LPGA Is Wrong in Its English-Only Stance

The White Guy responds to a reader's question about the LPGA's recent requirement that all players must speak English in order to participate in tournaments.

Luke Visconti's Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.


Editor's Note: This column was written previous to the Advertising Age story. 

 

Question:

Will the LPGA English-only rule backfire? Isn't it racist at some level, and don't Fortune 500 companies shy away from these kinds of anti-diversity policies?

 

Answer:

Thank you for your e-mail. Last month, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) announced that tournament players would have to be "effective" in English. There have been no written guidelines announced, no definition of "effective," and there is nothing about this subject on the LPGA web site.

 

LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens was hired in 2005 and is the first woman to have that role in the LPGA's 58-year history. Prior to being LPGA commissioner, Bivens was a senior executive at one of the world's largest advertising-agency conglomerates.

 

One of Bivens' primary responsibilities is developing revenue--mostly from tournament sponsorships and ad revenue generated by television and web viewership.

 

Most of the LPGA's media audience--and certainly the most wealthy audience and the one that advertisers will pay the most to reach--is American. For the 2008 season, 70 percent of LPGA tournaments are scheduled in the United States (25 out of 36). However, non-Americans won 77 percent of the 26 tournaments held so far this year, and 27 percent of the tournaments were won by Asian players.

 

This year, the country with the largest representation of winners is Korea, with four winning players. The United States only has three. Some of this year's non-American players, including Yani Tseng of Taiwan and InBee Park of South Korea, are already proficient in English--but other non-American players are not.

 

Asian players, particularly Korean players, are a growing trend. According to Tees2Green.com, "Se Ri Pak was the only South Korean on the LPGA Tour in 1998, when she inspired a nation with her victory in the U.S. Women's Open. Now, there are 45 players from South Korea on tour--two of them won majors this year--and 121 international players representing 26 countries."

 

Although nobody at the LPGA has commented on this, I think you can make the case that it's tough to get sponsorship money if the winner of the tournament that your company sponsors can't say much more than a couple of words in English.

 

"This is an American tour," said Kate Peters, executive director of the LPGA State Farm Classic. "It is important for sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience."

 

"American" is an interesting way to describe it. Is it really American if the tour is international and most of the winners aren't American citizens? I'd assume that the LPGA feels that their mostly white-American audience can't really bond with non-English-speaking winners, and in turn, sponsors and advertisers will shy away.

 

Regardless, this wasn't the way to resolve the situation. I think you can absolutely make the case that this "effective" English policy is racist--it clearly targets Korean players.

 

The only comment from the LPGA I could find was: "We have been puzzled, if not surprised, by some of the reactions," said deputy commissioner Libba Galloway, who previously was the LPGA's top attorney. "We see this as a pro-international move."

 

"Puzzled?" "Surprised?" Not anticipating this kind of reaction indicates a very sheltered management team. Even if Commissioner Bivens was surprised, sending a subordinate in to take the heat isn't a confidence-inspiring move.

 

So, yes, I think this is going to backfire badly on the LPGA. There is no sign that the organizational knowledge to navigate this difficult and complex situation is in place. There is nothing about this situation on the LPGA's web site nor is anything about diversity on the LPGA web site 

Two Different Cups of Joe: How The Coffee Bean and Starbucks Handled Racism

In an age of increasing racial confrontations, a business must have zero tolerance for discrimination.

In the Trump era, there has been a proliferation of Islamophobic and racist incidents across the country. When discrimination occurs at a place of business, it's apparent if the company's leadership and workforce support diversity and inclusion. A Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café barista refused to serve a racist customer; meanwhile, a white manager at a Starbucks called the police on two Black men for no reason.

Read More Show Less

Maxine Waters Attacked in Congress as she Sought to Protect People from Predators in the Auto Loan Industry

Racist smears and whitesplaining from "men." What's behind the vitriol? If racism is ignored by victims, does it go away?

On Friday, Reps. Mike Kelly and Maxine Waters debated over the House voting to roll back a Consumer Financial Protections Bureau rule meant to limit discrimination in distributing auto loans. Studies have shown Blacks and Latinos have systemically been charged a higher markup on auto loans than white borrowers, and class action lawsuits were brought against auto lenders as a result. Waters advocated for another look at how this vote would impact auto loan practices with people of color. But those on the right insist talk of discrimination is steering away from the country being unified.

Read More Show Less

Is Eric Reid the First Victim of the Kaepernick Effect?

Keeping Reid out of the NFL after Kaepernick's fate was inevitable.

Eric Reid (#35) kneels with his teammates. / REUTERS

Former San Francisco 49ers player Eric Reid has been described by the media as the new Colin Kaepernick. In some ways the label applies — but there are also clear differences between the two.

Read More Show Less

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Executives from Nielsen, New York Life, TIAA and Toyota Motor North America talk about communicating their commitment to D&I management and backing it up with actions that get results.

At the 2018 DiversityInc Top 50 event, more than 400 people were in attendance during the day to hear best practices on effectively managing diversity and inclusion.

Moderator: Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

Panelists:

  • Angela Talton, Chief Diversity Officer, Nielsen
  • Kathleen Navarro, VP & Chief Diversity Officer, New York Life
  • Steve Larson, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion, TIAA
  • Adrienne Trimble, General Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Toyota Motor North America

Golf Club That Called Cops on Black Women Members Faces Business Backlash, Potential Investigation

"It is appalling that someone would call the police for a non-violent incident where the only crime was being Black on a public golf course," State Sen. Vincent J. Hughes said in a statement.

After the co-owner of Grandview Golf Club in York County, Pa., called the police on five Black women members for allegedly golfing too slow, the club's business vendors are beginning to bail and a state senator is calling for an investigation.

Read More Show Less