Charity golf day rethink sparks social media sexism debate

A construction recruitment firm’s decision to cancel its charity golf event due to concerns about inclusivity has caused an online stir.

Writing on the social media platform on Friday, The Shore Group’s co-founder Lewis Yorke-Johnson said his firm’s next charity golf day would be its last.

Since then, the post has received more than 100,000 views and 1,100 reactions.

Only one out of 100 construction workers who attended last year’s event was a woman, Yorke-Johnson wrote.

He added: “I want one diverse charity event, with men and women enjoying the day together, networking together and raising money for a great cause together.”

“And if we can’t do that with a golf day, then next year we’ll plan an event where we can.”

While some commenters applauded Yorke-Johnson’s post, others objected to the golf event’s prospective cancellation.

“Maybe, don’t cancel the Golf Day, just invite more women,” wrote mine surveyor Brett Grocock. “Instead of closing the door to an opportunity, why not open the door a little bit wider?”

Business development manager Cameron Finch commented: “Unless you have been actively and knowingly discriminating against women joining the golf day I don’t know what cancelling the event in the future will achieve. Well apart from hitting charities on the pocket when they need funds more than ever.”

Katherine Evans, mining geologist and founder of women’s networking group Bold as Brass, hailed the move, calling golf “non inclusive on so many levels”, while sales representative Emma Murray wrote: “As a woman that’s been in construction for 24 years, and never been to a golf day, I applaud you!”

The Shore Group has hosted a golf day every year for the past 10 years. The next event will support the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Golf has traditionally been a male-dominated sport. Women made up 28 per cent of British golf players in 2020, up from only 14 per cent the year before, according to the Professional Golfers’ Association.

Yorke-Johnson told Construction News that since posting about the event on LinkedIn, many women had expressed interest in attending a golf event.

He said: “There is a huge appetite from women to learn golf, they’ve just never been invited.”

The firm is discussing with Foxhills, the Surrey golf club that hosted last year’s event, about hosting coaching days for inexperienced players, so people who are not traditionally invited to golf days do not feel intimated at the tee.

The company started looking into the gender diversity of its charity events after three female members of staff attending an external fundraising event said they were “taken aback” at how few women had been in the room, Yorke-Johnson said.

He said: “I had to call my own behaviour out because I hadn’t even noticed what I was doing.

“If there was a golf day, I’d ask the blokes to do it – I wouldn’t even think of asking women.”

Read an extended version of the original LinkedIn post written exclusively for Contruction News by Yorke-Johnson.

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