Pride in the PGA

Folio sat down with Director, Digital Platform Innovation for the PGA Tour, Devon Fox, to talk about her efforts to promote diversity in golf. 

FOLIO 2.0: What is the PGA TOUR stance on fostering diversity in sports and in the workplace?

DEVON FOX: As a global organization, the TOUR aspires to reflect the regions and communities where we play. We believe diversity of thought and background is vital to our success and growth as a company. We’re always striving to create an inclusive and welcoming culture, and to be a positive example for all our constituents and partners. 

Historically, golf has been perceived by many as an elitist sport with a culture that is less than welcoming to differing viewpoints and ideas. Thankfully, this stereotype has been flipped due to the new face of golf that has emerged over the last few decades. We feel that building a vibrant mix of voices and perspectives is the only way to develop the best ideas, foster innovation, and broaden the reach and impact of our sport. At the TOUR, inclusion isn’t just one person’s responsibility like it is at other companies. Instead of a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, we have an Inclusion Leadership Council focused on strategic initiatives to help move us forward in the most inclusive ways possible. We also have six Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that form our boots on the ground approach to rally around specifics areas like people of color, military and first responders, or employees with families.  

And with the unrest we’ve seen in our country recently, we’ve doubled down on our efforts to be part of the solution. TOUR employees observed Juneteenth as a holiday for the first time ever this year, we held a moment of silence at 8:46 AM during our first week in the return to golf after a 13-week break to pay our collective respects to the memory of George Floyd and further lend our voice to the national discussion around racial and social injustices. The commissioner also sat down for a talk with Harold Varner III to discuss what it means to be Black in professional golf and the multicultural and first responder ERGs led employees through very difficult discussions this month to determine our next steps as a company. In those discussions, employees were asked to share their suggestions for how the TOUR could be part of the solution and every single one of those suggestions is being evaluated and considered as we formulate our plan to move forward.

In addition to what we do inside the walls of the PGA TOUR, we also work with The First Tee and the APGA (Advocates Pro Golf Association) Tour. 

We help support The First Tee as it grows and diversifies the game of golf through fan engagement, diversity & inclusion, and civic responsibility efforts. The First Tee teaches nine core values along with nine healthy life Habits to help instill lifelong values and habits for youth. They’re also growing the game by transforming the experience kids and families have with the sport. 

The work we do with the APGA Tour over the last 4 years includes financial grants, in-kind support, and covering the costs of tournament greens fees at certain TPC courses. The APGA players also receive lessons at the PGA TOUR Performance Center and enjoy benefits on the Korn Ferry Tour. Some of the players have even earned sponsors as a result of the PGA TOUR / APGA Tour co-sponsored event at the Farmers Insurance Open.

FOLIO 2.0: What led to the launch of PRISM at the PGA TOUR?  

DEVON FOX: We pride ourselves on the diversity of our players with over 90 international members representing 27 different countries, but something still felt like it was missing for me. PRISM is the TOUR’s first LBGTQ+ and Allies ERG. It was formed to invite, educate, and engage allies to help us achieve full inclusion for LGBTQ+ people at the PGA TOUR. 

I was inspired by my brother to do more in the community when he came out as transgender more than two years ago. When I thought about what I could realistically accomplish, I felt that working to improve representation of LGBTQ+ people in the sports world was something I could directly influence. Our main focus areas right now in PRISM are employee education, policy, events and communications. We’ve also partnered with a local charity called JASMYN that provides assistance to housing insecure LGBTQ+ youth. We work with JASMYN regularly to help with events, food pantry drives and providing volunteers. 

We wanted a name for our group that would reflect the colorful diversity of our employees as well as something that would reference the colors and meaning of the Pride Rainbow. 

FOLIO 2.0: How has PRISM changed the culture at the TOUR since it was formed? 

DEVON FOX: I’m so proud of the work we’ve done in PRISM in just one calendar year. We went from presenting to the talent & culture leadership for approval to start the ERG to having a fully formed group in less than one year. We’ve worked hard to recruit employee members and set a strategy for the group using best practices from the Human Rights Campaign; we’ve researched and made recommendations to the company on how we can change our policies to be more inclusive as well as use more inclusive language, facilitated quarterly meetings to engage our employees, hosted virtual cocktail-making classes featuring talented mixologists from the TPC Network and queer employees with their family members learning to make drinks, rolled out our very first training workshop called “How to be an Ally,” and we’ve even been recognized by the commissioner for helping to make the TOUR culture more inclusive.  

FOLIO 2.0: Has PRISM been embraced by staff?  

DEVON FOX: Absolutely, we launched PRISM with only 5 members and now we serve nearly 100 employees as they strive to learn how to be better allies or to find ways to contribute to our inclusion efforts. We’ve got one TPC engaged in the group right now, TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, but we’re working on plans to extend our ERGs to the entire TPC Network in the near future. In addition to the members we directly service, we offer content and training opportunities to all PGA TOUR staff globally. We’ve been thrilled to see dozens of new employees embracing us during Pride Month this year.