow these market segments, based on the foundation of a workforce representative of the communities the industry serves, and of the demographics targeted for development.
For the golf player base to become increasingly diverse and significantly larger, it is necessary to work on gaining allegiances from all segments of the population. As such, the golf industry must be representative of the country’s rich diversity of culture, people and ideas; learning, understanding and connecting with the cultures in which it intends to work.
With golf being a very traditional, white, male dominated industry; and as a result, having a decreasing player base concentrated around a similar demographic profile, it is necessary for all and each member of the industry interested and committed to the player-base diversification and growth, to take a top-to-bottom review - from the board of directors down to the upper management and staff, and from the teaching and customer facing functions to the operations - to speedily develop a structure and membership representative of the country’s, the regions’, the metro-areas’, the neighborhoods’ and the targeted players’ demographic diversity.
J. Palomarez, President and CEO of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)
was quoted by Hispanic Business Magazine
: “ It is about gaining insights from your executives, from your suppliers, from your directors that are relevant to the world as it is today – and more importantly - how it will be tomorrow
” (Larsen, 2011)
As the golf industry finds itself behind of the demographic evolution and realities of the country, it must quickly develop a representational leadership, workforce and membership to do away of the entrenched visions, attitudes and approaches that have historically precluded the diversification of the player-base, and that without a doubt, will hinder any effort to draw customers and growth from the diverse demographics.
Diversity and inclusion are key drivers of much needed creativity and innovation; where each member and employee brings unique and valuable skills, perspectives and experiences; organizations should aggressively cast a net in search for talent, members, suppliers, etc., from all segments of the communities served and targeted, making diversity a competitive advantage
The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR)
provides the following perspective: “ To ensure the continued support and patronage of the Hispanic community, a company should strive to employ Hispanics, contract with Hispanic-owned businesses, support Hispanic-serving organizations and utilize Hispanic talent to lead its operations in roughly the same proportion that Hispanic consumers support the company
.” (Larsen, 2011)
In an internal strategic analysis and planning process, the organizations should look at the proportion of the population of the diverse groups in the communities served, and of the intended market representation to attain, to then set the goals and initiatives to achieve emulating that distribution internally. The first focus should be on the functions facing the players and customer; however, a successful and permanent strategy requires for this diversification to happen among the operations, and most importantly, the leadership and management.
In the American Marketscape DataStreamTM
Executive Summary, provided by the Market Intelligence firm Geoscape
) during their “2011 American Mainstream Summit” (Figure 1), the Corporate Diversity Model
presented is composed of three concentric circles, centered around the highlighted Product Development Staff
which is inside of the Employee & Supplier Pool
- the internal and external organization, linked to the external
Customer Target Pool
by four internal connecting functions: Marketing, Sales, Human Resources (HR) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Geoscape’s model states:
• Diversity at the core, beginning with product development
• Recruitment for all touch-points reflecting the customer base
• Diverse human resources and supplier pool strategic to long-term leadership
This is a simple and comprehensive model that easily translates and applies to any golf industry’s organization –association, tour, course operation, manufacturer, retailer, media, etc.- where the product to develop might be the golf offer adapted and presented in a manner that is relevant, inviting and significant to the cultural characteristics and realities of the targeted minority; just as the product can be golf equipment, retail channels, tours, media’s content, etc.
In the framework of Golf 2.0
, “the Product” would be: the game innovative formats, the community outreach and engagement platforms, the golf induction and teaching methods, the tools to “know your customer”, including engagement and retention; etc.
These products must be designed specifically for the targeted group. The Product Development Staff should be particularly knowledgeable, understanding and connected with the cultures in which it intends to work for, and for whom the “products” are designed and targeted.
Within itself, the organization should have a 360˚ properly diverse structure, conductive to the promotion and support of the diversity targeted product design, as well as the appropriate capabilities for effectively connecting at multiple touch-points with the Customer Target Pool.
Diversity should be a vital resource to better understand our diverse customers’ needs, to be able to offer to players, to prospective players and to communities: golf opportunities, experiences, conditions and benefits that are relevant, valuable and attractive to each particular segment and sub-segment.
To successfully draw customers and players, and to growth from the diverse demographics, any golf organization must drive very hard and fast for internal 360˚ diversity.
• American Marketscape DataStreamTM is a Trade Mark of Geoscape Inc.
• (PGA Magazine September 2011, Special Report: Golf 2.0)
• Larsen, R. (2011, 12). The Deep Horizon of Diversity. Hispanic Business , p. 32.
Originally posted by OctavioJacobo
on 08 Dec 2011.
All contributors: OctavioJacobo
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