Within 25 years, people of color are projected to be a majority in the United States. As this key demographic rapidly expands, businesses of all sizes across America are realizing the need to hire diverse talent in order to develop products, services, and experiences for a changing population.
Further, research shows that companies that have more diverse workforces outperform and out-innovate those that don’t. According to a 2018 McKinsey report, companies in the top-quartile for workforce diversity are 33% more likely to financially outperform their less diverse counterparts.
But while companies understand why they need to have a more diverse workforce, many aren’t sure how to make it happen. The PGA of America was one, and it faced challenging public perceptions. Golf is often viewed as a primarily white sport, which makes it difficult to recruit from underrepresented communities. Historically, there have been many barriers to entry for people of color interested in golf, including financial hurdles to enter training and acquiring equipment. While the PGA of America has historically instituted programs geared toward attracting diverse talent (like the PGA WORKS program, which actively recruits people from diverse backgrounds to apply for fellowships and other pathways of entry), there’s still more work to be done.
Recently, the PGA decided to partner with Jopwell, a career advancement platform for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals. The partnership is one of many the PGA utilizes to identify new strategic ways to engage, recruit, and retain talent from underrepresented communities by having an authentic voice in these same communities.
What the PGA learned is in some ways unique to golf. But there are plenty of lessons for other companies looking to move from wanting to be more inclusive and diverse to actually hiring employees from diverse backgrounds.
To Create Change, Start with Data
Jopwell, after being commissioned by the PGA, collected direct feedback from its community on their perceptions of the golf industry, including barriers to entry and career opportunities within it. (Jopwell’s community is made up of Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals who have a profile on Jopwell.com and have opted in to receive Jopwell’s communications.) Jopwell segmented the members of this community they polled based on their self-selected interest in sports, finance, and marketing. (Jopwell offered ten $100 gift cards as incentives for the 476 survey participants.)
The data found that there is more of a lack of awareness about career opportunities in the PGA of America than a lack of interest in golf. This was encouraging, as it validated the PGA of America’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the availability of these roles.
Key findings include:
Regardless of whether results of surveys like this are surprising or expected, having accurate data is fundamental to any inclusion and diversity effort. Many people anecdotally have a hunch about what the barriers that prevent diverse candidates from applying are, but gathering actual data points motivates, validates, or disproves decision-makers, and empowers leaders to take action. Many other companies are facing similar challenges in modernizing and diversifying their workforces and would benefit from taking time to hear from the candidates they’re trying to reach.
Then Translate Data into Action
Using these findings, the PGA of America and Jopwell developed a plan of action to lay the foundation for lasting change around hiring. The three key steps are to improve accessibility, increase awareness, and create systems of accountability.
Step 1: Improve accessibility. It’s important for companies to consider barriers to entry and what can be done to break them down. They must take steps to ensure diverse candidates are part of the pipeline of consideration for new hires. To address these issues, the PGA of America is now:
Step 2: Increase awareness. After ensuring that job opportunities are accessible and distributed widely, the PGA also asked itself: What are we doing to educate diverse candidates about the opportunities that are available? Are we reaching this community where they are in ways that speak to them authentically? Resulting actions include:
Step 3: Create systems of accountability. Systems and processes must be put in place to help change a culture. For example, if you get a wave of applicants, do you have the right interview channels set up to quickly move them along? If you say you are open to candidates without a background in golf, does everyone interviewing the candidates know that? Some steps to take:
The PGA of America and Jopwell both understand that change doesn’t happen overnight. Yet, armed with the right data, new ideas, and a plan for steps to take, the two organizations are excited to continue breaking down barriers to entry and inviting people of all backgrounds to explore opportunities in the golf industry. We hope the lessons learned through our data and the action items outlined can help other companies that are attempting to attract diverse talent, too.
By Sandy Cross and Porter Braswell
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