by Martha Burk
Today’s tee-off at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia came and went without a single woman arriving at Augusta National Golf Club in the icky green jacket that denotes membership. The club never announces new members; members announce themselves by showing up at the tournament in the aforementioned green.
Not having a woman in Augusta National is not news. The club has always been men-only, and it resisted extreme pressure 9 years ago from women’s groups to accept female members. What is news this year is that the lead sponsor of the golf tournament, IBM, has a new CEO–and her name is Virginia. IBM CEOs have always been given memberships. Until now.
Hung out to dry
In the run-up to the tournament there was much press speculation as to whether the club would at last dump their dinosaur image and admit Rometty. And if not, what would IBM do? We found out on Thursday. IBM did nothing, and in doing nothing swallowed its company integrity and hung Rometty out to dry. The silence sent a loud and clear message: “We respect the boys at Augusta National Golf Club more than we respect our woman CEO.”
Close your eyes and imagine a little different scenario. IBM has a new CEO. He is African American. IBM CEOs have always been members of Augusta National. The club has never had an African American (as was true until 1990). Does one of the world’s most successful corporations continue to pour money into Augusta National and underwrite racism? Of course not.
Photo of IBM Chief Virginia Rometty by Fortune Live Media via flickr
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