Inequality survives where tolerated

I like to watch the final rounds of the Masters as much as the next person. This weekend was no exception. But I think the time has come for responsible people and companies to stand together against sexism. Founded in 1933, Augusta National, the traditional venue of the Masters, still has a male-only mandate.

Actually up until 1990, Augusta had a white-guys-only mandate until social pressure moved them to admit their first black member in 1990. 1990!! 7 years later Tiger Woods made history as the first man of African-American heritage to win the championship at Augusta.

Traditionally each year the senior executives of the major corporate sponsors of the Masters are offered membership at Augusta. This year it so happens that one of the key sponsors–IBM–is headed by a woman, Ginny Rometty. Ms. Rometty was excluded from the invitation list extended to the other male executives.

When asked about the club’s official position at a press conference on the weekend, Augusta Chairman, Bill Payne, fumbled behind the privacy of their membership process to evade the question. It was embarrassing to watch. Here is the direct link.

Here is the thing. Exclusion based on sex should be just as intolerable as exclusion based on the color of one’s skin. If Augusta does not want to move into the 21st century on this antiquated policy then I think it calls for conscientious companies–and indeed the Masters tournament itself–to turn its back and funnel all of its event revenue away from Augusta to a more progressive venue.

I am sometimes asked why I think there are still so few women leading corporations or sitting in position of influence on corporate boards. I believe that the tolerance of a “boys-club” mentality is a major part of the hurdles to equality here. Those who disagree with policies of exclusion have to stand up. Tolerance of inequality helps to perpetrate it. The Masters and its corporate sponsors should tell Augusta they will no longer be a party to discrimination. Time to grow up a little.

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11 Responses to Inequality survives where tolerated

  1. Pingback: Inequality Survives Where Tolerated « Financial Survival Network

  2. Richard says:


    I’d like to start by saying that I am a regular reader of your blog and truly appreciate your views on the markets and the economy as a whole. I think you’re very knowledgable and one of the few truly responsible people in your industry. I prefer that you ‘tell it like it is’ as opposed to simply being a market cheerleader.

    Having said all that, I must respectfully disagree with the opinion expressed in this particular post.

    The Augusta Country Club is just that. A PRIVATE club and therefore they are free to dictate the rules and regulations of THEIR club in any way they see fit. They do not need permission or approval from the general public as to how they conduct their affairs. If the public does not support their decision, then they are free to not watch the tournament or support the sponsors of said tournament. That is their right. What is NOT their right is to force them to change.

    On the other hand, ‘public’ companies as you are well aware DO have to answer to more than just the members of their Boards and therefore I believe that they should have a representation that more accurately reflects society in general.

    This is actually more of a psychological issue in which some people can’t stand the feeling that they aren’t included in EVERYTHING. This is the reason why despite already having an organization devoted solely to girls and young women, the Boy Scouts organizations at ALL levels have been pressured to allow females into their membership. Why is it necessary? They already have their own organizations providing essentially the same thing. It’s simply because some people couldn’t stand the thought of being excluded from something.

    Then there is the double-standard in the fact that these same people would vehemently oppose boys being able to join the Girl Guides, etc. Fortunately for them, there is no effort made to do so as the other people simply don’t feel the overwhelming compulsion to be included in something that they don’t need to be.

    Danielle, if you truly believe that nobody should be excluded from anything, can we expect a future post in which you will be detailing about how you are organizing a rally to boycott all Spa Lady exercise locations. After all, they prohibit men from joining their “club”, so I assume that you feel that this too must be changed.

    Or does that fall under the double-standard where that’s okay?

  3. Richard, we are not talking about the right of private clubs to set their own rules. I am saying that a public spectacle as widely sponsored and watched as The Masters has a civil responsibility to exemplify equality and fairness in their business model.
    If it is no longer deemed socially tolerable to have the tournament hosted at a club that excludes people of colour today, than surely it should also be intolerable to have the tournament at a club that excludes half the population on the basis of sex.
    At the very least it is bad business. If Augusta does want the host job then its time for them to change this rule. If not, then its time for the Masters to find a new club.

  4. Tim says:

    Well put Richard …

  5. Stefan B says:

    Who but an imbecile wants to be part of an officially sexist organization? Who but a classless imbecile, prior to 1990, would want to claim membership in an officially racist organization?

    The problem goes away when the existing members of the organization would rather renounce their membership in a sexist/racist organization than risk being associated with it. Until THAT point, they have every right to a white boys club, and nobody should get their black panties in a knot about it. Private property, and the Freedom to assemble are exactly what they purport to be.

  6. alien caffeine says:

    Ah, Ms Danielle finally comes out of the closet…as a MAN-HATER. I knew it, I just knew it all along….well good-bye Ms Park….exposed and unwanted you truly are.

  7. Pauline says:

    Please go back to” whatever” planet you came from.

  8. I see, so if I say it is inequitable for large publicly-traded corporations to sponsor a sporting event that excludes people of colour, that makes me a white hater on your logic.

  9. michael says:

    OK…that’s it…. I’m going to go and burn my jock strap in protest!!

  10. John Cerisano says:

    I agree with Richard. Whole-heartedly. Yes, it’s discriminatory, but so what. There are many women’s organizations men cannot join. That’s just as discriminatory. Discrimination is not necessarily a bad thing. Women do not have a divine right to participate in every activity that men choose to engage in as men. Girls do not automatically get to enter the tree house. Some segregation is a good thing. So that men can be men without the social pressures of mixed company. It’s healthy. As for the racial discrimination, I disagree with that because there is no sound reason for it. Guys are guys are guys not matter what race or religion they may be. But women are not guys. And they should stop trying to be.

    Danielle, your point is well taken, but the fact that the Master is a major public spectacle has no bearing on the issue. People can choose to participate or not to participate.

    As for alien caffeine and Pauline, shame on you both for your ad hominem attacks.

  11. Pauline says:

    Thank you for the rebuke John…. but you missed my attempt to lighten up the tone of the replies…..P.S….I still do not agree with you.

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