At the PGA TOUR, we know that our employee demographics are less diverse than our targeted audience. As a relatively small employer with approximately 900 team members, one of our cultural strengths is also a challenge: we enjoy a low turnover rate and long-tenured employees. Therefore, our evolution toward a more diverse workforce will be a journey over time and not a short-term initiative. But we are making strides.
The PGA TOUR’s ERG “MOSAIC,” which enhances the TOUR’s culture to be more diverse and inclusive while educating employees about different cultures, designed a three-pronged sports and business forum – Training U - with the intent to teach minority high school students about the many off-the-field job opportunities available in the sports industry.
In February, they hosted at TPC Sawgrass: 1) a panel discussion and Q&A with diverse sports industry leadership from ESPN, two NFL teams, the PGA TOUR and CAA Sports; 2) interactive breakout sessions to understand potential sports industry career paths; 3) networking opportunities with 16 Florida-based colleges and sports business organizations and affiliates.
More than 200 high school students from Duval and St. Johns County attended “Training U.” The day concluded with a donation to the local Boys & Girls Club of three 15-passenger vans by the forum sponsor, THE PLAYERS Championship. The event was covered by SportsBusiness Journal, Forbes.com and the local Ponte Vedra Beach Recorder.
During the networking session, several students met with representatives of Florida A&M University’s Jacksonville alumni chapter, including current alumni president Angela Freeman, who researched each student’s application status following the event. Less than one week later, fifteen of the students received their acceptance letters, many of them first-generation college-bound, including five who received full-ride scholarships to attend based on their exceptional academic record. “This would not have been possible without Training U,” said Freeman.
It is our hope that by educating diverse populations about opportunities in sports at a young age, and golf in particular, Training U will increase their awareness of viable career options when they are ready to enter the workforce, both to the benefit of the TOUR’s slate of candidates and to our society as a whole.