our traditionally male company has an annual golf trip — but our new female employees don’t play

A reader writes:

Our smallish family-owned business has been taking our sales team on a long weekend golf trip on and off for many years/decades. It is intended to be a reward/retreat type trip, and little if any business is discussed when we are there. Mostly beer drinking, side betting golf, in a beach town with multiple golf courses and a long weekend. Many of our team have young children and the weekend getaway is well received and appreciated, and talked about throughout the year. The sales team of 10-15 people in two branches are the only ones eligible for the trip because they are paid via commission, and therefore do not receive bonuses under our pay structure.

Historically, all or very nearly all of our sales team have been male, and golfers. The managers are all golfers and our company is based in a town where golf is a big deal (major tournament held here every year, we sponsor many charity golf tournaments, customers and vendors regularly take our sales members golfing). This year, we have three female employees eligible for the trip who do not play golf. In the past if we had a male sales rep who did not play golf, he might come on the trip and ride in a cart, and just drink beer or observe, or might elect to not attend at all. We play a “best ball” style game where you really do not have to play well at all to participate.

So we are currently trying to decide how to handle this year’s trip, without ostracizing anyone and also without taking away a much appreciated day off and benefit. I am relatively new, but the rest of the managers have been here for decades. We usually take a Friday off and return on Sunday. Their proposed options include:

– Providing a separate cabin for the women, and offering them money (equivalent to the golf package spent on the men) to take a day trip and eat/shop/day trip in a nearby major destination city while the men are golfing.

– Providing them the separate cabin, but no other plan options (basically ride along on the course, and not miss the fellowship aspect of the trip). One of the women already proposed being a “cart girl” passing out beers, but I don’t think the other women would appreciate such a plan.

– Offering a cash benefit, based on the value of the trip, and the day off, as an alternative to attending. The proposal was based on the assumption that some or all of them may not want to attend, but those that did want to could. But here is the catch — this would not be offered to the men. It has always been jokingly referred to as a mandatory trip, but it seems every year one or two people cannot attend. They are not expected to work that day but have never been given additional benefits.

Any thoughts on this? I feel like offering all three would cover our bases, but it doesn’t address the fact that if you are not actively playing golf in this tournament style weekend, you will be missing time with managers and owners of the company. In the past none of these options were offered to men who did not play golf. I am a little nervous any time gender issues come up at work and feel like this situation is ripe to strike out with at least one of our female employees.

I think your golf trip is going to have to change. Maybe not this year, but for future years.

Here’s the thing: You cannot, as a business, host trips that men attend and women don’t. That’s true even if the women are invited but choose not to go. If you find that you’re sponsoring something that women generally don’t want to participate in while the men do, you need another plan.

The push-back to that is, of course, “But other people like it! Why should they have to lose a trip that they look forward to and which historically has been a fun thing we’ve rallied around?”

And the answer to that is: Because you’re a workplace and you need to ensure that the activities you sponsor aren’t segregated by gender, even if it happens voluntarily. As an employer, there are priorities above “let people have fun,” like ensuring that women aren’t alienated and that they have equal access to networking opportunites and to your leadership. And “let people have fun” is also trumped by your organization’s obligation to follow the law — because this kind of thing has led to sex discrimination lawsuits. In fact, there’s a long, well established history of women being excluded professionally through socializing of exactly this kind of thing (golf is probably the most common example that comes up, in fact). At a minimum your company is going to appear remarkably oblivious to that deeply entrenched history — but it also risks actual legal problems sprouting from it.

And yes, the push-back to that is, “Well, the women could participate if they wanted to! They’re choosing not to.”

The answer to that is: Yes. They’re choosing not to. So it’s on your company to see that and change its practices accordingly, so that it’s not organizing networking opportunites that only men are responding to. The intent isn’t what matters here — the actual outcome is.

To respond to the specifics in your letter: Your instincts are right that under no circumstances should anyone suggest the women be “cart girls.”

You also shouldn’t offer to send women shopping while the men golf. That’s playing right into sexist stereotypes. You can’t do that.

And you can’t offer the women cash and a day off while not offering that to men because it’s illegal to pass out perks based on sex.

Nor should you be hosting a trip where the men golf and network while they women get a cabin but miss out on the rest (again, even if it’s their choice).

So, what do you do? Honestly, I think you’ll need to phase out the trip and instead find things that both men and women are up for participating in. That’s your responsibility as a business. And yes, you’re going to get some complaints, but complaints are not a reason not to do the correct thing. You can frame it as, “As our staff has grown, we’re hearing that there are other things people would enjoy doing.” (In fact, it might be worth surveying your staff about what activities they’d enjoy, or whether they want off-hours activities at at all. And who knows, you might find out that this trip isn’t the first choice for all of the men either.)

Assuming it’s too late to do that for this year, though, you should make the trip voluntary for everyone, not just the women, and give everyone the choice of the trip or the time off. And you should consider planning something else for this year that will have broader appeal (ideally scheduled during work hours so people don’t have to give up their weekends to attend).

Does it suck for people who liked and looked forward to this trip each year? Yes! It does. And it’s still what you need to do if you want to be a workplace that’s inclusive (and legally sound).

{ 1,625 comments… read them below }

  1. The Bermudian*

    Obvious, but could you not offer those who wanted to come along but don’t know how to play golf… lessons? i.e. professional ones with a pro. I would love that, personally.

    1. zimmertaco*

      I was typing out the same thing!

      I wasn’t sure from the letter whether the women just “don’t” golf or whether they don’t *wish* to golf. Maybe if golf is as big a part of your company’s culture and business opportunities and community footprint as you say, the company could consider offering subsidized beginner golf lessons for any employees who want to learn. I know many women, myself included, who learned to golf in order to have access to some of those networking opportunities. I get that nobody should have to learn a sport just to get ahead, but truly a lot of business and shop talk happens of golf courses–and it seems fair to attempt to put that sort of thing in reach for all employees even while you’re also trying to minimizing negative impacts of those who don’t want to take that approach.

      This is not, of course, an immediate solution to the golf trip conundrum.

      1. JokeyJules*

        your 2nd sentence makes me wonder if OP asked them that specifically… which is a good point! Never have and never will are hugely different.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


        I’m not interested in golf for the sake of golf at all, but I’m very conscious of its intertwined position with business, and if my company offered golf lessons that I didn’t have to pay for, I’d jump at them as a(n unfortunately necessary) professional development tool.

        1. goducks*

          As a woman who has worked very hard to be taken seriously, the thought of taking beginner lessons at something that I’m not interested in and almost certainly wouldn’t be good at in full view of my male colleagues is a hard pass. I’m ok owning up to shortcomings in the workplace, but I’m not going to subject myself to an unnecessary reason to look a fool.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Not only that, it still doesn’t address the issue that the women who work there still wouldn’t be getting the same time with executives to rub shoulders and schmooze for advancement opportunities.

              1. Bittersuess*

                My former company did something like this: All the men in the department would go to a gun range. I was the only woman, and I HATE guns. They offered to teach me to shoot, so that I could “tag along.” Not only was it a hard pass, it motivated me to leave. Not surprising, I also experienced pregnancy and post-pregnancy discrimination in that department.

                In short, lessons to “fit in” are not the way to go.

                1. Daniela*

                  Oh my gosh, I would have traded horrible workplaces with you in a second. Lessons sound fun, at least. At a former job in the late 90s, our President, VP, CFO and a few other execs would hold actual company meetings at a strip club. Most years, they also went to Sturgis and stories would trickle back about hookers and drugs. Not surprisingly, the 2 female C-suite employees were never included.

                2. RUKiddingMe*

                  Exactly. The women do not need to “fir in.” The company needs to change to be inclusive. Sure the boys will whine how it’s so “not fair.” Tough.

            1. MeepMeep*

              How good of a golfer is your average executive? It’s not like they’re professional-level players. If it’s a bonding activity for otherwise very busy people, I think the skill level expected is pretty average. Once the non golfers on the team get to that level, they get the exact same opportunities to network.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                How good of a golfer is someone who’s a beginner going to be and how much time, money, and practice would this person need to get to to even be at an average level with the rest of the execs? They’re not getting to average with a couple free lessons here and there from the company, not unless they’re naturally gifted, so no – they won’t end up getting the same exact opportunity.

              2. Oxford Comma*

                It’s not just knowing how, there are associated expenses. You’ve got to get a set of clubs, greens fees, etc. And it’s not the easiest thing in the world to learn. Not the hardest, but not the easiest.

              3. RUKiddingMe*

                “Once the non golfers on the team get to that level, they get the exact same opportunities to network.”

                This…is a problem. They shouldn’t need to reach a certain level of golf (or anything else) ability before being given the exact same opportunities.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Same here. No interest in traditional golf at all.

            You’re never going to find something that everyone *wants* to do, but you can find things that are less traditionally gendered. During the work day, yes, not laser tag.

            1. Gumby*

              I would *love it* if work offered a laser tag trip. And I’m a woman. I also know women who golf for fun (not for networking).

              Just because a person is a woman doesn’t mean she can’t be interested in golf. Or laser tag. Or football. Or whatever. Just as men can be totally into gymnastics or dance or whatever. Is it less likely? Probably. But any given company is working with actual people not theoretical people – so ask them! Poll your employees to find out what they would find fun and interesting. Ignore whether the activity seems gendered as long as everyone is at least moderately interested in it. Maybe change it up and do something different every year making sure to distribute fairly the “extremely interested” and “moderately interested” activities among the whole staff.

              It is obviously wrong to hold the golf retreats when the women that you already have employed are not interested. But it is another thing entirely to write off an entire sport or other activity because it has traditionally skewed male. Or female.

              1. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

                I am a big fan of laser tag. I am extremely bad at it, but I love it.

              2. Anonyish*

                The big disappointment of my working life is that I am not in a job in which there is any chance of an away day doing paintballing or laser tag.

                I do think that there’s a particular issue with golf in that it has a long and continuing history as a very gendered sport (and also a racially segregated sport, and in many places a de facto class segregated one due to cost) that means that it isn’t simply gendered in terms of assumed interest, but in terms of practical access regardless of personal interest. I wouldn’t be thrilled at a work trip to a football (soccer) match, but at least that is something that as a woman I have always had the option to attend. Unlike golf, which when I was growing up didn’t have women members on local courses.

                That said, the company has a tradition. How about an option of going to the place, golf being one of a couple of activities – the other NOT being shopping – and the managers/owners engaging in both activities equally so everyone gets an opportunity to mingle with them.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Right on, goducks. While I know I would make myself look foolish what really concerns me is my premature death from boredom. I. can’t. do. it. The thought of spending several hours, never mind a day or more, golfing would be enough for me to hand in my notice. I am not a sports person probably in part because I have never been good at it. There’s only so many times a person can look foolish and then that person just decides they are Done, with a capital D. I want a job for the work, not to play sports.

            OP, are people told about this on the interview? It sounds like it’s a big deal for your company.

          4. Mookie*

            Agreed. In many places golf is so coded white, male, and affluent (or just aspirational), that it’s hard to imagine members of that demographic condescending to take up the offer of ‘coaching’ lest they lose status. Segregating by expertise is hardly likely to substantially differ in representation from the default golf event; the same people are likely to miss out on the schmoozing and networking, which is the point.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          WORD UP. I would rather do almost anything else. If I wanted to learn to golf, I’d have taken up lessons on my own. It’s not like it’s not accessible.

        3. O'Henry*

          +1. All Allison’s “solution” will accomplish is to make sure the men get together to play golf informally. Lessons make sure that experienced golfers and newbies alike can network.

          1. Lunita*

            Not really-if I’m a beginner spending all my time that weekend trying to catch up with a trainer, I’m not going to get networking opportunities because the higher ups are going to be playing a game, not training with me.

      3. dealing with dragons*

        I have a shoulder injury that makes it impossible to golf. I can’t make the motion.

        Guess that means I don’t get to network?

        1. Midge*

          Good point. It obviously hasn’t come up yet for this company, but this is also an accessibility issue.

        2. Kat in VA*

          Me also. A ton of titanium in my neck precludes me from anything that requires twisting.

        3. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

          I have hemiparesis. I walk with a limp and have the use of only one arm.

          I wouldn’t be able to golf even if I wanted to.

        4. Ego Chamber*

          Is your other shoulder okay though? You could still be a “cart girl”! /s

        5. Big Bank*

          I’m legitimately at a loss on what activities are appropriate. If you account for all the potential physical limitations people may have, plus account for preferences, remove anything considered gendered, what are you left with? Going out to lunch? Except no, now you’ve got allergies and diet preferences, plus the alcohol question… I get that things should be as inclusive as possible, but I just dont agree that every preference needs considered. OP mentions the game is played lose, so people not good can still play and would hopefully not be made uncomfortable. People that can’t play can hang out and chat on the course. Is it perfect for everyone? No, but what the hell is?

          1. dealing with dragons*

            I also can’t bowl without pain (or with any skill lol) but I can still sit around and chat there. and you’re making a general guess over a whole population, whereas the OP needs to find an activity appropriate for 10-15 people. It boils down to needing to accept that golf has a sordid history (many courses did not allow women at all until 20 years ago. let that sink in.) and trying to find new things for your growing workforce. In this instance you can take the gender out of it – you have say 5 “old boys” golfing but then you’ve hired 5 new people – maybe they don’t like golf or maybe they have new ideas of things to do. Maybe a scotch tasting tour? Maybe a boat ride down a river? who knows.

          2. OP*

            Cash… I think that is it.
            Which is why I assumed that you could use the knowledge you have about your employees (their interests and abilities) to pick activities. Apparently that is not the case.

      4. Op*

        Op here. Really like this idea. One of the reasons for the golf trip is that, like I said in the letter, it is a common benefit for our sales staff to participate in customer and nonprofit golf events during work hours.

        I will definitely look into this! Thanks!

          1. Win*

            Ok I am trying to catch up on the comments. Why is that? If they are turning down customer requests because they do not know how to play…. it seems to me this would be a good career move. Obviously optional.

            1. Rayner*

              Because this is not about how to play. This is about an activity that excludes people and giving them lessons doesn’t solve the issue.

              It makes the issue ‘how can we get them playing’ rather than ‘is this an inclusive activity regardless of skill level or desire to play?’ Because you’re offering an activity that doesn’t appeal to all, and you’re saying to a specific group of people ‘in order to participate fully, you will likely need lessons but most of the men won’t’.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              There’s extensive discussion of this below, but it’s also because of the deeply entrenched history golf has in sex discrimination in workplaces (quoting fposte, it’s “a dated monoculture associated with asymmetric and unfair privilege”).

              1. Felicia*

                Honestly, Allison, I’m going to have to challenge your response as unhelpful and borderline sexist.
                Your answer largely boils down to “find something else to do” without providing any helpful alternatives. What is a gender neutral social activity, several hours long (or day long, or several days long) that is also conducive to simultaneous business discussion and networking? As a woman, what would you want it replaced with? A man is asking you for help here, and you tell him what not to do, but you don’t tell him what he should do.
                Moreover, those suggesting lessons are correctly making the distinction whether they don’t golf, or don’t wish to golf. If it is the latter, then that is one thing, but you should not shut down the possibility of the former without suggesting he inquire if the affected employees would want it.
                Most importantly though, as a female golfer, I am offended by the implication that women just don’t golf. Period. The toxic notion that women don’t like sports (or science, or executive work) is perpetuated by women just as much as men, and that is what you have done. If golf is part of this company’s culture, then women should be encouraged to participate. You know as well as I do that if this is changed, the women will be blamed for killing the fun. They are not being asked to participate in anything sexual, illegal, or morally compromising. It’s a friggin game, and there is no reason to shut that down on the completely false notion that women don’t like sports – especially if you don’t have another suggestion.

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  Where did Alison say women as a whole don’t like sports? She noted that, per the OP, the women at this particular workplace on this particular sales team don’t like golf. So if that’s the case, how is this trip, which is supposed to be a reward for performance, really a reward or perk? They get absolutely nothing out of it, so yes, the company should find another reward.

                2. MsM*

                  “What is a gender neutral social activity, several hours long (or day long, or several days long) that is also conducive to simultaneous business discussion and networking?”

                  Escape room? Boat trip (as long as rapids aren’t involved)? Camping? Historical site tour? D&D? And that’s on ten seconds’ worth of brainstorming. I appreciate that you’re defending your hobby, but if someone can’t come up with an alternative to golf, they’re not trying very hard.

                3. CanuckCat*

                  My organization always does a full day off-site in the summertime, as a ‘thank you’ to staff for all the hard work they put in every year. Last year we had a catered lunch, followed by either a scavenger hunt or a site tour of the location we had lunch at (depending on people’s preference for activity level). In previous years they’ve done escape rooms, movie days and plenty of other activities that don’t necessitate people knowing how to do a very specific activity or sport.

                4. Felicia*

                  These are good suggestion for purely social activities, but are not conducive to conversation in the same way that golf is. Have you ever tried talking about improving sales during an escape room?

                5. fposte*

                  You’re talking as if operating culturally blind were a solution to sexism (and for that matter racism and other bigotry), and that’s a fallacy. You’re also talking as if Alison had invented out of whole cloth the idea that the female employees don’t play golf, when the OP explicitly states that.

                6. stitchinthyme*

                  From the original letter: “It is intended to be a reward/retreat type trip, and little if any business is discussed when we are there.”

                  If it’s supposed to be fun, they should poll the employees and see what people would like to do! Throw in some suggestions (a bunch have been mentioned here, like laser tag, escape rooms, etc), but allow people to write in their own as well. If it’s supposed to be a perk and not a business thing, then it should be fun for everyone, or at least as close to everyone as possible.

                7. Ulf*

                  Some possible activities that, like golf, include short bursts of not-very-physical activity interspersed with dead periods in which talking is A-OK, or activities that, also like golf, don’t require an enormous amount of brainpower, making conversation very possible:

                  Quilting or knitting (what? surely you’re not saying that men don’t like needlework?). Spades, hearts, or gin rummy. Bowling. Watching a baseball game. Flatwater canoeing. Watersliding. A leisurely hike. All allow for a fun experience with others and plenty of time for talking or bonding or whatever the heck it is that happens on a golf course. Really, it’s not difficult to come up with alternatives to golf.

                  If you find you don’t like one (or more) of these activities, you might try to put yourself in the position of someone who doesn’t have any interest in golf being told that golf is the activity of the weekend, sorry, that’s the way it is.

                  I don’t know very many golfers, but most of those I know share Felicia’s rather peculiar idea that EVERYBODY likes (or should like) to play, watch, and think about golf as often as humanly possible. I’m sure there are golfers who aren’t like this, but let’s put it this way: the golfers I know generally seem to lack theory of mind, at least where this passion is concerned. It’s very weird.

                8. Hoya Lawya*

                  I agree with Felicia. A lot of this response seems to boil down to “I don’t like golf,” partly or mostly because in some contexts it was exclusionary. It doesn’t follow that it’s *always* exclusionary, though — and I certainly don’t see how the mere fact of hitting a ball down a fairway is inherently exclusionary.

                  Granted, there are some people with disabilities, back problems, and so on. However, I don’t think the idea that “someone out there might be unable to play” is the same as broadbased exclusion. By that standard, no company could ever participate in a charity 5K race, or a pickup basketball game (Obama played those, so are you saying his White House was exclusionary?), or a short hike. That stance strikes me as unrealistic.

                  Tennis used to be perceived as exclusionary, too, but that began changing with Billie Jean King and players like Zina Garrison, and of course today we have players like Venus and Serena.

                9. Mookie*

                  Alison didn’t create the phenomenon the LW is literally describing as actually happening. As with “race,” there’s an important difference between feigning gender-blindness and acknowledging the the disparities borne of genderedness. No, recognizing sexism isn’t Just As Bad as sexism, unconscious or not.

                10. Mookie*

                  Also, the proposition that male-coded activities be regarded as default and neutral is, you guessed it, plain old sexism.

              2. Ginevra Farnshawe*

                This this this this this forever. Golf, even more than other Work Sports, has an ugly history of being used by business bros precisely to shut out women (and also of extreme racism while we’re on it). “No girls allowed” was the primary purpose and whatever it is that is actually involved in the Act of Golf was just an excuse. I have no opinion on whether any particular woman should learn to golf for her career (unless her career is professional golfer), but an employer proposing golf lessons to me would get an earful. It’s not a hard problem, virtually ANY other activity has less baggage.

                1. Felicia*

                  This is the complete opposite of “No girls allowed.” This is them literally inviting women to join. If the golf has a history of excluding women, then the solution is to include them. Not abolish golf. By that logic, we should eliminate medicine, entertainment, engineering, and finance.

                2. OP*

                  So one reason I like the lessons idea is that our sales reps are regularly invited to play by their customers or organizations their customers support. That is not going away, and the ones that do play are regularly permitted to play during working hours which could be seen as a huge benefit.

                  So in my mind, even if we canceled the trip forever, offering golf lessons to our sales reps seems like a pretty good idea.

                3. Ginevra Farnshawe*

                  If I was unclear, it’s not that golf itself has a history of excluding women, it’s that golf has a almost *unique* history of being used in non-golf related professional contexts as a device for excluding women. Like, e.g. taking clients to strip clubs. The solution there isn’t “invite women to strip clubs with clients,” the solution is cut it out.

                  I am also skeptical that if you teach a woman to golf she will get invited to all the golfs, precisely because the boy’s club atmosphere is *the point* for so many men. Willing to be proven wrong.

                4. Ginevra Farnshawe*

                  Just for contrast–I worked somewhere that offered surfing lessons on a corporate retreat. That was fine. Is surfing traditionally dominated by men and are there sexists aspects to surfing culture? Yes. Are there decades of history of whole industries (in my case, corporate law) using surf meetings as an exclusionary tactic in the workplace? I don’t think so, though maybe I don’t know about it because all the surf meetings are kept secret from me.

                5. Jules the 3rd*

                  OP, sure, offer lessons, but don’t tie them to the trip, or to networking, in any way.

                  Think about it: on the trip, the guys are out together on a round while the women are back getting lessons. They totally lose out on the networking opportunities.

                  Other options:
                  A lavish group lunch, maybe more than 1x/year
                  Actual bonuses. Add bonuses for the sales team to your pay structure.
                  A movie outing?

                  Mgmt’s going to resist this because they get a free golf trip on the company with their buddies. That’s so 1950s, it’s time to move into the 21st century…

                  Really curious how your black sales people are dealing with this. Do you have any? do they play, or are they the salespeople who ‘couldn’t make it’? There’s still clubs in the US where they’re not welcome; Tiger Woods wasn’t allowed to play in the 2013 British Open because it was hosted at a club that didn’t allow blacks.

                6. RainbowsAndKitties*

                  Felicia, we are not saying “eliminate golf”. We are saying that choosing a golf outing as the “reward” for OP’s employee is not the best idea when all of the employees cannot equally reap the reward.

                7. Lizzy May*

                  “Tiger Woods wasn’t allowed to play in the 2013 British Open because it was hosted at a club that didn’t allow blacks.”

                  That isn’t true. And I don’t want to downplay the history of racism and current issues with racism in golf because they are very real, but Tiger Woods tied for 6th at the 2013 British Open.

                8. Kaaaaaren*

                  Yes! Golf in particular has an ugly history of exclusion, but just based on sex but also race (and also, I would argue, class). It’s a problematic activity in a business setting, even if most of this particular office likes it.

                9. Lis*

                  Not able to reply to the comment itself because of nesting but there is no way on earth Tiger Woods was not allowed to play in a British Open because he was black. That’s just not a thing in the UK. If he was female maybe but not because of race.

                10. Anonyish*

                  The 2013 Open was held at Muirfield, where Tiger Woods played. The people banned from Muirfield were women, who the club voted again in 2016 to ban – but changed its mind in 2017 because the R&A said OK, if it wouldn’t admit women, then it wouldn’t get to host the Open again*. And the R&A didn’t give a shit about that in 2013, but denied it was a problem, it only changed when major female figures in Scottish politics and public life made it an issue.

                  I am sure that many of Muirfield’s members are racist and that racism remains a problem in UK golf, but – unlike single-sex sports club – banning members on grounds of race is illegal.

                  *Muirfield still has no women members, because there is a very long waiting list with a lot of men on it.

                11. O'Henry*

                  “Felicia, we are not saying “eliminate golf”. We are saying that choosing a golf outing as the “reward” for OP’s employee is not the best idea when all of the employees cannot equally reap the reward.”

                  All that will accomplish is to make sure that the golfers get together on their own, where they’ll talk shop without the non-golfers being invited. Perhaps the company won’t pay, but if they talk business on the links they might even be able to take a tax deduction, so no harm, no foul.

                12. Mookie*

                  By that logic, we should eliminate medicine, entertainment, engineering, and finance

                  Ahistorical dogwhistke comparable to proclamations that so-called Western Civilization is the author of the present and the sole invention of white Europeans. Don’t blame women for your ignorance.

              3. Earthwalker*

                The men in our organization golfed together on company time. A woman coworker took lessons and asked to join them. She was allowed to do it once, but it was made clear that she would not be welcome again. Was that because she wasn’t good enough or because she was a woman? I don’t know. But I know that lessons doesn’t make a men’s golf outing gender neutral. The men kept golfing while we covered for them on the job, and then sneered at us when we women weren’t “in the know” about something that the boss revealed to them on the golf course. (That’s a good reason not to have the men golf while the women have an equally expensive shopping trip.) Personally I object on principle to the emblematic activity of exclusive country clubs, clubs that intentionally exclude people who are not rich, white, and male.

            3. Richard Hershberger*

              My own two cents is that I, a male non-golfer, would not enjoy this. Is the point here a fun benefit, or a schmooze event? If the latter, I might suck it up and learn to play golf, but it would entirely fail on the “fun benefit” front. I would be grimly doing something I didn’t want to do, while having to pretend otherwise. I would be counting the minutes until I could go home.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                Right. Some reward when you don’t even like the thing they’re trying to foist off on you.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                Right. Any job that involves golfing falls off my radar just for that alone. The entire game would be work for me and cohorts telling me it’s fun would be off-putting to me. It would make me feel unheard. Hence my solution of avoiding the whole problem.

          2. CoffeeforLife*

            I think the OP sees the golf lessons separate from the original question. Company sponsored discounted/free lessons that you take on your own time to ultimately help your sales and networking at charity event.

            I dislike mandatory fun but I’d jump on inexpensive lessons. Someone commented that they are accessible…well, they aren’t cheap! I’m learning and it’s around $100 an hour where I live.

            1. Washi*

              Yeah, this would be fine. Given what the OP is saying about the area, having a perk of the company be that everyone (not just sales staff even) gets like, 5 free golf lessons per year would be kind of cool. Some companies offer gym memberships, and if OP’s company wants to offer golf lessons, that would probably be appreciated.

              But that is NOT to preserve the golf trip, which needs to be changed for the many, many reasons detailed here.

              1. Micklak*

                Being encouraged to engage in a sport I had no interest in would be a punishment, not a perk.

                1. Sunny*

                  Not to mention that even players who love the sport may take years to get to a point where they can hold their own in a round.

                2. Washi*

                  I’m trying to think of an analogy, and the only one that’s coming to mind is let’s say that this is a field where all the top people are fluent in Latin. It’s not a requirement, but it really helps with networking. However, only people who went to fancy prep schools and colleges are fluent in Latin and there ends up being a huge divide between the Latin speakers and the non-speakers.

                  An annual company retreat where everyone gets together and only reads classical epics in Latin would be very exclusive. But if the company said essentially “we acknowledge that Latin will get you opportunities in this field so everyone is entitled to free weekly lessons” that would probably be welcomed. Not because everyone is naturally good at languages or excited about Latin, but because realistically, they are at a disadvantage for not knowing it and this is a chance to correct that, which can happen more quickly than an entire culture will change to not gate-keep based on Latin knowledge.

                3. Triplestep*

                  Seriously. OP, I am sorry to have to tell you, but even some of your male staff don’t enjoy this trip, but they go and act grateful because they have the kind of employer who thinks that not loving it would be a “red flag”.

                4. Hijos de Sanchez*

                  You know what? I hate golf. It is boring to me. Boring as watching grass grow.

                  But you know what else? I know that networking gets done over golf. So I learned to play. I will never be Tiger Woods, but I can play passibly. I still hate it. Every. Single. Minute. But I do it because it helps professionally, and I have no problem with that and do not judge people who do business over golf.

                5. RUKiddingMe*

                  @Hijos de Sanchez

                  No, no, no baseball is like watching grass grow. Golf is like watching grass seeds germinate.

                6. SS Express*

                  OP, I was really in your corner until that comment. If an employer’s attitude is that I should be grateful to be offered a “perk” that is a chore for me, and that I can’t opt out of without missing a valuable networking opportunity and putting myself at a disadvantage, that’s a red flag to me.

                7. MCMonkeyBean*

                  Yikes, OP seemed like they were really wanting to make their employees happy but after their reply to this comment I’m really not sure what their endgame even is?

            2. Micklak*

              As a clumsy nerd, I’m breaking out in a cold sweat at the suggestion that I would just need a few lessons in a sport I have no experience or interest in to fit into a work culture that I depend on to support your life.

              1. Kix*

                As a person with mobility issues, I’m discouraged that, in this day and age, I’d actually have to speak up as to why I cannot participate in an activity that sounds like a requirement to fit into the work culture. I’ve been there before, and when I spoke up and said WHY I couldn’t participate in said activity, I was told I needed to be a good sport and give it a try. I did, and it went badly. It’s not OK to put employees on the spot in situations like this.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  This highlights what is so wrong here.

                  I have found articles that said, “You must play golf if you want to succeed in the work world.” Well, I thought, I guess I will never succeed.
                  But that my-way or highway approach isn’t right. I think Alison did a great job breaking down what is wrong there.
                  One improvement I do see is that society is more willing to talk about this issue now.
                  Another improvement I see is at least with NPOs there are tighter regs about meetings and what constitutes a meeting, when meetings are and are not in compliance.

          1. TheThatcher*

            It does sound like the women have been able to provide input, as one of them suggested being a ‘cart girl’. I’m definitely not suggesting to go with the ‘cart girl’ idea, but it does show that input was received from the women on the team at the very least.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              I would be very skeptical of what kind of input the women felt comfortable giving. They know that this is an ingrained tradition and this is their job. A lot of people would hesitate to suggest a drastic change from something this established and get labeled the office party-pooper.

              1. goducks*

                Yes. I’m not convinced that the culture of this workplace is one where the women will feel comfortable expressing themselves. The OP already said that the golfing guys are going to feel like this is being “taken away” from them. Are the women, who are all brand new to this old-boys network department really going to feel safe to express themselves?

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  Not at all. And the fact that OP keeps doubling down on this golf idea makes me think that even if these women did speak up and say they’d rather do something else (or even some of the men – some of them may not even truly like it, but felt they had to go along with the group), their concerns would be ignored anyway because this is just how it is in this industry.

                2. EmKay*

                  No they won’t. OP is already handwaving away non-golf suggestions here. I guarantee you that attitude is felt at the office.

                3. OP*

                  The trip is 6 months away. The conversation has been extremely informal. No pressure, no firm dates or invitations. I am trying to prepare before we get to that point of making real plans.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  Yuuuup. There is no winning here. If you’re working at a place where the guys network at strip clubs, you can either be “that frigid girl” or “that weird girl who tags along to the strip clubs.”

                  Ask me how I know! ;D

                2. Lora*

                  *waves* Hi other Weird Girl / Ice Princess! There is really NO winning, is there?!?

                  When it comes to the vast category of things I learned to do for the purpose of Networking With Men, my personal favorite was poker. You sit there and drink whatever (soda water or tea as needed) and eat nibbles with cards in your hand. It’s relatively accessible to many people (keep the buy-in price very low), the Manly Men can sit there sipping overpriced whiskey, it’s only one evening once in a while, there’s plenty of time to chat.

                  I have a friend who also does Board Game/D&D Nights, and there are a LOT of people (even higher up in the food chain) who are into that sort of thing. You wouldn’t think it, there’s the stereotype of Manly Men smoking cigars and shotgunning beers on the golf course, but a great many financial decision-makers were nerdy physicists or engineers in a past life.

                  Now that I think about it, most of the financial decision-makers I know don’t really have time to play golf even if they were interested. Granted, this may just be my field, but if the point was reaching out to customers and you asked a bunch of Big Pharma guys on a golf outing, I think the only takers would be either thirsty social climbers who don’t have much power in the organization or guys counting the days to retirement who are pretty far removed from those type of decisions anyway.

            2. Observer*

              Not really.

              It sounds like it was “Hey, there is this trip that all the guys like, and we’re trying to find a way to continue doing that even though none of the women can play. What do you think?” (Obviously not those exact words, but something like that.)

              Clearly there has not been a open and open ended discussion, or the OP would not need to “think” the that other women might not like the “cart girl” suggestion. They would know this with a high degree of certainty.

            3. Kat in VA*

              Yes, going on a fun golf outing where your involvement is exclusively serving the men.

              Sound fantastic.

              If that sounds super sarcastic, it’s meant to.

          2. Washi*

            I think it could be really hard to ask the women for their input without putting them in the tough place of either pretending they’re ok with something so as not to rock the boat, or being That Person who caused the fun golf trips to stop.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Yeah I think that instead of putting the women in this untenable position, OP/OP’s employer could, IDK, do the actual work to find something else. Even if they have to hire a consultant to help them get their heads out…

        1. Psyche*

          If golfing is important in your field (not just a perk but a networking/sales opportunity) it could be a good thing to offer to pay for or subsidize lessons. This should not be combined with the trip though. Golf lessons are not a fun reward or a networking opportunity.

          1. une autre Cassandra*

            That’s my thought, Psyche. Divorced from the fraught topic of the trip, if charity golf tournaments are A Thing in this company/community, I’d be intrigued enough to take advantage of free-to-me lessons…but not in the context of letting me “tag along” on a golf-oriented weekend that’s also traditionally a guys’ weekend.

            1. Felicia*

              If you really want to proceed with the trip, you will at least need to rebrand it from a “golf trip”, and take more conscious steps to ensure that it is inclusive.
              1) Pick a location with other activities, like a spa or other sports. Plenty of resorts offer many things to do in addition to golf.
              2) Seriously tone down how mandatory / work related the golf is. Don’t have management or anyone formally organize games and tee times. Say “if you want to golf, that option is available to you” and let the employees work it out themselves. These people are adults, and can be trusted to arrange their own activities.
              3) Allow significant others and kids to come. For some, a weekend away from family is what they want, but for others it may be a disincentive – especially if that time away is forced socializing with colleagues. (That being said, you don’t have to pay for the extra guests, so choose somewhere affordable and kid friendly)
              4) This is an important one – make sure senior management spends their time with employees equally (especially not gender imbalanced). If, as you suggest, the golf becomes all male, then they should set aside time to have (appropriate) time with the women, such as a women and managers only lunch (or whatever – just make sure the women get quality conversation time too).

              1. OP*

                Felicia: This looks like what we will be doing, although, without number 3.

                Thank you for your comment.

                1. Penny Parker*

                  What you are doing is wrong. You are looking for any way to preserve it, without listening to the feedback you are getting about it being wrong and inappropriate. You seem to have written in for absolution for your sexism, not to listen to how this is outdated and extremely sexist.

              2. Not Me*

                Separate but equal is not equal. The men going golfing with the managers and a manager and women only lunch is a ludicrous idea.

              3. Elaine*

                Separate rooms for everyone or all should in the same home/cabin.
                Separating lodging by gender increases the problem.

          2. Groove Bat*

            It takes a long time and a lot of practice to get even passably non-embarrassing at golf. That’s not something a couple of lessons can help with. Many people don’t have the time or bandwidth on weekends to devote to getting proficient enough. I, for one, would deeply resent that expectation.

        2. goducks*

          I think the fact that you’ve latched on to this as a solution on a couple of comments really shows the depth of the culture problem in your workplace. Fundamentally, you see nothing wrong with this golf trip, other than that some of the women don’t want to play, and you feel like you should find some token way to include them.
          The fact that you see this issue this way, and that it took until this year for you to even have women in the department speaks volumes about your culture and hiring practices. Did you ever consider that the reason so many of your sales staff are male and golfers is that you’re using a fair amount of bias in your hiring practices? I think if you really want to fix this, you need to give that some serious consideration.

            1. OP*

              One of the reasons I am “pro golf trip” is that golf is a common avenue where we can see and meet with customers. I played in a charity event this week where 100% of the participants were either our customers, or potential customers. That is not going to be the case at the bowling alley.

              So while I agree with a lot of what Allison said, I am definitely interested in continuing the trip if it could work, and work well for everyone involved. Bottom line is, for our sales team, if you play golf you are going to have an advantage in the marketplace. That is not our culture, that is our industry, or at least our industry in our region. So an event that encourages it doesn’t seem out of place, to me.

              1. goducks*

                This isn’t a sales event, though. It’s a reward. You continue to miss the point.

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  Exactly. If this is supposed to be an annual trip to reward sales members for great performance since they’re not eligible for the company bonus, why in the world would OP be clinging so hard to this when he knows there are at least a couple of sales members who wouldn’t view this as any sort of reward or perk? It’s tone deaf.

                2. JB (not in Houston)*

                  Exactly. OP, this trip isn’t training to allow your salespeople to network more effectively. If that’s what it was about, the company could just pay for golf lessons throughout the year. This is a perk in lieu of a bonus. You need to see the difference. On top of that, it’s a perk that includes bonding time with managers, so people who don’t participate, or who don’t participate in the same way, will not get that same type of face time with the people who have the authority to decide on the direction their careers take at that company. What you’re suggesting is not the fix for the company’s problem.

              2. Not Me*

                And do you really not see how that type of systemic gender bias in the industry has impacted women and your workforce?

              3. Fortitude Jones*

                So why can’t the sales members who want to golf to schmooze with clients do this on their own time? Why does this have to be the big trip that the group does to reward everyone’s performance?

              4. Bree*

                I know there are some fields where the kind of boys-club culture where golf is a huge bonding thing. But is it possible that – like your own team – your industry may also be diversifying, now or a few years down the road? If so, might be a good idea to get ahead of things a bit.

              5. Sunny*

                Then you really aren’t willing to see the issue for what it is (gender discrimination) and you’re not interested in fixing it to meet legal standards..

              6. Missy*

                Golf is a common event where you see and meet with customers. And it might also be something that the other employees do because there is so much of a culture in your workplace around it that people have just adopted it as “the answer”. And even if golf gives some sort of great advantage in your industry and area, that certainly doesn’t mean that everyone in the area golfs. Having a diversified sales team with different interests would almost certainly be better for the company than an office with nothing but golfers. As long as you have one or two salespeople at each charity tournament isn’t that enough? Wouldn’t having salespeople at other charity events (running, theater, volunteering) be a better plan?

                I wonder how many of your male employees truly love these golf outings and how many go along because of the feeling that it is a mandatory part of the culture and that they have to fake it to fit in? My parents are both in sales and both have worked in places where they have convinced their bosses that they LOVE the annual fishing trip/golf outing/gambling vacation/etc. when they actually would much rather be at home with the family.

              7. Psyche*

                Is the purpose of the trip to reward the sales staff or is it to force them to practice golfing? If the point is to have them practice golfing, be explicit about that and don’t try to pretend this is in lieu of a bonus. If it is a reward, pick something that will actually be a reward for everyone and not just some of the men.

                You can incentivize golfing outside of this trip. You can arrange a half day trip to the golf range. You can subsidize lessons for any sales staff that need them. Just be clear about why you are doing it and don’t try to combine it with the trip. Or don’t pretend that the trip is a reward.

              8. 200 Yard Drive*

                As a female sales leader and golfer, I support the OP and am surprised by the direction of the commentariat. Playing golf is an occupational hazard for sales professionals in many industries. I specifically learned to play golf as a young professional because I realized that not being able to play was going to lock me out of an enormous amount of professional opportunity with customers, within companies, and industries. I regularly play in charity tournaments, customer tournaments, industry golf events, and it is part of my job. The women need to learn to play golf to support their own professional advancement and opportunities, period.

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  No, there’s no “period” here. There are many other ways these women can advance their careers without having to fake enthusiasm for something they don’t give a shit about (I know a few women in sales that take clients out to dinners or other sporting events to observe), and you don’t get to dictate how they do that. If you learned because you felt like that was the best option for you at the time, that’s on you. Do you. But this trip isn’t a working trip, it’s being presented as a reward or “bonus” for the team since they can’t partake in the company’s bonus structure, so how is it a reward for these women and the men who sit out because they either don’t like, don’t want, or can’t play golf?

                2. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  Or we could stop supporting a sexist, racist, and classist activity as a necessary part of being successful in business.

                3. Micklak*

                  What if you had a disability that prevented you from playing? Would it be Ok to bar you from your entire industry because golf is a part of the job?

                4. Observer*

                  In addition to what the others have said, you are missing a point here.

                  What you are saying is that women need to learn to golf, and if they don’t they simply are not eligible to the same rewards as the men are regardless of their performance.

                  That simply doesn’t fly.

                5. EventPlannerGal*

                  But that is not what this trip is for. If this company feels the way you do about golf, they could provide subsidised golf lessons throughout the year as an ongoing practice. But this is not a sales event, it’s an internal bonus trip which does not *have* to be about golf.

                6. RWM*

                  And what about people who *can’t* golf because of disabilities or injuries? Do you expect them to just not have that be the case for the sake of their professional advancement and opportunities? Or are you just OK with whole classes of people being fully excluded from your industry?

                7. OP*

                  I agree. Lessons, regardless of the trip, seem like a net benefit for any sales rep in our industry.

                8. Not Me*

                  Do the people in wheelchairs need to learn to play golf to support their own professional advancement too?

                  Seriously, it’s not a man vs. woman question. It’s an inclusivity question. You’re really missing the entire point if you don’t understand that.

                9. Don't punish the people who keep the lights on*

                  Occupational hazards are not rewards. This trip is supposed to reward good salespeople.

                10. yala*

                  ” I specifically learned to play golf as a young professional because I realized that not being able to play was going to lock me out of an enormous amount of professional opportunity with customers, within companies, and industries.”

                  Yeah, that….that’s a problem.

                  That’s a deep problem with the culture that really needs to be changed.

              9. Observer*

                Why would you want to do that? If you want your staff to be able to take advantage of what gold offers, offer free lessons.

                But how does a golf related “retreat”, that ALSO has a lot of other problems related to gender, do anything whatsoever to encourage engagement with clients? With or without golf?

              10. RUKiddingMe*

                But it won’t work for everyone. It will work only for the males. This is not a sales event, it is a reward. Find a way to reward everyone equally without all the sexist BS. And unless your business *is* golf don’t try to pressure (and it will feel like pressure guaranteed) the women into taking golf lesson, free or otherwise.

              11. Zoey*

                Dumb question but are you in golf industry/ adjacent to golf industry related sales? Because other than that it seems really odd that there is SO MUCH business happening on a golf course. For those with physical issues that prevent them from golfing how do they cope in this business model?

              12. Not So NewReader*

                If this is the case then one of your hiring criteria should be “must play golf”.

                Maybe your bigger question is how does our company exclude women? Answer that and the answer to the golf question will fall into place.

              13. Lora*

                I’m curious as to what is your industry?

                I’ve worked on both sides (as both a customer and a vendor) of a very VERY male-dominated industry that is thought to be quite antiquated and old fashioned. I’ve been through the whole networking and meeting in strip clubs thing, even in the 21st century. On the vendor side of things, from vendors who had only worked on the customer side at one job, or from lifelong vendors, the sales guys would 100% assure me that they KNEW their customers and their customers liked XYZ, even though I had decades of experience as an actual living breathing customer at several organizations….and I knew for an absolute fact these guys were full of crap.

                Three of the sales guys who assured me customers actually liked XYZ had in fact been banned from customer sites by the customers’ own security staff, but somehow their assurances were given more weight than my actual lived experience (see: sexism).

                In real life, if you survey the big financial decision makers in my field and ask them what sort of weekend retreat they’d most like, they’d probably say skiing, winery tours or homebrewing first, and second would be yoga or robotics (they LOVE watching our robots move, I don’t know why), further down the ranking would be some sort of volunteer activity – teaching science and math to kids is popular. Even the older upper class guys would say skiing or winery tours, for sure. When I think of the C-levels in my industry, lots are in Switzerland or Germany, where skiing, wine tasting, snowshoeing and hiking are more of a thing than golf.

                Things are changing quite a bit. Probably worth doing a survey of options, really.

          1. Mia*

            Agreed. I live in a fairly conservative area and even here, it would be odd for a company to be 100% male until very recently.

              1. OP*

                Is it that strange? Talking small teams here… 6 and 4 people.

                Heavily dependent on the field though. Not sure the last time I saw a male dental hygienist.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yes, it’s strange. There are indeed fields that attract significantly more women than more men or vice versa (although that generally tends to be for reasons rooted in problematic biases as well), but sales isn’t one of them, certainly not the point that you could have gone years without women.

                  (And I have a male dental hygienist.)

                2. EH*

                  Yep, it’s strange. I’ve worked in heavily male and heavily female positions, and it was still considered weird to have a mono-gender team larger than 2-3 people.

                3. SaffyTaffy*

                  It’s really NOT dependent on the field, but on the individual company’s priorities. I do freelancing for small construction and chemical engineering firms and the sales teams I work with have always had at least 1 or 2 women, even on a team of 3 or 4. The only exception I can think of turned out to be a really bad company.

                4. OP*

                  I posted this below. Might need to be said again. Small teams, low turnover. In the last decade we have hired ~6 sales reps. 3 women in the last two years. 50% women in the last decade. The only three we are aware of in our two major cities.

                  I am trying. Change happens slowly.

                  We are leaving the the dental hygienists in the dust /s

                5. Lucy*

                  I work in a field which nationally has 90%+ men in one type of job and 90%+ women in another type of job. The only workplace I have ever encountered where either team was 100% one sex was where there was only one person in the team.

                  I should say that I read your letter in increasing horror. At one point I think my shrieks were audible only to dogs and cockroaches.

                6. DefinitelyAnon*

                  This reply is actually to Alison but we are out of nesting. Your comment, ” sales isn’t one of them, certainly not the point that you could have gone years without women.” is not true across all fields. My husband works in sales in a very specific technology field and I can assure you, not only is not strange to go years without women on your team, he has never had a women on his direct team in the past 10 years. When he has worked with women, which has been exceedingly rare, it is been a sales position, but not the type of position he has. While there may be all sorts of problematic biases that has led to a shortage of women in his particular field, it is certainly a much bigger issue to overcome than one his particular company can solve. It sounds as though OP is in a similar situation, although his specifics may differ. I’m sure this may be unfair of me, but I found your statement so dismissive, and not kind. There truly are industries within sales where this is absolutely true.

                7. DefinitelyAnon*

                  I wanted to add that when there have been women sales associates in the past–there has been one in the company for the entire territory. I know this is changing a little in some of the bigger companies, but not by as much as you might expect.

                8. RUKiddingMe*

                  It’s both strange and not at all representative of population ratio. There should be a roughly equal amount of women/males in any given job. Also my dental hygienist is a male.

                9. DefinitelyAnon*

                  @RUKiddingMe Except that actually isn’t the way most jobs are–nurses are overwhelmingly female, as are teachers, CEOs are mostly male, electrical/utility crews are mostly male, and while I personally have known quite a few female firefighters, only about 3% of firefighters are women. So there are many occupations which are very unequal.

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          OP, please look at the many comments made by people who would not be interested in learning to play golf for work events. It’s fine if you want to offer lessons for people who want them, but you really do need to think of other kinds of networking and social events as your company continues to grow. Golf cannot remain your company’s primary method of networking, period.

          1. OP*

            I should have clarified. This is not our only means of networking. We basically go wherever our customers go. We have corporate memberships to all the area museums, ballets and symphonies. We have season tickets to several local sporting events. We attend and offer our employees tickets to MANY charity and social events. We pay for our employees civic clubs dues.

            But historically the golf trip was the only “trip” type event we have put on specifically for our sales team.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              And that trip gives employees face time and networking opportunities within your own company in ways that free ballet tickets or museum passes don’t. If you’re planning a trip as a networking and bonding activity for your team, it’s a really bad idea to base that trip on an activity that not everyone on your team is able to participate in.

              Again, if golf really is that important to your industry, then offering lessons to your staff can be a really great idea. But as a reward or a team bonding experience, I think you should consider other possibilities.

              1. Hijos de Sanchez*

                it’s a really bad idea to base that trip on an activity that not everyone on your team is able to participate in.

                But OP is trying to find a way to ensure that everyone on the team is able to participate.

            2. RUKiddingMe*

              But not all of your sales team wants to do it. Let it go and find something else. Stop holding on to this like a dog with a bone. Find something else.

                1. Penny Parker*

                  A “little time”? It is 2019! Your time should be up by now. Stop supporting an exclusive activity — it is sexist, racist, and classist! Join the time period! I cannot count how many hundreds of thousands of times I have heard men make that statement, and they STILL have not caught up with the time period. Your exclusionary activity is way past time to be stopped.

                2. Elaine*

                  It’s good you’re actively seeking advice.

                  My grandparents (women AND men) all played golf, tennis, went ice skating, skied, and went ballroom dancing. It’s what all young adults in the upper Midwest who had any disposable income did. Most golf courses were public and affordable and still are where I’m from.

                  I am a corporate, professional woman and HATE shopping and would hate the idea of shopping while my colleagues were networking. Yikes!

            3. Detective Amy Santiago*

              These are the big takeaways I hope you will glean from this post:

              1. Providing golf lessons for any sales staff who is interested is a good idea since your salespeople are frequently invited to participate in golf outings with clients.
              2. The reward trip needs to be more inclusive and should not focus on golf or replaced with cash bonuses.
              3. Your organization may have some cultural issues surrounding hiring that are worth examining at a higher level.

              1. OP*

                Thank you. Hiring practices have improved dramatically in recent years. But culture isn’t as easy to change.

                1. mountainshadows299*

                  So… If, instead of hiring on half a team of women, you hired on half a team of men who simply didn’t like golf (or let’s say any sport) and were voicing dissension about having to golf for your annual “reward” trip, would we all be having this same conversation? Because my feeling is no based on the nature of your responses. (Though you clearly had that one dude who tolerated going with you all on your trips because he could drink beer and think about his life choices in the golf cart while fervently wishing he were somewhere else). They could all “choose” not to go, but then they are forfeiting their right to their “bonus” since your corporate structure doesn’t allow for anything but this reward trip. I mean… Since you can’t think of LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE that could be a reward, it saves the company money, amiright?

                2. OP*

                  Yea that is pretty accurate. Only reason we are here is that it is 100% of our female staff that don’t play.

                  But if a sizable group of our staff of any gender didn’t play, we would likely get to this point eventually.

                3. Lora*

                  “culture isn’t as easy to change.”

                  You are 100% wrong about this. The way that culture gets changed is, a new CEO comes in who doesn’t golf and announces that from now on the trip will be changed to an island cruise or whatever instead. Culture is set at the top, always.

                  This is why it’s so important for women managers to help the women lower in the hierarchy. Current head of my department is female, and we don’t do ANY of the traditionally male boys club things here that I’ve seen happen regularly at other companies. Why? Head of Department doesn’t enjoy it. She enjoys travel, so a lot of team building and networking things are planned for travel destinations.

            4. Creag an Tuire*

              We basically go wherever our customers go. We have corporate memberships to all the area museums, ballets and symphonies. We have season tickets to several local sporting events. We attend and offer our employees tickets to MANY charity and social events. We pay for our employees civic clubs dues.

              I feel like I have some alternatives to your golf trip right there.

              1. MCMonkeyBean*

                Yes, we just had our quarterly social yesterday and it was at a baseball game. It’s a great social in my opinion because you really don’t even have to care about baseball. They rent the “party deck” and give us catered lunch and we all eat and chat while the game goes on and some people can choose to pay more attention to the game if they really care to but most people are just chilling and socializing.

                And then everyone tends to leave our socials at like 2 or 3 so it’s nice to just get a couple of extra hours for yourself in the evening :)

            5. Ethyl*

              OP, you keep conflating clients inviting your sales team to go golfing with this golf trip. They are not the same thing, don’t have the same problems, and you can’t fix them the same way.

              1. DefinitelyAnon*

                But I think it’s fair to point out that in the past it wasn’t an issue, and was all kind of the same thing. People on his team golfed, they networked with clients by golfing, they liked to golf and hence, the reward trip was born. Now that there are members of the team who do not golf, this is more obvious that networking with clients and how to reward the members of your team are actually 2 separate things, but I can see how easy this was to overlook in the past.

        4. Oaktree*

          This is a terrible idea, unfortunately. There are all sorts of reasons why not; but among them is that some people physically cannot play sports (even golf). Don’t offer people golf lessons.

          Just let go of the golf thing already- it’s 2019; the boys’ club and its activities are going to have to change.

          1. Rose*

            That’s not the way the world in many places works Oaktree, but I appreciate the optimism.

            1. Oaktree*

              Huh? I’m fully aware that that’s “not the way the world works”; I’m a woman working in a corporate environment. My point is that OP needs to make changes because the world is what it is, and we should be working to make it less so. I hope that comes across to you not as optimism (because it should be obvious to anyone that it’s not) but rather as desire for change. Your condescension is neither necessary nor appreciated.

              1. Rose*

                I’m a woman working in a corporate environment too and to me saying ” the boys’ club and its activities are going to have to change” is optimistic. I’ve had my job 13 years and of course I have a desire to change things and some things I have gotten that change but your use of the words “have” has not been proven to be based in reality in my experience. They don’t HAVE to do jack sh*t unless someone is willing to sue.

          2. OP*

            Honestly. If we rule out ANY activity because some hypothetical person may not be able to do it…. I cant get on board with that.

            Obviously accommodations should be made, but why preemptively rule out options that may work for the whole team?

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              The problem with that is someone may not be entirely comfortable sharing why an activity does not work for them. Invisible disabilities are a thing that exist.

            2. Creag an Tuire*

              Honestly. If we rule out ANY activity because some hypothetical person may not be able to do it…. I cant get on board with that.

              How hard is it to just have a “retreat” at a resort, my dude?

              Most resorts can accommodate everyone including persons w/disabilities.

              1. PlainJane*

                I came here to suggest this. Plan a trip that can include a variety of activities, from golf to lounging by the pool, with enough unstructured time to accommodate a variety of interests. Have events during the trip that bring people together for networking – meals together, maybe happy hour. But make the trip and the destination as inclusive as you can, so everyone feels welcome and has fun. Otherwise, it’s not a reward – it’s yet another work obligation that reminds some people that they don’t fit in, and the brass don’t care.

              2. I AM a lawyer*

                That’s what my employer does. The firm books a resort. We do a small amount of training, the executives have a meeting, we have a bunch of free time on Saturday to stay at the resort and get a massage (company-funded) and hang out at the pool, or to go do any touristy things we want. Spouses/significant others and children are invited, and the company provides child care and activities during the two dinners (Friday and Saturday night). Some people organize to play tennis or golf but no one is expected to do either.

                1. Elaine*

                  Sounds kinda nice, but I really don’t want to be in a swimsuit at a work event, ever.
                  I’d prefer activities where clothes stay on. :)

              3. TacocaTRacecar*

                I’m late, so I doubt anyone will see this, but I’m genuinely curious: how would this resolve the issue of the men bonding together by subsequently all deciding to golf together, while the women either feel like they need to join or be left out?

                1. katelyn*

                  the key would be management not going golfing with the boys when there were other non-golfing activities. If it’s really a networking time then it’s management’s job to ensure everyone has an equal chance, and the easiest way to do that would be to shun the links this time and make it clear that the networking will be off the golf course going forward.

              4. Aitch Arr*


                My sales team’s annual Presidents’ Club (for the top performers each year) is always at a swanky resort that has plenty of options from swimming to spa treatments to outdoor sports (including golf! *gasp*). It’s also located in a fun, warm-weather city. The retreat also includes a cruise, a dinner, and some touristy excursions. Of COURSE they will plan some rounds of golf, but it’s not part of the ‘official’ itinerary.

                For what it’s worth, my sales team of 120 employees is 42% women. I work for a tech vendor.

            3. Batgirl*

              Any activity? I think the main issue is that golf is such a company tradition and so ingrained that EVERY other activity is ruled out by default. If it was just a day at a resort or a different general social activity each year, it would be more flexible to change and you could accommodate every future employee by being open to that change.

            4. Hijos de Sanchez*

              If we rule out ANY activity because some hypothetical person may not be able to do it…. I cant get on board with that.

              I fully agree with this. There are posters above who suggest things like hiking or rafting trips. Not everyone can do those things. (Wasn’t there a letter about someone who objected to going on a rafting trip.) Other posters were suggesting things like concerts. But some people are hard of hearing and may not enjoy a concert. Not all activities appeal to everyone all of the time.

            5. Not So NewReader*

              Why does there have to be a group activity? I feel I give enough time as it is and I don’t enjoy “mandatory fun”.

              People are asking have the women been surveyed about golfing. And I have to add, have the men been surveyed? Just because a person (male or female) is doing a particular activity does not mean they like it or they are having fun. How do you know if the person is answering truthfully or putting the down answer they think the company wants to hear? Is golfing truly a good use of company funds?

              Since this is a mandatory activity are their clubs and other equipment a business expense for tax purposes?

              1. Triplestep*

                This describes how I feel as well, and I do participate in “mandatory fun” because I think it’s good to mix with my co-workers on occasion, most of whom I genuinely like. I mentioned elsewhere that it’s likely not even all the men enjoy this event, but it’s so ingrained in the culture (to the point where OP said in the comments that actively NOT liking it would be a “red flag”) how can anyone go against it? OP also says the office is already buzzing about it six months in advance – well people don’t only buzz about things they like. They also buzz about things they dread.

            6. Vicky Austin*

              Because clearly golf isn’t an option that works for the entire team, or else you wouldn’t have written in the first place.

          3. DefinitelyAnon*

            I actually think it’s a great idea–it’s completely voluntary, a lot of their clients still ask OP’s team members to golf, and this way the company is proactively giving a hand to those who want to be included but didn’t have the opportunity to learn. This should not be tied in any way to the golf trip however. That needs to change to include everyone.

        5. Rose*

          Another woman who would love golf lessons so +1. In my field a lot of people play so it would be to my benefit even if I went to another job. You could do a surveymonkey with different options and people could vote anonymously.

        6. Observer*

          No, look into lessons for whoever wants as a SEPARATE benefit that is completely voluntary. Because that gives your salesforce a chance to learn something that could be useful to them as salespeople.

          But, you still need to change this up. There are just too many problems here. Yes, there is the history of golf, but it’s also the whole set up as well. It’s just not viable.

        7. RUKiddingMe*

          So your sales staff participates in golf events during working hours? Does this include women in sales or just the guys?

          1. OP*

            Although it has not included the women yet, that is through no policy of ours. If they were golfers they would have equal access… which is why the lessons strike me as a positive. These are invitations from outside the organization.

            We also don’t ever send non golfing males to play in these tournaments during work hours.

              1. OP*

                This same scenario can apply in a million different ways. Having the same interest as a client allows you to connect. Golf is one common area, there are others. It makes no sense to disallow the golfers from connecting with clients in that way because we also employ non-golfers.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  I am not sure all the different ways that sales people connect with their clients but why can’t one of those ways be the focus of a trip? Why does it always have to be golf? I bet there are plenty of clients who do not golf.

                2. RUKiddingMe*

                  Are there no other ways for clients to connect aside from golf?

                  That aside, we are talking about this trip here. It is a bad idea to have any activity that has the potential to exclude certain populations, legally protected populations I might add, in order to get a perk for only a certain group of people. Find something else.

        8. Anonyish*

          It sounds like offering your women (and other men who don’t play) sales staff the opportunity to learn golf entirely separately from this trip could be a benefit to them, since otherwise they are de facto being discriminated against by male coworkers being able to do this, but that’s separate from it being the reward trip.

      5. Sarah N*

        I totally agree with this! Golf is a great mixed gender sport, especially with how you have it set up so that it’s not super competitive/elite level required. This isn’t like expecting women to play tackle football with their male colleagues! Lessons would be a great opportunity to learn a skill and then they can participate in the networking opportunities going forward.

          1. OP*

            I disagree. Golf as an organization is very pro women participation. Most area courses have women preferred days, tournaments etc. It is one of the few sports you can enjoy if you are terrible or very talented… or anywhere in between.

            1. Washi*

              It seems like you have a very deeply felt love of golf that is getting in the way of seeing what folks are saying here. Can you replace it in your mind with like, water polo?

              Water polo could be fun even if you’re bad at it for some people. Others, on the other hand, have disabilities, or due to socioeconomic reasons didn’t learn how to swim, or don’t want to be That One Person who is really bad at water polo. And no amount of insisting that water polo is inclusive and everyone has access to it now will change the long history of who has and continues to enjoy it.

              1. Hijos de Sanchez*

                It seems like you have a very deeply felt love of golf that is getting in the way of seeing what folks are saying here.

                I think you mean “what some folks are saying here,” because you are ignoring and marginalizing the comments of people like me and SarahN and Rose who are looking for ways to make golf more inclusive. And I am not Anglo, by the way.

                OP, I think this blog is a valuable resource but Allison is not the be all and end all of everything. That’s extra true when it comes to any kind of company outing, which always gets killjoys complaining. Go with what you think is right. I applaud you for trying to make golf a more inclusive activity.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                “It seems like you have a very deeply felt love of golf that is getting in the way of seeing what folks are saying here.”

                Yes, this. And posters here are reacting to how entrenched this is, sort of a golf or die mentality. And this is the exact reason for the rebellion.

                It feels like people go to your company to golf primarily and to earn a paycheck as a distant second. I go to work to do actual work, not to improve my golf game.

            2. Fortitude Jones*

              But you’ve already indicated that at least some of your female coworkers don’t feel this way, so how can you say this with certainty?

            3. revueller*

              /Golf as an organization is very pro women participation/

              Ask your female employees if they feel that way. The answer may surprise you.

              1. EmKay*

                He won’t ask, and he wouldn’t listen to the answers if he did. This guy is clearly hellbent on keeping the golf trip and forcing everyone to participate or gtfo.

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  Remember the letter from the guy who wanted an all male trip to the beach or something. Wasn’t that about golf as well?

                2. OP*

                  That just isn’t true. I agree with Allison that this trip isn’t going to survive the near future.

                  But the very strong women against all things golf thing has surprised me. There are many women golfers at all of our local courses, so I guess I never saw it that way.

                3. Ethyl*

                  “But the very strong women against all things golf thing has surprised me.”

                  That’s because you aren’t reading or understanding clearly — it’s not “women against golf,” it’s “golf has historically been against women (and racial and religious minorities, and the poor, and the disabled….).”

                4. Not So NewReader*

                  @ Ethyl. Right on.
                  Golf excludes many groups of people from a historical perspective, but it also appears that it is excluding women in OP’s own company. If I had any interest in golf, these exclusions would stand alone to cure me from ever being interested in it.

                5. Elaine*

                  I think this might be a cultural thing. Where I grew up, public courses abounded and pretty much everyone (a generation ago) played golf, and tennis, and skiied, and skated, etc.
                  Of all socioeconomic classes.

            4. Lizzy May*

              You know why golf has all that pro women stuff? Because they shut women out for years and years and are now furiously playing catch-up. (Tell me how pro-women Augusta National is and when that started, for example) So you shouldn’t be surprised when women here are telling you that golf doesn’t feel inclusive to them and you should care about that.

              1. merp*

                Ugh I’m not trying to be unkind to the LW but this point is so so clear and important and I’m really getting a sense of willful ignorance from the insistence elsewhere that “women like golf, really!”

                1. Micklak*

                  Yeah, I appreciate the OP asking the question and taking part in the discussion, but as a person who isn’t interested in sports at all, it’s chilling to see the repeated claims that playing golf is a reasonable expectation for the industry and that women just need lessons to learn to enjoy it. It’s so clearly the people in power deciding what people should like and how they should behave. I’m surprised there hasn’t already been a lawsuit.

                2. Not Me*

                  There probably hasn’t been a lawsuit yet because they hadn’t hired any women yet. They’re getting closer to a lawsuit every day.

              2. Aleta*

                Hugely agreed. I’m a cyclist, and we have a lot of pro women stuff like that. Men coooonnnnnnnssstaaaantly bring it up whenever we try to talk about terrible things (sexist commentators, sexual assault, sidelining of women’s fields, even STOPPING WOMEN’S RACES BECAUSE THEY CAUGHT UP TO THE MEN), as if there are no problems because look! You have a field (that’s cats 1-5 all together) and a femme/trans/women day! Obviously there is no discrimination whatsoever and we’re completely equal.

              3. Hijos de Sanchez*

                Because they shut women out for years and years and are now furiously playing catch-up

                Just because you don’t like golf (as I said earlier I don’t love it even though I learned it) doesn’t mean you get to sideline the accomplishments of golfers like Nancy Lopez, who was a great role model for all Hispano/a athletes and female athletes, especially here in New Mexico. Even non-golfers admired her. And there are other professional golfers of color from New Mexico, like Notah Begay. Maybe some of your own stereotypes about what golfers look like are showing.

                1. Jasnah*

                  Lizzy May: Historically, golf has excluded women players and made it hard for women to play. Now golf is trying to compensate for that discrimination by promoting women in golf.

                  Hijos de Sanchez: Look at all these talented women in golf!

                  You’re literally proving the point. Just because female golfers exist or are talented doesn’t mean that the sport has not discriminated against them. Also golf is literally the keystone of the “good ol’ boys club” and has been a way for businesses to shut out and discriminate against women.

                  No one is saying women can’t or don’t play golf. OP is saying these women at his company don’t want to. Alison & commenters are saying that a men-only golf trip looks discriminatory, as does encouraging women to play in order to “keep up.”

            5. Natalie*

              “Golf as an organization is very pro women participation.”

              And yet a number of elite golf clubs didn’t invite their first female members until well into the 2000s.

            6. CR*

              It’s obvious you don’t actually want any advice and you just want to keep your precious golf trip without the inconvenient womenfolk ruining it.

              1. Middle School Teacher*

                This is completely right. OP, you wrote in because you want advice and, presumably, want to do the right thing. It was rightly pointed out to you that your organisation is going the right way for legal action. Does “but women love golf! Golf courses have women’s nights all the time!” sound like something that would convince a lawyer?

                1. OP*

                  Very helpful. Thank you.

                  My points about women and golf could be summed up like this. Golf is one of the few sports that equalizes every player ( through handicapped scoring). That allows anyone to play together and still enjoy the game. I know many women that plan, and regularly see many women playing. The women in my office happen to not play. I didn’t know there were such strong feelings about women being against golf. That is new to me.

                2. Captain S*

                  I am a woman who likes to badly play golf in my freetime and I would be massively insulted if I were expected to play with with coworkers as a “reward” – especially given that most of those coworkers are men.
                  The history of men + golf = networking = no women is not over-look-able and you’re perpetuating that culture.

                3. Richard Hershberger*

                  To my mind the issue is not golf itself, but that this event is a combination of fun retreat and networking with the big bosses. So if you want to do it right, you need to have some way that it serves both purposes. If you end up with an activity that some people don’t enjoy but do it anyway, you have failed. Why are they doing it anyway? For the networking. If you set it up so that everyone has fun, but only some get to network, you again have failed.

                  So what to do? Go to a resort with a variety of activities, and have the big bosses make sure to make themselves available for schmoozing in a variety of settings. If they are not on board with this, then this cannot work. The best you can hope for is that some people will smile as they grit their teeth. It would also mean that this is really for the big bosses’ benefit, giving them the opportunity to be schmoozed while doing what they consider fun.

                4. Middle School Teacher*

                  Replying to myself because of nesting limit.

                  OP, women aren’t against golf. There are lots of women who have commented here who play. I play. I used to SELL golf equipment (so, the best of both worlds!). The problem isn’t that women are anti-golf. The problem is that you have women who don’t (or can’t) play are it looks like your company is not even TRYING to level the field. The question isn’t “how do we get the chicks into golf”, it’s “how do we get everyone the same opportunities”.

                  I want to believe you have a good heart (you did write in, after all). But your suggestions in your letter were so awful and insulting. Give the women money and tell them to go shopping and have a fun time? Rent them a separate cabin? Were you just going to pat them on the head and tell them to run along and play while the menfolk Got Stuff Done?

                  As many (many) people have commented, you have two separate issues: the reward trip, and the business aspect. You really need to split them up to come to a solution.

                5. No golf for me*

                  Golf may equalize every player, but it does not equalize every person, as others have tried to explain. It has a history of exclusivity that informs the way a lot of people think about it.

                  For example, I am in my fifties and have never held nor swung a golf club, nor has my brother. Growing up, no one in our family played. Sure, today we can join the clubs our father and uncles were shut out of (we’re Jews) but can you see how to us golf might not be appealing and does not fee like a great equalizer? A lot of people see it the same way.

                6. Not So NewReader*

                  Well said, No Gulf for Me.

                  OP, what would it be like for you to sit there and know you HAD to do something at work that your parent, grandparent and great grandparent were not allowed to do? What if this one exclusion came with many, many other exclusions that marginalized and substantially injured your family? Would you still think this trip was fun, year after year after year…..

            7. Autumnheart*

              Golf course have women-preferred days and tournaments BECAUSE they used to be exclusive to men!

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Because government officials are watching and we now have reporting method SOPs.

            8. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Something to consider, OP, is that when a venue has a “ladies only” or “ladies preferred” event, that’s not generally a sign that they’re all that pro-woman on a day to day basis. They do these because of very low women’s participation on all the other days of the year.

              1. Washi*

                Yeah, is there “adult swim” at the pool because it’s mostly adults already, or because there are always a bajillion kids there? Same thing with golf.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                I see “ladies only or ladies preferred” and I pretty much figure it’s because of hoping to avoid legal issues that may or may not be there.

            9. Elysian*

              Someone once told me that GOLF was an acronym for “Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.” I have no idea if that has historical truth, but it does seem to be the way the “sport” is viewed for a lot of people.

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                99% of the time if something has been around since before 1900 or so, it is not an acronym. But it’s a very pointed folk etymology.

                1. Elysian*

                  Yeah, the person who told me that had a straight face and thought it was the truth – it was said as a way to discourage me from expressing interest in golf. I was being told it wasn’t my place. And there’s enough exclusionary history around golf that the idea that it would be the truth (and that people would easily believe it to be true) I think says all it needs to say.

              2. Malice Alice*

                That seems to be a backronym rather than fact, but there’s a reason that people looked at it like that.

            10. Observer*

              Really? Is that why one of your staff suggested being a “cart girl”? And that you have nothing else from the rest of the staff except for a suspicion that the woman might not go for that?

              Please pay attention to what you are being told. People here are trying to help you, but you need to be willing to listen to them AND your staff – what they say and what they DO NOT say.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                But, but all the silly girls at his work and on here…he’s trying so hard to mansplain to us how we’re (and they’re) just wrong.

                1. OP*

                  I am here looking for an alternative. The potential trip is 6 months away. Yes, in my mind an ideal solution would be find a way to make it work for everyone, but I recognize that is not likely.

                  This got weirdly hostile IMO.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It’s because further down you’ve been ignoring the loads of women telling you why this isn’t okay, and you’re ignoring the answer I gave you that you wrote in for (you certainly don’t have to take my advice, but you’re not really engaging with it in any meaningful way).

                  I appreciate your comment below noting that your heart is resistant to change, and that’s the piece that’s frustrating people here.

              2. RUKiddingMe*

                The whole “cart girl” thing keeps pissing me off…even all these hours later.

                The “cart girl” (grrrr at “girl”) would hand out beers and stuff…like a “helper/servant/assistant” instead of networking like an equal colleague.

                I feel the need to take a sledgehammer to a bunch of golf clubs right now.

                1. Quoth the Raven*

                  It rubs me the wrong way, too. Mostly because I have been in that position where I’m just there to be the “helper” in a way that feels absolutely condescending. And I’ve been brought along for events as the token woman who is treated like eye candy and I’m expected to play along because that’s the way it’s always been. It pisses me the hell off.

            11. EventPlannerGal*

              There is no “golf as an organisation”. Golf is a sport. There are organisations which play golf, which vary wildly in how they view women. At my local, world-famous golf club, I as a woman am not permitted on the premises.

              1. Camellia*

                Seriously? Not permitted on the premises? How do they justify/get away with that???? This makes me want to take up golf and move to your town and hire a lawyer…

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  Something-something members-only social club probably. It’s bullshit but it fits snugly within the established loopholes (how weird, right?!).

            12. Welcome to 2019*

              Why did you even ask for advice if you were going to mansplain all over any critique you got?

            13. Robm*

              That’s as maybe but this trip of yours is problematic.

              You’ve already spotted that it excludes women. We can add people with physical impairment to the list and (as some of the language around this makes your trip sound like boozy dudebros I’m afrai)d, people who might have religious or health reasons to avoid alcohol-fuelled events…

              I’m a “middle class” cishet male and I would rather gargle broken glass than play golf.

            14. RUKiddingMe*

              Not everyone likes or *is able to* participate…even males. This is a non inclusive, sexist, classist experience that is supposed to be a perk but it excluding members of your team. It has a long sexist history that any decent lawyer would be able to show a court when your company is sued into oblivion for discrimination based on a protected class (at least one). Find something else.

              1. Desperate for impact*

                “It has a long sexist history that any decent lawyer would be able to show a court when your company is sued into oblivion for discrimination based on a protected class (at least one). Find something else”

                Can you cite an example of where a company was held liable for the mere fact of holding a golf tournament, please? (I assume that should be easy for you, since companies hold golf events frequently and “any decent lawyer” working on contingency could make money by suing them “into oblivion.”)

                I would add that some of the “solutions” proffered by OP (separate shopping activities for women, “cart girls” etc.) would expose the company to liability. Any activities that are expressly segregated by sex are likely to do that. But I am exceedingly skeptical that holding an annual golf tournament, without more, would be actionable.

                If you tried to litigate the golf tournament, you would probably need to rely on a “disparate impact” analysis, i.e., that the racially neutral policy of inviting everyone to play nonetheless had an adverse impact on protected classes, such as women. But disparate impact analysis is very complex.

                First, you have to show that there is disparity; that “some golf clubs historically discriminated against women” doesn’t mean the entire sport is inherently suspect, despite what some people are arguing here., and the fact that three new hires dislike golf does not, itself, say “disparity” to me, because your sample size is too small. You also have to show that the impact is “significant” and that there is a causal link between the activity and the impact. I think those last two prongs would be particularly difficult to overcome.

                1. Desperate for impact*

                  Sorry for the double post. If the moderators would like to delete one, that is OK. The post I am replying to was the first draft, and the one below the version I intended to post. But they’re almost identical.

                2. RUKiddingMe*

                  No I cant cite anything. Also INAL. It seems to me though that any activity that woukd exclude certain populations, protected populations would create a hostile work environment. I mean a legally defined hostile work environment, not just people not getting along.

                  Even if we leave out the historic, and current sexism inherent in golf as a specific thing, there are other protected classes if people who can not participate in a sport, golf or otherwise who would lose out by not being able to participate.

                  Merely bring there as a helper (i.e. “cart girl) would not only not give them equal access but would also make them seem less professional, less serious, etc. ergo coloring management’s perception of them and potentially stifling their advancement.

                  Also, I’m not the only one here commenting that sees this, so yanno I think a judge, jury, the EEOC, et al. would likewise see that this kind if thing is ill advised st best and likely violates the law.

              2. Desperate for impact*

                “It has a long sexist history that any decent lawyer would be able to show a court when your company is sued into oblivion for discrimination based on a protected class (at least one). Find something else”

                Can you cite an example of where a company was held liable for the mere fact of holding a golf tournament, please? (I assume that should be easy for you, since companies hold golf events frequently and “any decent lawyer” working on contingency could make money by suing them “into oblivion.”)

                Now, some of the “solutions” proffered by OP (separate shopping activities for women, “cart girls” etc.) would expose the company to liability. Any activities that are expressly segregated by sex are likely to do that. But I am exceedingly skeptical that holding an annual golf tournament, without more, would be actionable.

                If you tried to litigate the golf tournament, you would need to rely on a “disparate impact” analysis, i.e., that the facially neutral policy of inviting everyone to play nonetheless had an adverse impact on protected classes, such as women. But disparate impact analysis is very complex, and it is not self-evident you would win.

                First, you have to show that there is disparity. That “some golf clubs historically discriminated against women” doesn’t mean the entire sport is inherently suspect, despite what some people are arguing here. That three new hires dislike golf does not, itself, equal “disparity,” because your sample size is too small to infer that all women dislike golf or are bad golfers.

                You also have to show that the impact is “significant” and that there is a causal link between the activity and the impact. I think those last two prongs would be particularly difficult to overcome. That is especially true because the company is explicitly encouraging women to join the tournament.

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  Regarding the (this particular one) sample size, I think that on a team of 10-15 with 3 of them being *one particular class* of people that the impact matters. If there are 15 and 3 are women, that’s 1/5…20% of the team negatively affected.

                  But you know what…forget sexism, ageism, classism, ableism, and any other ism. To be so married to doing *one particular thing* that it will exclude a not insignificant number of your staff/coworkers and to keep trying to make that one thing work when it clearly is problematic, instead of just evolving and accepting that this is how things are now and that *you have to think about the staff holistically… is just a shit thing to do. Full stop.

                  *the general “you”

                2. Desperate for impact*

                  “No I cant cite anything. Also INAL. It seems to me though that any activity that woukd exclude certain populations, protected populations would create a hostile work environment.”

                  1. This particular outing isn’t excluding anyone (except perhaps non-golfers, but those aren’t a protected class). At best, there was some brainstorming about giving the female employees some shopping vouchers. That idea was misguided, but never went beyond the brainstorming stage. Even “cart girl” originated the idea herself. There is every indication that That leaves us with:
                  2. You’re seriously going to say that a golf outing *to which everyone was invited* creates a hostile work environment?

                  To be clear, I’m speaking about the golf outing in isolation, here. They may be other examples of behavior that creates a hostile work environment at this company. I suppose if there were enough brainstorming of sexist ideas, that might create a hostile work environment (from the facts we have, this one instance isn’t remotely enough).

                  “there are other protected classes if people who can not participate in a sport, golf or otherwise who would lose out by not being able to participate.”

                  If you’re arguing that the basis of the lawsuit would be disability, in that some disabled people can’t participate in golf, you’re still back to the disparate impact analysis, and it’s unpersuasive for the reasons I suggest above. There’s also a rule of thumb called the “80% guideline” (meaning essentially that the disparate impact needs to cause selection rates to be less than 80% of the advantaged group), and I doubt the disability theory would pass that test.

                  Your theory would essentially prohibit every kind of team-building event that involves any kind of physical exertion, even a 5K charity walk. That is an absurd result and not the kind of activity that anti-discrimination law is intended to address.

                  “Merely bring there as a helper (i.e. “cart girl) would not only not give them equal access but would also make them seem less professional, less serious, etc. ergo coloring management’s perception of them and potentially stifling their advancement.”

                  Possibly, but I think most people have said that the cart-girl idea is a bad one. There’s also the problem that the woman in question (foolishly) volunteered to be a cart girl, and the question about whether a one-off instance like this would be sufficient to prevail in a lawsuit.

                  “Also, I’m not the only one here commenting that sees this, so yanno I think a judge, jury, the EEOC, et al. would likewise see that this kind if thing is ill advised st best and likely violates the law.”

                  Bear in mind that juries decide questions of fact, not law. Your theory seems to be to convince a lay jury to disregard the legal matters brought up above and that that there’s a vague problem with golfing in general. I suppose stranger things have happened, since juries are unpredictable. But your theory assumes that (1) you get past a directed verdict and actually get in front of a jury, (2) you survive a motion notwithstanding the verdict, and (3) you survive appeal, where there’s no jury and which focuses on legal questions, not questions of fact. The US legal system has filters in place that makes appeals to the gallery unlikely.

                  The EEOC , which is an administrative law body, is not going to see an annual golf tournament, without more, as problematic for the reasons I’ve already cited.

                  “Regarding the (this particular one) sample size, I think that on a team of 10-15 with 3 of them being *one particular class* of people that the impact matters. If there are 15 and 3 are women, that’s 1/5…20% of the team negatively affected.”

                  But if even one women were a golfer, that would change the statistic drastically. That’s the point of sample size. To quote from the DOJ’s guide on Section VII disparate impact: “courts are comfortable rejecting particularly small disparities, or those based on very small sample sizes, without explaining the mathematical basis for their conclusions.” DOJ cites one sex discrimination case, Stout, where if even one more female applicant had received an interview, the percentage of women interviewed would have exceeded that of men, and the court therefore did not find disparate impact.

                  The reality is that golf tournaments are ubiquitous in corporate America. If holding a golf tournament were such low-hanging fruit, the plantiffs’ bar would already have targeted golf tournaments. Disliking golf, even for reasons relating to civil rights matters, is not a legal cause of action.

                  I respectfully suggest that if you are not a lawyer — or that if at the very least you cannot debate the issue using legal discourse (i.e., you need to cite actual statues/regulations/caselaw and apply them, rather than saying “a lot of posters agree with me”) — you are not in a position to tell OP that his company faces legal exposure merely for hosting a golf tournament.

                3. Desperate for impact*

                  “No I cant cite anything. Also INAL. It seems to me though that any activity that woukd exclude certain populations, protected populations would create a hostile work environment.”

                  1. This particular outing isn’t excluding anyone (except perhaps non-golfers, but those aren’t a protected class). At best, there was some brainstorming about giving the female employees some shopping vouchers. That idea was misguided, but never went beyond the brainstorming stage. Even “cart girl” originated the idea herself. There is every indication that That leaves us with:
                  2. You’re seriously going to say that a golf outing *to which everyone was invited* creates a hostile work environment?

                  To be clear, I’m speaking about the golf outing in isolation, here. They may be other examples of behavior that creates a hostile work environment at this company. I suppose if there were enough brainstorming of sexist ideas, that might create a hostile work environment (from the facts we have, this one instance isn’t remotely enough).

                  “there are other protected classes if people who can not participate in a sport, golf or otherwise who would lose out by not being able to participate.”

                  If you’re arguing that the basis of the lawsuit would be disability, in that some disabled people can’t participate in golf, you’re still back to the disparate impact analysis, and it’s unpersuasive for the reasons I suggest above. There’s also a rule of thumb called the “80% guideline” (meaning essentially that the disparate impact needs to cause selection rates to be less than 80% of the advantaged group), and I doubt the disability theory would pass that test.

                  Your theory would essentially prohibit every kind of team-building event that involves any kind of physical exertion, even a 5K charity walk. That is an absurd result and not the kind of activity that anti-discrimination law is intended to address.

                  “Merely bring there as a helper (i.e. “cart girl) would not only not give them equal access but would also make them seem less professional, less serious, etc. ergo coloring management’s perception of them and potentially stifling their advancement.”

                  Possibly, but I think most people have said that the cart-girl idea is a bad one. There’s also the problem that the woman in question (foolishly) volunteered to be a cart girl, and the question about whether a one-off instance like this would be sufficient to prevail in a lawsuit.

                  “Also, I’m not the only one here commenting that sees this, so yanno I think a judge, jury, the EEOC, et al. would likewise see that this kind if thing is ill advised st best and likely violates the law.”

                  Bear in mind that juries decide questions of fact, not law. Your theory seems to be to convince a lay jury to disregard the legal matters brought up above and that that there’s a vague problem with golfing in general. I suppose stranger things have happened, since juries are unpredictable. But your theory assumes that (1) you get past a directed verdict and actually get in front of a jury, (2) you survive a motion notwithstanding the verdict, and (3) you survive appeal, where there’s no jury and which focuses on legal questions, not questions of fact. The US legal system has filters in place that makes appeals to the gallery unlikely.

                  The EEOC , which is an administrative law body, is not going to see an annual golf tournament, without more, as problematic for the reasons I’ve already cited.

                  “Regarding the (this particular one) sample size, I think that on a team of 10-15 with 3 of them being *one particular class* of people that the impact matters. If there are 15 and 3 are women, that’s 1/5…20% of the team negatively affected.”

                  But if even one women were a golfer, that would change the statistic drastically. That’s the point of sample size. To quote from the DOJ’s guide on Section VII disparate impact: “courts are comfortable rejecting particularly small disparities, or those based on very small sample sizes, without explaining the mathematical basis for their conclusions.” DOJ cites one sex discrimination case, Stout, where if even one more female applicant had received an interview, the percentage of women interviewed would have exceeded that of men, and the court therefore did not find disparate impact.

                  The reality is that golf tournaments are ubiquitous in corporate America. If holding a golf tournament were such low-hanging fruit for discrimination claims, the plantiffs’ bar would already have targeted golf tournaments. Disliking golf, even for reasons relating to civil rights matters, is not a legal cause of action.

                  I respectfully suggest that if you are not a lawyer — or that if at the very least you cannot debate the issue using legal discourse (i.e., you need to cite actual statues/regulations/caselaw and apply them, rather than saying “a lot of posters agree with me”) — you are not in a position to tell OP that his company faces legal exposure merely for hosting a golf tournament.

                4. Desperate for impact*

                  I apologize again for the double post. I think something is wrong with my browser.

            15. Jules the 3rd*

              You realize you’re talking about the game where the elite US club didn’t allow women members until 2012, right? Augusta wouldn’t have allowed women even then if IBM hadn’t gotten a female CEO and threatened them in their pocketbook.

              Step back and take a breath, because golf is not friendly to women and minorities. You really have to start from that position, and look at what *is* friendly to them.

              1. Elaine*

                Is this a regional thing in the U.S. I wonder?

                Because in Minnesota/Wisconsin women have equally participated in golf since at least the 1940s. Most courses are/were public though. My grandma and her friends all golfed, played tennis, danced, worked, etc. equally with their men colleagues.

      6. Hummer on the Hill*

        And… what if the company hired someone who needed a wheelchair to get around? How would they participate in this networking and social club? It’s very 1950s, and it needs to be abolished.

      7. Sally Forth*

        This happened to me… in the EIGHTIES! I can’t believe it is still happening. Only 4 of 25 reps in my branch were women. To make it worse, those who didn’t go on the golf weekend had to handle phone calls for the reps who went.
        I am a decent golfer and my husband and I took a new female sales rep out with her husband and taught them technique and etiquette. Then when the details came out for the weekend, we signed up. Surprisingly, it was the younger reps who were asses about it. The older ones had wives in the workforce and were all for us going.
        Golf went well, the younger reps were passed out in bed by 9, and I cleaned up at poker.

    2. CR*

      Only if they actually wanted to learn to play. I don’t golf and if my only option on a work trip was being forced into lessons for a sport I hate, I would rather stay home.

      1. StillWorkingOnACleverName*

        Same. I’d turn down that option in a heartbeat. I have zero interest in golf.

        1. Rose*

          but do you work in an industry that 90% of the people in it play golf? I do, and that makes my interest go up. Just like if all my clients wanted me to use a specific type of software, I would learn it. Obviously it is sexist and has a hugely sexist history, but one person (me) isn’t going to change the situation.

            1. Rose*

              You not getting it is boggling mine. The OP just posted in a reply that their clients often invite staff who play golf to events too. Obviously they’re not going to tell a client “golf doesn’t work for us, figure out something else.” No, the people who play golf will go and those that don’t won’t. As I said, YES it’s hugely sexist, doesn’t change that it’s still very much A Thing.

              1. Anancy*

                It’s the same where I live Rose. Golf is A Thing, and it honestly is one of the easier ways here for women to network.

          1. Lilac*

            I work in an industry where all the engineers get invited to golf events multiple times during the year, and most women end up just working at the office because THEY ARE NOT INVITED. Golf is still a stupidly sexist sport that has huge division between who goes and who doesn’t, especially in the business world.

          2. SarahTheEntwife*

            But you’re using the software for whatever you’re producing for your clients, yes? Then it’s (often) reasonable for them to request that you use specific platforms. This is more like saying that because so many of your clients enjoy Nintendo products, you should become conversant in them as well so that you can join in their gaming tournaments.

            1. Rose*

              SarahTheEntwife – which would be a smart thing to do, no? Learning the Nintendo in your example?

          3. ChimericalOne*

            There’s a difference between learning something for the sake of improvement with clients and learning something so that your boss can say that you’re being “rewarded” when you are gifted with a trip to do that thing. I’d be extremely frustrated, personally, if my company insisted that a golfing trip was my “bonus” when it was in no way a reward to me. I’d be happy to take lessons & practice to be better at my job, but I’d be pretty resentful if it was then made into my “reward,” too.

            OP should put out a survey with a bunch of options. Make it anonymous. Tell folks you’ve decided to mix things up and have them rank their choices. Don’t blame the women or make them say something publicly if they want to be heard. Find out what folks want to do instead and do that. (Making sure that it’s not equally disliked by all the women, of course… Don’t pivot from golf just to go to a strip club, instead!) Problem solved.

            Here’s some ideas: Visit a National Forest. Visit a “destination city” and book a tour for the team. (Water tours in particular are great, if you’re near a body of water that’s amenable to such; e.g., Chicago, Baltimore, etc.) Take a trip to an amusement park. (Harley Davidson used to do trips to Hershey Park for its employees when I was growing up — besides the rides, they have food, games, & shows.) Do one of those new “escape rooms.” There are lots of things you could do that people would be equally excited about (and some would be more excited about!) that aren’t exclusionary in intent OR effect.

            OP, you clearly enjoy golf. The men on the team do, too — at least some of them probably do. Some are probably faking it to fit in or please their bosses, too. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find something else fun to do that will be a reward for everyone. The activity doesn’t have to be even slightly work-related to be justified. Most rewards are not.

            1. Camellia*

              But the survey could not include golf because it sounds like the majority of men would vote for that and then it would be ‘all good because this was democratic and the majority won!’.

              1. ChimericalOne*

                It could include golf. That way you’d know for sure if the women did or didn’t actually want to go golfing. The mechanism for picking the winner, however, would have to include throwing out any options that women (or any other minority group) universally panned, rather than relying on simple democracy.

                So, if they do a ranking system, maybe anything that was in the lower 50% for all the women would be tossed before checking for the top pick of the remaining activities, for example. Or if people were just asked to choose their top 3-4 favorites, pitch out anything that was chosen by zero women.

            2. Rose*

              Yes, I’ve said do a surveymonkey survey, there are a lot of non-golf options here.

          4. RUKiddingMe*

            If everyone took the same stance, one person isn’t going to change things (mostly no kidding) then nothing would ever change. However history is rife with one person making a huge difference. MLK for example. He didn’t do stuff alone, but him being him got others to wake up, stand up, and fight. So yeah go on…you do you, but don’t think that one person can’t change things.

          5. Jules the 3rd*

            I work in an industry where golf would improve my networking and career opportunities, and no, I am not willing to play / learn to play. I have a life, limited time, and team / organized sports are not anything I’m interested in. (I bike / swim for exercise)

            I’d rather learn actual work related skills, like Python.

      2. Wing Leader*

        Same for me, CR. No interest in golf, and I don’t care to learn. Honestly, that would seem a tad patronizing to me.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          It’s very patronizing. I’m with Alison on this one – why should women have to learn a sport to be able to get the same opportunities for networking as the men? What if you’re a woman with an invisible disability (or even a visible one) that physically can’t participate – sucks for you, I guess?

          They just need to find another activity everyone can reasonably enjoy and participate in. I left a job a year and a half ago because of something very similar. I was in a division that only ever seemed to want to drink or do sports-related things, neither of which I’m a big fan of (I only drink socially once in a blue moon – family history of alcoholism), and anyone who didn’t partake in those things just didn’t move up no matter how good they were at their jobs. It was annoying, and I definitely called them out on that mess in my exit interview. Making people feel unwelcome and like they don’t belong is a really shitty thing to do to employee morale.

          1. Hijos de Sanchez*

            why should women have to learn a sport to be able to get the same opportunities for networking as the men?

            For the same reason men learn the sport.

            1. Actual Australian*

              Could you provide a sport that men learn to be able to network with women?

              1. Pixx*

                Imagine the outrage and temper tantrums that would ensue if men were told they had to participate in weekly knitting circles to network. And the yearly reward was a knit-a-thon.

      3. Amethystmoon*

        I’ve tried mini golf before and was pretty terrible at it, so it stands to reason I’d be terrible at regular golf. I would absolutely have no desire to participate, but it’s not really because of gender. Women golfers do exist, and some are very good at it. Personally though, I’d much rather play a chess game then a golf game.

        1. Cascadian*

          Mini golf might be a fun substitute for their current practices though. It’s golf-adjacent and supposed to be a bit silly, so everyone would be on more of an equal playing field.

      4. cmcinnyc*

        I think it’s a good option for the phase-out plan, though. The company will be offering something to all (there’s a guy that doesn’t golf, some of the golfers might love some instruction on improving, so it wouldn’t necessarily just be the three women taking a class). That gives the company something to do this year that is making a good-faith inclusion effort, and a whole year to come up with something for next year that doesn’t involve golf.

      5. Cercis*

        I look at golf like I look at bottled water – an environmental nightmare that can only be slightly mitigated. I would probably not choose to work for a place that sponsored a lot of golf stuff, but if it were my only choice of work places (which isn’t unheard of, sometimes there are only a few openings each year) of course I’d choose a paycheck over no paycheck. But while there, I’d avoid all golf crap as much as possible.

      6. Dust Bunny*

        Dear god, this.

        I love horses. Let’s go horseback riding. Never mind all the people on your sales team that might be allergic, out of shape, have bad back/sciatica/etc., be terrified of horses, not own appropriate clothing, etc.

        Things that might be described as sports are generally not good team events, and are definitely not good “rewards”.

        1. MrsCHX*

          Or the ski trips! (hint: skiing is white, very white) It’s meant to exclude while looking super innocuous.

          1. Ico*

            The purpose of snow sports is not to exclude. The fact that most of the people I know that enjoy them are white or East Asian is probably because the countries where those people tend to hail from are also the countries that get a lot of snow. It’s not a conspiracy.

          2. Elaine*

            In the Army, people who grew up where there wasn’t snow totally joined in trips the the Alps. They seemed to love learning, as did I (didn’t have money to downhill ski).

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            I have a massive horse phobia. No way no how would that ever be a reward to me.

        2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          I was thinking horses. I would adore trail riding but I understand others do not. Why not jumping or eventing? There’s a sport!

      7. Kesnit*

        I find golf even more boring than baseball. I played putt-putt at the beach when I was a kid, but that is the extent of my interest in golf.

        I am very surprised that you have only had 1 man object to this golf outing in the past. I wonder if there have been others who really don’t want to go, but don’t feel they can say no.

        1. Batgirl*

          The non golfing guys who ‘watch and drink beer’ should have inspired sympathy and diverse activity years ago. That’s not even an inclusion thing….it’s basic hosting manners.

        2. yala*

          Y’know, I bet a little mini-golf (as part of a larger event) might be fun. Golf is emphatically not my thing, but put-put is just chill, goofy fun and you can do a lot of chatting and socializing during it.

    3. Justme, The OG*

      That would be a hard pass for me. This group may have tried and hate it. Or have no desire to learn.

    4. Alucius*

      I mean, you could, but that doesn’t really address the issue if the employees in question don’t want lessons, or are only doing it because they’re afraid to be perceived as “poor sports.”

      Another thing about golf is that it’s really easy to feel that you could embarrass yourself by swinging and missing, sending the ball straight sideways, especially for rank beginners. If you’ve have women breaking into a traditionally male part of this company, they may REALLY not want to engage in an activity in which they are not competent. A bad male golfer might find it easier to laugh off, while a new female golfer might see this as yet another hurdle to being taken seriously.

      1. AMPG*

        Just wanted to second this – my (male) boss and a (male) peer want me to join their foursome for a charity golf event. I’ve never golfed in my life, and they keep insisting that’s not a problem. But I’m the only woman at my senior rank in the company, and I don’t think they have any idea how much I don’t want to look foolish at an activity like this. And of course I also don’t want to have to spell it out for them.

        1. BadWolf*

          Or for them to all crowd around and “help” you — or god forbid, trying to physically help you do the swing.

          1. Sleepless*

            Oh, my, yes. I’m not a sports person. I’m particularly bad at volleyball, and that seems to be a common activity at big gatherings. I try my best not to play, but sometimes I get railroaded into it. At first, everybody chuckles at my badness. Then they laugh in greater amazement as they see just how bad I am. And then at some point the game stops while a well-meaning person comes over and tries to teach me how to hit the ball. Nope. Go away. I’m sitting back down now, as I was doing in the first place.

            1. AnonEMoose*

              I’m not big on sports in general, but I have a particular hatred for volleyball. Largely thanks to my experiences in phy ed class back in high school. Anyone who tried to railroad me into playing…let’s just say this would not end well…for them.

              Basically, I don’t like the ball coming down at me from above (or as I see it, flying at my face). Back in high school, I was somewhat serious about my participation in orchestra and playing piano…I did NOT want injuries to my hands/fingers. Especially not injuries caused by something I not only didn’t care about, but actively disliked.

              I don’t really do music anymore, but the loathing for volleyball in particular persists. Not a big fan of playing sports that involve circular objects of varying degrees of solidity traveling at significant velocity in general, really. But volleyball is definitely a hard pass.

              Badminton – that I’ll do. I still suck at it, but I’ll play. Because I get to use a racket, rather than my hands, and the birds are a lot less likely to hurt if they do hit me.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Badminton…that was my sport. I was pretty good at it back in the day. My other sport was reading. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          2. Jadelyn*

            I literally physically flinched reading that. I could just so easily see that happening, and how do you get out of that without it being awkward as hell? Newp.

            Maybe it’s my own biases (my dad was hugely into golf) but I just absolutely hate golf and golf culture and everything it stands for. There’s just something so wildly…good-ol-boys-club about the whole vibe around it, and it has this level of unquestioned acceptance that honestly kinda baffles me.

            Like, can you imagine if a company with majority-female leadership held impromptu/unofficial business chats at a nail salon or something else stereotyped as feminine that way? Would anyone suggest that a male employee just suck it up and get his nails painted for the sake of being included in an event the other staff enjoy?

            1. Creed Bratton*

              THIS! It’s so helpful to flip things around: if it don’t sound right for one gender it ain’t right for another…regardless of tradition!

            2. Spencer Hastings*

              They sure wouldn’t…even though sitting around and getting your nails painted is much easier and, unlike playing a sport, not physically impossible or medically contraindicated for anyone (I think)!

                1. Socks*

                  Can’t that be accommodated pretty easily though? By moving around periodically? Vs. golf, which just straight up doesn’t work, with or without accommodations, if you have problems with the physical motions, a severe grass allergy, etc.

                  People with different types of sensory issues might not be able to have/enjoy a manicure or pedicure, I guess, like if they aren’t into people touching them, or if they’re sensitive to the smell of the nail polish. Nothing’s gonna work for everyone. But in general, I think sports might be more prone to being exclusionary than other activities, and are therefore a terrible choice for a mandatory work event.

                2. Kelly L.*

                  @Socks, no, I think the idea is to keep the nail bare so you can see if the skin underneath becomes discolored.

                3. Socks*

                  @Kelly L. Ohhhhhhhh I wasn’t thinking about that, but, yeah, you can not get polish put on, or just get a clear coat which I think might still be fine, so it’s still actually a pretty decent option. I mean, I’m not suggesting it as a replacement for OP, but, like, in general, I’m just kind of jazzed at realizing how inclusive nail salons are as an activity. I think that’s neat.

                4. nonegiven*

                  I thought it was risking cutting the skin on an appendage in a non medical setting.

                5. Ego Chamber*

                  @nonegiven | Yeah, my doctor’s concerns have always been about getting cuts on my feet/toes that could lead to infection. (I’m also not supposed to wear any kind of sandals or open-toed shoes or go barefoot ever or use a pumice stone on my feet but I do that last one because I ‘m a risk-taker.)

                  I’ve never been told not to paint my finger- or toenails, just no aggressive filing/clipping/etc.

              1. JHunz*

                I imagine the people we’ve talked about here with scent sensitivities would have a pretty bad time at a nail salon

                1. Quandong*

                  Yes! I’m one of those people who can get a headache from just breathing while walking past a nail salon.

            3. Socks*

              I dunno, at nail salons you can generally get a manicure without the paint, where they just massage your hands and clean up your cuticles and stuff. It’s very chill, even for men- and my mom did this when she was a sign language interpreter, and couldn’t have visible polish on her nails. A job-sponsored trip to get mani/pedis actually sounds really nice… In order for it to be the same kind of situation, it would need to be something that the men could fail miserably at, in addition to being historically unwelcome to men- doing each other’s hair, perhaps? Makeup… something?

              OP, trade off years! This year, mandatory golf trip. Next year, mandatory trip to Sephora before retiring to a cabin to braid each other’s hair. This is a very serious and no way stupid solution to your problem.

              1. Longtime Lurker*

                Okay, I nearly fell out of my chair at the mental image of business people braiding each other’s hair.

            4. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I wouldn’t say a male employee should go and get their nails painted, but I would say yes the male employee should suck it up and go to the nail salon. A lot of the networking happens from being in the same space and having time to talk. That can be achieved without having your nails painted.

              I say this as a cis hetro male who went to a nail salon for mani/pedis the morning of his wedding with his groomsmen. About half of the groomsmen actually got mani/pedis with me, a few did not but they still came to the salon to hangout/talk this was completely fine, one choose to not attend at all while I was disappointed they didn’t come hang out it was fine as well.

              I get social event is different from a workplace event but with 17 people it is going to be difficult to find a single activity that everyone will enjoy.

              In theory I know how to play golf but I am terrible at it and not really interested. I have friends who are pretty good, sometimes when we get together with they want to play golf. So I usually ride in the cart talking/joking/having fun I get the social experience of “playing” golf with out having to put in the “physical” effort of playing.

              1. ChimericalOne*

                Well, if you really want to find something that everyone enjoys, your best best is to rotate events. Do something out in the countryside one year, do something urban the next. Do something family-friendly one year, do something a little more upscale the next. Etc.

                The nail salon is mentioned as an example of an activity that’s heavily coded as female, but it’s not a perfect parallel. Firstly, you can’t really have a perfect parallel when you’re talking this kind of power differential — men have never been excluded from consequential meetings by the door of a nail salon. Secondly, though, getting your nails done isn’t really something you can fail publicly at the way you can with sports. A better example for that might be something like knitting, crochet, embroidery, etc., where you’re expected to produce some kind of finished product and it’s obvious if you’ve done rather poorly at it. And if you choose not to knit, you’re expected to run and fetch yarn, get everyone coffee, and generally just sit on the sidelines while everyone else bonds over shared challenges and admiring each other’s work. (And, every year, watching those people get promoted over you because of those bonds…)

                I don’t know if it’s even imaginable if you’ve never been there. But if you can’t imagine it, please trust the folks who’ve lived it.

                1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  I definitely agree when it comes historical power imbalances between male/females and race it is impossible to create a perfect parallel. But I think the issue has been the lack of access to women and other minorities not the activity (yes some activities such as strip clubs are problematic in and of themselves). If the company hosted ice cream socials or another activity you want to substitute that were for white able bodied men only, I don’t think the issue would be the ice cream social but rather the fact that certain groups were excluded. Golf was/is used as a gatekeeper but it could have been bowling and the issue would remain.

                  With that said I do think rotating the annual retreat is a great idea, you can’t please everyone at once, but you can please people on a rotating basis.

        2. Ashley*

          As a female in a male field I have made a rule of only playing in scrambles. This takes the pressure off of being good. I also hate to say it but for networking it was worth biting the bullet for a cheapish set of clubs. Thankfully I had a female friend who liked to golf and she and I would go out for fun to get me into enough shape where I made contact with the ball. I still avoid it whenever possible but sometimes the networking makes it worth it.

          1. Micklak*

            I think it’s unfortunate, but OK, to make that decision as an individual. but work events aren’t individual decisions. This weekend is setting up a no-win situation for some of the employees.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yeah, there is a big difference between an employee looking around at the office culture and thinking “well this is a bummer but I guess it’s in my best interest to do this” versus and employER looking around and thinking “this isn’t working for everyone but it’s in their best interest to get over it and fall in line.” ESPECIALLY if the trip is supposed to be a *reward* and not some mandatory networking event. Honestly as soon as there was one person on the team not into golfing they should have changed this.

      2. Emily*


        If I, a woman who doesn’t play golf, were a part of this company, I might reluctantly accept the offer of lessons/golfing trip – but the whole thing would be a source of dread rather than excitement. Not only would I be afraid of embarrassing myself (even if my coworkers were all friendly about it, it’s not that fun to be really bad at something), I would also feel like I needed to act like I was having a good time even if I was bored or frustrated.

        I feel like the offer of lessons might be well-received by some, but could also make it harder for disinterested people to bow out without fear of being perceived as a party pooper.

      3. CheeryO*

        YES to your second point. We have an annual charity golf outing at my agency. Until very recently, all of the participants were men, even though it’s open to everyone. Last year, a couple women decided to sign up, and I heard oh-so-hilarious stories about how terrible they were from multiple people. Well, guess what, we’re back to 100 percent male participation this year, because people couldn’t help but be jerks about a charity golf outing.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Wow, this is the exact example of what OP’s company should avoid. Also I’m not a lawyer or golfer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a gender discrimination suit coming.

        2. TechWorker*

          That’s so shit – also because I bet the worst men are also terrible but that’s not news because they’re men.

    5. Gaia*

      A decent option, but you still want to be careful that the women aren’t still missing out on the networking opportunities. Golfing is one of those things that historically has been used to solidify relationships between men and exclude women.

      Tread lightly here.

    6. Lizzy May*

      One of the real, unspoken, perks of the trip is facetime with management and with the owners. You won’t get that if you’re off on the driving range or practice green with a golf pro. The lessons will still cause the women to be separate and miss out on one of the reasons for the trip.

      1. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

        I audibly gasped when I read the first option: “Providing a separate cabin for the women, and offering them money (equivalent to the golf package spent on the men) to take a day trip and eat/shop/day trip in a nearby major destination city while the men are golfing.” — seriously, just no. And separate Lady Lessons is no better. Zero. None.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yeah, same. Not that I think OP meant it this way, but it came off to me like, “We have to pretend to include the girls…hmm…girls like to shop, right? So we’ll send them on a shopping trip while us boys hit the links! That’s separate but equal, which is okay, right?”

          Not all women like to shop, any more than all men like to golf. Segregating activities based on gender honestly makes the whole thing worse.

          1. OP*

            The intention was to provide a more appealing option, with real benefits like time in a beautiful place with some extra cash that you didn’t have before you got there. That is all. There are a lot of commenters here expressing a distinct distaste for the sport, I assume they would rather the cash option if it were offered.

            1. Kesnit*

              It’s sexist stereotyping, which is the issue. Not all women like to shop. Not all women want to shop at the same places. Not all women want to spend the same amount of time at any given shop.

            2. Lizzy May*

              I would rather have the same face time with my boss as my peers. Some money for a weekend is not as valuable as the money I’d get thanks to raises and promotions.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Except you’re in sales, which is commission-based and has no raises or promotions. It sounds like the most you’d get at this company is another chance to attend the golf trip, which is a timesuck that translates into no additional cash.

                Personally, I’d be angling for a bonus structure in sales. The only reason not to do it is because the CEOs want this company-funded golf trip and are using “rewarding sales” as a pretense to make it look slightly less shitty that they go on this expensive trip every year.

            3. Sunny*

              Can you please open your eyes and see this trip for what it is: a gender-based reward that excludes 3 members of your team? Doesn’t matter that the women could take lessons (patronizing) or get cash (same). IT EXCLUDES THEM. That’s the problem.

            4. revueller*

              Cash doesn’t replace a lost networking opportunity, which is what the golf trip is for your female employees.

            5. Librarian of SHIELD*

              But the point is that the people who are playing golf are getting bonding time with managers that the people not playing golf are not getting.

              I’m not interested in golf. I would not want the whole office to go on a bonding trip without me, even if I was getting extra money or a “separate but equal” style trip. I want equal opportunity for management to get to know and like me. When you put the women in a separate lodging and assign them separate activities during the day, they’re not getting the same benefits from the trip that the men are getting. This is sexism and you should not do it.

            6. Rose*

              OP, how about minigolf and a day at some place like Boomers? http://www.boomersparks.com/ As the interim year event? You’ll never please everyone but do a survey for feedback and go from there. At golf events I’ve been to there was a putting competition that I did even though I suck at golf.

            7. Lily in NYC*

              It’s not about golf. It’s about trying to make this “separate but equal”. How would you enjoy it if you worked for a fashion company and all of the women who worked there went for makeovers and networking and gave you a wad of singles and told you to go hang out at a strip club? It is just so stereotypically sexist that it almost feels like you are trolling us.

            8. Kathryn T.*

              Why don’t you replace the golf option entirely with another group event where everyone could be at roughly the same level? Burlesque dancing classes, perhaps, or a yoga retreat. Or a quilting cruise!

              1. Kathryn T.*

                I hear burlesque is very pro male participation. You know, as an organization.

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  Most of the burlesque shows I attend have majority female audiences (and older people) – I was shocked by this. I thought for sure it would skew towards men, but one of my former friends, who is a burlesque performer, once hypothesized that she thinks men seldom attend these shows at the same rate as women because the dancers don’t get fully nude. Don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s interesting to think about. Oh, and Boylesque is a thing.

            9. InfoSec SemiPro*

              I have worked for a company that actually did this. Golf trip for the real leaders, spa/shopping day for the ladies.

              I quit. Its not that I don’t like a spa day, but I like being promoted better.

              You need to find something that gives the rewards – all of them, including time with the team and leadership – to everyone regardless of gender, physical ability, or sports preferences.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                I wouldn’t like a spa day, unless it was only a massage and a nap. I research substances before I put them on my body, and I like to do my own grooming.
                I mention this as an example there is no activity that all women like.

            10. Observer*

              No, they would NOT – have you actually read and UNDERSTOOD what is being said?

              What they want is an option that gives them the SAME face time as the guys! Sending off to shop while the guys get to bond?

              Let me put it this way, you’re asking for a law suit. If the EEOC ever got this one, you’d be dealing with penalties so fast, you wouldn’t know what hit you. They may not be as active as some would like, but they are going going to love having such an easy case to take.

            11. Anyabeth*

              You know I manage a sales team that historically did a lot of golf as networking and bonding. When I took over I said “Welp, I don’t golf and neither does this person and this person” and chose something else. Did our avid golfer complain? He did! Did the dudes claim that all our customers love to network over golf? THEY DID. And guess what? We networked over lunches and different activities. We did other teambuilding activities. It was great. And our customers are actually thrilled because lots of them don’t like golf either. We built better relationships with the non-white, non-male, non Boomer customers and it turns out we had been neglecting them. So this box that it MUST be golf or the customers will revolt might not be as valid as you want it to be.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                You make an excellent point: Reaching out to that portion of the customers who don’t like golfing, and who may or may not do it anyway, because it is expected. This is a market inefficiency, which spells opportunity!

              2. MsM*

                Yeah, I don’t want to age stereotype, but I think OP may be severely overestimating the number of millennials who enjoy golf versus those who do it because they’ve been told they should. My husband does like it, but given a choice between that and Super Smash Bros? Golf loses every single time.

              3. Jasnah*

                OP I hope you look at this comment because it’s amazing that someone has been in your exact situation and solved your problem.

            12. Welcome to 2019*

              Then offer the money to the men, too. Offering it just to the ladies because ‘women be shopping’ is sexist as hell.

            13. RUKiddingMe*

              It’s sexist. It’s a stereotype. Not all women want to shop. How about you don’t do something that excludes your employees? How about you suck.it.up and find an inclusive activity?

            14. Camellia*

              How about you calculate the cost of the trip if everyone, male and female, attended, then cancel the trip and divide that money evenly to all those people? No one has to do something they don’t want to do and everyone is still rewarded. That’s the point of the trip, right? To reward everyone? No one turns down money as a reward.

              1. Jiffy*

                I think this is the best idea of all! Rather than catering to management interests with a “mandatory fun” weekend that excludes employees and their families, why not actually reward employees with something they want?? Like extra money or time off? I am continually amazed at employers who think I would like to spend another minute with them, on my own time while neglecting my own interests and responsibilities. Great fun for the bosses (and probably a way to write off a costly vacation as a business expense, even better!) does not always mean great fun for the employees.

            15. PlainJane*

              Then offer, “time in a beautiful place with some extra cash that you didn’t have before you got there.” Or skip the cash. Golf could be available, but so could other resort activities so everyone can find something they’re able to do and comfortable doing. Then bring the group together for meals/networking activities. There really are inclusive options that don’t ruin the fun for anyone but allow everyone to benefit.

              1. Starbuck*

                If golf is still an option available, and all/most of the men end up going, and none of the women, it’s still a problem.

            16. Batgirl*

              There are more than two options in the world! Especially the two lousiest options possible: “So ladies, ready to participate as beginners in a sport that has historically mocked you? Or would you like to be stereotypes and shop?”
              Literally call up any resort or retreat place and ask them about corporate activities and you’ll have more than ten options in two minutes. Your female employees are so desperate to be included as they are, without fitting in lessons, you’ve got one offering to be a cart girl. . That’s the only way she can imagine getting acceptance.

              1. Observer*

                Your female employees are so desperate to be included as they are, without fitting in lessons, you’ve got one offering to be a cart girl. . That’s the only way she can imagine getting acceptance.

                Exactly this. OP, please pay attention to this. Both in terms of this trip. But also in terms of what it says about the overall culture.

            17. Starbuck*

              You need to find an activity that’s appealing to everyone, or just not do it. You can’t set up a “choice” where women just end up self-segregating, that doesn’t solve the problem of sexist discrimination, as has been explained above.

          2. mrs__peel*

            If I got an email like that at work (“We’re setting up a separate shopping day for you because you’re women!!”), that would be my cue to quit and find a new job. Maybe on the spot.

            1. OP*

              That (as you describe) was not an option. I get what you are saying but skewing the delivery to be intentionally sexist isn’t helpful. I should’ve left the shopping off of the hypothetical list of things to do in a new city. That was not a bullet point list to be delivered to every female team member.

              Point taken.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Intentionally or not it is still sexist. The fact that you thought about shopping as a hypothetical…for the women…makes it sexist thought on your part. I know you’d like to think you aren’t sexist, but that kind of thought process and your resistance to the comments of almost every single woman here who is telling you how bad the golf idea is says otherwise.

                You might not send an email like that, but trust me when I say that the vast majority of women are savvy enough to pick up on the sub-text. If you think that none of them would think “lawyer” you should think again…and again.

                1. OP*

                  I am torn here. In real life, at least in my life, I see trends all the time. Trends between men and women. If real women propose a shopping trip, am I to shy away because “lawyer”?

                  Spoke to one of the female sales reps yesterday afternoon. One of her suggestions was “let us go shopping while yall golf!”. Should I say… no, sorry, you might sue me.

                  I am trying to do this right, but suggestions like “because shopping is a theoretical way to spend a free day”, and “a hypothetical disabled person that we don’t currently employ may not be able to play” are outside of my scope of worries at this time.

                  Like others suggested above, if we split the trip, we would split the management as well.

                2. RUKiddingMe*

                  OP you need to think about the hypothetical people you don’t *currently* employ and choose something that will stand the test when/if you do employ them. So yes you fo need to think about them.

                  As to if the women say “let us go shopping…” I’d say that yes you cant let that be an option…for the women… because it’s gendered. It denies opportunity to the women…and anyone else who isn’t on the golf course networking.

                3. Desperate for impact*

                  “OP you need to think about the hypothetical people you don’t *currently* employ and choose something that will stand the test when/if you do employ them.”

                  While I do not disagree with this point in a generic sense, the idea that OP needs to stop a golf tournament because his company might hypothetically hire a disabled person is silly.

                  Again, this is all based on “disparate impact” analysis. Look up the term “80% guideline” and the 9th Circuit’s Stout v. Potter case, which I discussed below and I actually decided to read in full based on this post. Among the findings:

                  -“It is not sufficient to present evidence raising an *inference* of discrimination on a disparate impact claim.  The plaintiff must actually prove the discriminatory impact at issue.”

                  – “Statistical disparities must be sufficiently substantial that they raise such an inference of causation.” (This casts doubt on your “what if one person is affected” stance.)

                  -“Statistical evidence derived from an extremely small universe ․ has little predictive value and must be disregarded.”

                  – Where a swing of one person changes the outcome “liability cannot turn on such statistical caprice.”

                  In short, courts do not pay much attention if it’s a case single individual skewing the outcomes.

                  @RUKiddingMe, respectfully, elsewhere in this thread you state that you are not a lawyer, and you are clearly not conversant in the legal jargon of disparate impact theory. I asked you to cite precedent indicating that holding a golf tournament, without more, is legally actionable, and you haven’t produced anything. I also did a quick search of the EEOC pleadings for the term “golf,” and while there are several examples of actions against employers who fail to invite women to play golf, nothing I found suggests that merely holding a golf tournament is actionable. (To be clear, I’m not spending the hours reading the cases in full, which would be necessary if I were advising a client — which I’m not doing here.) Attorneys would call the reasoning you’ve presented “conclusory.”

                  OP, any policy along the lines of “let the women shop while y’all play golf” is likely actionable (particularly if taken in the context of other problems at the company). Any activity that is specifically broken down by gender is going to be problematic. “Anyone who doesn’t want to play golf can take the afternoon off to do whatever” is potentially a different story, but I would be very careful to document that the instructions were not gendered.

    7. MCL*

      But by doing this, wouldn’t there then be two groups of people again? The women all doing lessons and the men all bonding and doing their own thing? It’s also a matter of non-golfers even being interested in learning. I wouldn’t be interested in lessons, personally, and I would find it a “not-really-mandatory-but-you-kinda-gotta-participate” waste of my weekend.

      1. My sympathies*

        it would be an issue the first year, but not after that, I think, because presumably the newly-trained golfers would then join the others. At least, I think that is the idea. I don’t know a thing about golf.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          It takes a LONG time and a lot of practice to be even marginally proficient at golf. I’ve been playing for over a decade and am still not good enough that I’d want to golf with a bunch of dudes in a work setting.

          Plus, it’s not a cheap hobby. Equipment, greens fees, cart rental and lessons add up quick.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            If anyone could do it (financially), it wouldn’t be the networking of the good ol’ boys.

      2. Phoenix*

        Depending on the specific group, if everyone was willing to participate but didn’t necessarily have the skills, perhaps the lesson could be open to everyone (not just the women), and take place well in advance of the trip? Perhaps as an optional, additional day off? That would help solve the in-trip group split, while still making it more accessible to non-golfers.

        Of course, I agree with Allison that this has to change going forward, but this might be a good stopgap to lessen the negative impact for this year.

      3. Op*

        Op here. I like the lessons idea if implemented pre-trip. Not during the trip for the reason you just stated.

        1. Princess PIP*

          No. Do not do this. Lessons says “here’s your chance to learn something what will get you on the same level of access in this company as others/men” and is terrible.

          The women already earned it. Choose a new trip.

          1. RUKiddingMe*


            OP do not offer lessons. This is a reward. The women are entitled to all of the perks just the same as the males are without needing to learn some stupid game.

        2. winifred*

          Still a bad idea. Playing golf requires a financial investment in clothes, clubs, etc. that people may not want or be able to make.

        3. revueller*

          Okay, if your female employees wanted to take lessons in golf to join this outing, they would have done so already and joined your trip. Your employees did not. I assume they are also smart enough to come up with other compromises that would allow you to keep your golf trip if that wasn’t the problem. Your employees did not.

          The golf trip is the problem. Your employees are not looking for easy fixes. They’re pointing out a representation of a very real and sinister culture problem within your sales team. Please, listen to your employees and to Allison.

        4. ANon.*

          OP, golf has historically been an institution where women were excluded and thus discriminated against. Even if it’s “pro-women” now, it’s not a good choice for an employer looking for an equal-opportunity option.

          Regardless, as Alison said, if the women of your company had equal access to golf, but voluntarily chose to exclude themselves so it was just the men on the golf outing, **that’s still not ok.** You are still obligated to find a new activity that does not lead to a voluntary segregation of genders.

          Also, you say that you like golf because it’s a crucial part of the industry in your region. But, knowing what you know now about its historically discriminatory nature, why not try to ~Be The Change~ and push back? Like, how great would it be for gender equality if golf was NOT such a thing in your industry/regionally? That would be awesome! Obviously, you alone can’t change your industry’s/region’s culture (and certainly not overnight!), but this is something you can do! Make the right choice, OP: find an alternative to golf!

        5. MCMonkeyBean*

          You would basically be assigning people homework for something that is supposed to be a reward.

      4. ket*

        Give lessons *beforehand* so that then there is one group. Have someone socially savvy mix the carts so that people are comfortable with skill levels.

        1. MCL*

          Personally, I have 0 interest in learning golf and would be resentful if it was a “required fun” activity requiring lesson time and then time spent out on a golf course. It’s also no fun to be a beginner in a group where most already know what they’re doing, and a lot of people aren’t comfortable being beginners in a mixed-skill group. Find another fun bonding activity that is new and everyone can enjoy, like a group meal at a great restaurant, or heck, a barbeque with yard games.

        2. Zombeyonce*

          So now these women not only have to worry about looking incompetent when playing golf as newbies, but they also have to give up their free time for lessons or take them on the clock and lose out on sales commissions to do it for a sport they have no interest in playing? No no no.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Well those silly women should have already learned to golf so it’s their own fault…


      5. Decima Dewey*

        I learned back in high school that I’m a physical klutz, and that thanks to a bunch of vision issues, nothing’s where I think it is. I can make someone laugh just by trying to catch something. So golf, bowling, and so forth have no interest for me. Lessons might, eventually, get me from risible to mediocre, but I’d pass.

    8. Memyselfandi*

      I would go along with this and it was my first thought. But, I note that some comments indicate not all would not be interested. And, the business should be thinking more broadly about physician limitations and other things that might interfere with participation. They should mix it up.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Physical limitations are super important to keep in mind here. I’m allergic to all forms of grass. If a weekend of golfing was my only opportunity to network and get face time with the higher ups, I’d be sunk. Either I skip the trip and don’t get the face time, or I go and let management see me all red eyed and covered in a rash. Neither option accomplishes the goal of getting to know management and forming career connections.

    9. Autumnheart*

      It would make the same amount of sense to plan a company-wide spa weekend, and offer the men a personal shopper if they’re not big on shopping.

      The whole point isn’t to cater to the male majority and then pencil the women into whatever corner they might fit. It’s time to scrap the “male bonding time” model of the company retreat. There are so many fun things to do that both men and women might enjoy (boating! the beach! Mountain cabin with horseback riding! Trip to the Grand Canyon!) that it’s silly at this point to keep to such a stereotype of exclusion.

      Also: “Historically, all or very nearly all of our sales team have been male, and golfers. The managers are all golfers…”

      Oh, so whenever there was a female member of the sales team, historically the company did what? Just leave her out? Offer a token invitation with the unspoken expectation that she wouldn’t intrude on the men? Not cool at all. It’s time to change this.

    10. ket*

      I came here to say exactly that! Many women golf — and many would be interested in learning, even if just for kicks/networking/whatever!

    11. Keener*

      I am a woman in a male dominated industry. Ive never learned to play golf and am not particularly interested in it but I’ve considered taking golf lessons a few times.

      While I’d appreciate my company being more inclusive and choosing an activity that everyone enjoys, I also accept that until there is a major change in my industry I’ll always miss out on some networking opportunities unless I golf. I’ve volunteered to be the event photographer in the past. It gave me a legitimate (non-gendered) role and an opportunity to participate without having to actually golf.

      If there was an opportunity to go on this retreat and take golf lessons I’d be keen! However, make sure the lessons are open to any one who wants to learn/improve, not just the women.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I worry that the people taking lessons, which would mostly be women, having to give up their free time to take them or if given work time to do it, missing out on money from sales commissions. Those both sound like pretty bad consequences.

    12. Eukomos*

      I agree, especially since it sounds like this golf trip is part of a broader golf culture in the industry in that area, as it sounds like from the letter. I hate it when I discover some unspoken rule of a thing I was supposed to get good at in my own time to get somewhere in my industry, but it’s not a formal requirement so no one thought to train me in it or even mention how prevalent it is. This is professional development to improve networking opportunities, that’s well worth offering your staff formal opportunities for training.

    13. TootsNYC*

      Though, would they be taking lessons while the guys who already play are hanging out with managers and senior execs?

      Maybe one thing to do is to create time where anyone who DIDN’T golf still gets one-on-one time with managers and senior execs. It would make for a busy weekend for the senior folks, but this is more about work for them.

    14. CountryLass*

      I’m useless at golf; the one time my husband took me to the driving range I nearly knocked myself out with my own ball!

      But if it was a big company weekend thing, they were footing the whole bill and offering lessons? I’d give it a shot! And even if I truly TRULY sucked on the first day, I’d probably still be happy to drive one of the carts and take the mickey out of those playing when/if they hit the ball into the water or something!

      But next year, definitely think of something different. Depending on where you are, maybe a wine-tasting thing, or if it’s near the beach, some diving or windsurfing?

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Those options all seem problematic to me. So many people don’t drink for personal and religious reasons and the others involve being in a bathing suit in front of co-workers, which is obviously going to be a bigger deal for women than men.

        Any resort worth its salt will have a long list if activities for corporate retreats they can offer to OP, plenty of which should be culturally neutral and fine for most groups.

        1. Dahlia*

          Black people on average know how to swim in lower rates than white people because of historical segragration so like… anything where “must swim” is necessary is not a good way to diversify.

    15. MeepMeep*

      Yeah, that would be my reaction too. It’s not like they’re all going to a male-specific thing. Women can play golf.

      I absolutely suck at golf, but if my whole office were into it, I’d take lessons and come along and try. And I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be “the reason we can’t do our annual golf trip anymore”.

      1. Works in IT*

        I have zero interest in playing golf or drinking beer, but golf carts look fun to drive.

        1. Antilles*

          Golf carts *can* be fun to drive…unfortunately, if you’re doing anything more fun than “driving at an average speed in a straight line”, you will immediately be asked to stop.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Your last sentence is problematic thinking. You wouldn’t be the reason for the change – the change would be because the company came up with a better, more inclusive, equally fun activity for the sales team to do as an actual team, where everyone can contribute and network with equal access to company bigwigs.

        1. Welcome to 2019*

          And in any lady-exclusive event, you know the men would be like “well, we were going to do the golf trip, but SHARON didn’t want to.”

          Don’t act like this doesn’t happen.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Who said it doesn’t? My point was, letting the possibility of what others may say be the reason why you go along with something in the workplace that you don’t agree with, especially something that’s divisive and exclusionary, is problematic because it is.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              It’s definitely problematic but I’m opposed to shaming a woman (who isn’t part of the management structure) for evaluating her options and making the choice that works best for her.

              “Sharon, The Reason There’s No More Golf Trip” isn’t responsible for sacrificing herself on the altar of a shitty company that refuses to do the right (and legal!) thing just so she can help out the women who will be hired after she’s forced out of that toxic environment (assuming they don’t reinstate the golf trip once all the ladies are gone).

              Management is responsible for fixing this, and doing it in a way that doesn’t get the women singled out and retaliated against. I don’t envy management, they’ll be fighting against the culture they’ve actively sought to establish—and if the OP is any indication, they don’t want to fix it, they wanted a “solution” that was also a free pass to continue, and they’ll probably accidentally-on-purpose say something that leads to those women paying hell until they can get out.

    16. Sara*

      I understand where you’re coming from, but it’s still a bad idea.

      One issue that comes to mind (in addition to what Alison and others have already said) is what happens if one of the staff members physically can’t play golf either now or in the future? People have all kinds of temporary and chronic health problems that could present an issue. For example, my boss (who actually *is* an avid golfer, which is why it’s on my mind) broke a finger on his dominant hand in a freak (non-work-related) accident about a month ago and can’t swing a golf club right now.

      OP and his company should find another way to reward the staff.

    17. Liz*

      I would as well. I don’t play, but its because I’ve never really had the opportunity to learn. BUT, if i were one of the female employees who wasn’t going to play because I don’t know how, I would most certainly appreciate the option of lessons, while the others went and played.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        And while you’re off taking lessons, your coworkers (male coworkers) are getting face time and networking…

    18. Public Sector Manager*

      As a golfer, I wouldn’t advocate giving everyone lessons.

      First, some (but definitely not all) weekend golfers take themselves way too seriously in office golf tournaments (I have at least 2 people on my team who fall into this category). Even using a best ball format, they want to have the low score. They go out of their way to avoid having golfers who aren’t as good as they are in their foursome. If they have to use every player’s drive twice, the inexperienced player’s tee shot is always on the shortest hole so it does the least “damage” to the team score. It’s not fun being the least experienced golfer in those situations. This attitude from certain golfers is the main reason why I stopped playing in our office’s voluntary tournament.

      Second, the female sales people might experience even more discrimination by golfing. A good friend of my wife’s is an avid golfer and just moved to the Deep South. While women are allowed at the local country clubs, mixed gender foursomes aren’t allowed. The women have to play with other women or they can’t play at all. If the courses in the OP’s area are the same way, this will just make matters worse.

      Finally, since there will be no more than 4 people in each group teeing off, there is going to be a pecking order based on who you are teamed up with. Being in the owner’s foursome is going to give you more meaningful facetime with the head of the company than being in the head of HR’s foursome. Three people won’t be complaining they get to play with the owner, but everyone else will miss out on that same experience.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        Men and women aren’t allowed to play golf together? What are they afraid will happen???

    19. Hlyssande*

      I could see offering lessons to all employees in general, since it sounds like golf is part of the local culture.

      That said, the only way someone is getting me on a golf course is with a helmet and protective eyewear and even then it’s unlikely that I’m willing. I nearly lost an eye to a golf ball as a child.

    20. StaceyIzMe*

      Agreed! With golf, it’s hard. It’s a venerable tradition and even if it’s somewhat sexist in its history, a lot of business has been conducted during the course of playing a few rounds. So- maybe inclusion (or an offer of inclusion, if interested) is better than assuming it’s a lost cause.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Wouldn’t it be a wonderful gesture to the women (and non-golfing men) at the company to be a pioneer in changing this tradition? It doesn’t just mess with gender politics, it also effects younger workers since they’re less likely to play, too. It’s not just a sexist trip, it’s verging on ageist.

    21. Bunny Hopping*

      Please don’t offer lessons. The guys will go out and network on the course — some will be amazing golfers and some will be awful. The women worrying that they are not good golfers will be in the lessons and not get to network with the men.

      It is time to find a new activity.

    22. anon for this one*

      Yet another reason not to hire women – now we can’t have a nice golf weekend.


      Joking. Well joking that I believe that, but know some good old boys are thinking that. So it’s not a joke – it’s fxcked up that some people will think that way.


    23. Lucille2*

      I thought the same thing. I participated in many company golf outings as a pretty novice golfer. For the most part, it was fun! But, as a male colleague pointed out to me, some of the men were offering loads of unsolicited advice on how I could improve my form. Advice that was not given to the other bad male golfers.

      Golf is a sport that shouldn’t be gendered, but somehow it is. Also, I know plenty of men who would be happy to pass on the golf trip.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      This is the way we’ve always done it, and no one has ever complained so why change?

      I guarantee you this will be a response the OP will hear.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Also internalized misogyny. Right here in these comments we can see women saying basically “just accept it…/necessary to succeed/etc…” Paraphrased of course, but yeah…

    2. Roscoe*

      Its still a think because the people who were there enjoyed it, and they only recently got new hires. Its not shocking that a group of guys, who live in a golf town, would enjoy a golf outing. Its not shocking that women who live there may enjoy the same thing. The idea of a golf outing isn’t bad on its own, any more than the idea of bowling is bad on its own. OP is trying to figure out a solution to a problem that really just arose.

      1. Jerry*

        Seriously. This comment section always makes me feel like a martian. It’s always INCONCEIVABLE here that anyone would ever pursue anything but management best practices regardless of their social or cultural context.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think that’s a strawman. No one here is saying it’s inconceivable that this has come about; to the contrary, we’re all too aware of how it has. But the OP is asking about how to handle it, and that’s what the answers are focused on.

          1. EOA*

            I have to disagree, Allison. There are a number of people who are responding as if the root of the problem is golf itself. It’s not. There are women who like golf and who would want to go on a golfing trip. (I am not among them, to be clear). And there are also women who would probably like to learn to golf.

            But “golf” isn’t the issue – it’s the associations we have with it, and how it has been used to exclude women. If more women were socialized to learn golf (and like it, I suppose), then I don’t see where the golfing trip would be so terrible. But by focusing on golf, I feel like a lot of people here are missing the deeper issue, which is perpetuating informal networks that exclude women.

            That’s where I think that OP is falling down – he or she isn’t quite seeing how this trip has now become an informal way to exclude the women on the sales team from developing the kinds of networking and face time that benefits their careers. That’s what the OP needs to fix – it may means ending the golf trips but also, it should mean being more proactive in finding ways for the women on the sales team to advance their careers.

            But golf itself – not the issue, IMO.

            1. EOA*

              I should say that I think you basically did say much of this in your response, I just get the feeling that a number of others here don’t see that.

            2. Works in IT*

              I disagree… slightly… in that socializing anyone to be good at and like a sport with a high cost of entry (equipment costs and entry fees) doesn’t seem to be a good idea. If I was in charge of planning company wide events, I would similarly not plan a skiing trip, even though I love skiing, because it is a sport that requires an investment of money to become good enough to not embarrass yourself, and I know that anyone in the department who isn’t an avid skier would probably be embarrassed to be stuck on the bunny slopes, and it’s not a skill that can be trained in advance without spending money on buying or renting equipment and a lift pass. Not everyone can afford to spend the money to get good enough to not be humiliated in expensive sports, fun or not.

              1. Spencer Hastings*

                “Not everyone can afford to spend the money to get good enough to not be humiliated in expensive sports, fun or not”

                Or the time. People already have their own hobbies that are important to them, and goodness knows we have little time for them as it is without adding another one just so we can conform to someone else’s idea of socially acceptable sports participation.

                1. Busy*

                  Well see that’s WHY golf was made an informal barrier to entry. It isn’t just for men, but for men who can afford it.

                  At my *male dominated* company, they do a golf thing like this OP stated of who hit the ball the farthest to make it so “anyone can participate”. I asked what a person is to do if they cannot afford the said clubs to hit the ball. And yeah … they’re not renting any so … tell me again who this activity is for?

                  It is up there with like asking only women to take notes or copying things; its like sexism 101. I can see why people on here from diferent regions would be shocked people don’t get it, and why some on here ARE struggling with it. Lots of places in this world (like the city I live) have not gotten the sexist memo.

                2. Hijos de Sanchez*

                  I my city there are many public golf courses and people use them. Yes you need to get clubs, but you can rent those or purchase them secondhand very easily, alot more easily than things like camping equipment actually. The only sport I can think of that has no equipment is soccer.

                3. Kat in VA*

                  Especially time. I was a kickass rock climber, dirtbiker, and snowboarder (before I broke my neck pursuing the adrenaline dragon on that last one). Those sports are not only expensive as hell to equip properly, but take a tremendous amount of time to get good at doing them. I also own and shoot a variety of firearms. Again, a large expenditure of money to do it properly.

                  If someone told me I had to learn to golf (with my titanium-framed neck) to further my career on top of the roughly 60 hours a week I put in at my job already, I’d tell them to go pound sand. I spend what little free time doing what I WANT to do, and being told I had spend some of that precious free time to learn a sport that (a) I have no interest in and (b) would make me miserable and more in pain that I’m already in? No thanks. Find something else.

            3. wittyrepartee*

              Yes, our company offers a quilting and advanced yoga retreat for both women and men.

            4. Micklak*

              Most of the comments I’ve read that are critical of golf are critical because it “perpetuates informal networks that exclude women.”

              1. Zombeyonce*

                It also generally excludes people from lower middle class and below because of the cost, which is also a big deal.

            5. PlainJane*

              I’ll leave the debate on whether golf is specifically the issue to others and make this more broad: any mandatory sport or other physically demanding activity is a problem, because it excludes people with physical limitations who may not want to disclose those. It’s also more likely to exclude older employees (says the 50-something with arthritis and tendonitis). A trip to a resort is fine (if it’s accessible), but beware of networking activities that require abilities not required by the regular job. Have a variety of options people can choose from (including choosing to just relax) and incorporate networking events without athletic component.

          2. Jerry*

            I can’t say I agree. The comment tree I’m replying to specifically finds it inconceivable that there is a company that pursues golf as a group team building activity. Their comment literally questions how it can exist.

            While I think you’re right in your original response about the new circumstances, I don’t find it surprising or even remarkable at all. Management tried to find a group activity everyone would enjoy and they did. It feels weird to treat golf as the original activity as so egregious. This has not been the first time I’ve noticed this tendency in the comment section of this blog.

            1. Spencer Hastings*

              The question is rhetorical. She finds it objectionable, not literally incomprehensible.

              1. Jerry*

                ” Management tried to find a group activity everyone would enjoy and they did. It feels weird to treat golf as the original activity as so egregious.”

                1. Spencer Hastings*

                  Oh, I thought you were referring to the “This is still happening in 2019?”.

              2. Detective Amy Santiago*

                Moreso I was referring to the institutionalized sexism that still exists in business, but yeah, definitely still a rhetorical question.

          3. Ralph Wiggum*

            I have to agree with Jerry that the comments to this post are some of the most unnecessarily negative comments to the OP than I’ve seen in a long time.

            1. Micklak*

              There are a lot of negative comments, but they seem pretty necessary to me. As someone else mentioned, this seems like such a 1950s issue. A lot of people are surprised that it’s still an issue when it’s so clearly sexist and classist.

            2. Starbuck*

              The incredulity has definitely risen more as the OP has left several comments that give the impression they don’t really think this is a problem and that they want to ‘include’ the women without having to change anything that the men are doing… they want the women to have to change (take golf lessons). And they can’t (or won’t) understand why that’s a problem. It’s BS.

              1. Zombeyonce*

                This. OP’s responses have been resistant to any real change for the men at the company.

                1. Quandong*


                  The OP’s responses have revealed their lack of insight into why it’s not okay to organize activities where some coworkers (in this case, women) are disadvantaged or unable to derive equal benefit as others.

      2. Welcome to 2019*

        The problem “just arose” because they “just” added women to the team.

        1. DefinitelyAnon*

          There are lots of sales fields that women are just beginning to enter, even in 2019. Remember, sales can be anything–and in my husband’s industry which is a pretty niche technological field, women sales associates are few and far between. The whys to that are a much deeper, bigger problem than these companies didn’t feel like hiring women. Indeed all the of the companies my husband has worked for hire lots of women for other professions within the company–but there are few, if any, candidates in his particular field.

      1. I was never given a name*

        Just because of your username, I have to suggest they just do a separate Women’s Appreciation trip to Steamtown Mall.
        (To non-Office fans, no I’m not serious)

        1. Bowserkitty*

          Everything about that trip is so wrong, it is hilarity….. (one of my favorite episodes!!!)

    3. Mary's Dress*

      Exactly – I remember these days in the 90’s in BigLaw. But they threw in strip club visits on top of the “beer drinking”.

    4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Well, there was the earlier letter from a man who wanted to organize a volleyball weekend with his male coworkers but he didn’t know how to coordinate it without “the women causing drama.”
      And he was a young person, new to the workplace with the view that his male coworkers were his “friends” and should be able to hang out as friends who happen to work at the same place, doing the same thing and talking about it while away from the office.

      1. Manon*

        People who believe that sexism doesn’t exist among young men are sorely mistaken. Sometimes it can be even more insidious because it comes from men versed in the language and expectations of modern feminism who talk big about caring about misogyny and equality but in practice act every bit as sexist as older men.

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          Agreed. It can be insidious because they think they are being supportive when it’s really paternalistic and infantalizing.

    5. MatKnifeNinja*

      Where I live golf is huge. Many golf courses have “let’s get girls golfing” learn how to golf lessons, and a selling point that golf is still a big a big deal in a business setting. The boys and mixed lessons are never full. The girls lessons have wait list.

      My niece and her friends took after school once a week lessons up from K to 8th grade.

      She’s no LPGA member, but she wouldn’t feel u comfortable on a golf course.

      It’s the FOMO that drives it.

      Golf outings for business have never went away around here.

      1. JustaTech*

        Back in the 90’s a high school classmate (girl) went to “business camp” one summer, and one of the activities was learning to play golf for business purposes. Not to be good at the game necessarily, but to learn all the etiquette and how not to embarrass yourself or the boss.

        I commented that this was absurd and sexist and she agreed but “that’s the way the business world works”. Too bad some things haven’t changed.

      2. TransmitHIm*

        Ok, cool, women can like golf. That’s perfectly reasonable. But they shouldn’t have to for work reasons, is the issue. I’m a man and don’t play golf and if my workplace basically forced me into going away for the weekend to play it, I’d hate it, however casual they are about skill (and the suggestion that it doesn’t matter if you’re terrible is clearly made by someone who isn’t terrible at golf. It is a horrendous feeling being actively awful at something around your peers.)
        They should have addressed this years ago when they had someone who, from the OP’s letter, doesn’t like golf but went anyway to hang around in the carts, which is a clear sign they felt obligated to go.

    6. Lynca*

      2 years ago we had a vibrant conversation about spouse activities while planning a conference. It was disheartening to hear people actively saying we should just arrange take them shopping.

      We did not do that by the way.

    7. Working Mom Having It All*

      I worked on a TV show a few years ago where not only was my department extremely male dominated (not unusual in the entertainment industry), but the execs all had golf as a shared hobby and anyone who wanted to move up also played golf. As someone who doesn’t enjoy golf, and who isn’t interested in taking up an expensive and time-consuming hobby that I otherwise don’t enjoy just for schmoozing opportunities (in my time off, no less), it won’t be a surprise when I tell you I did not last long there and don’t use anyone there as a reference.

      But yes, this absolutely still happens.

  2. JokeyJules*

    There is no possible realm of reality where i would want to be a “cart girl” and pass beer to my male coworkers while they golf.
    Nor a realm where i would want to watch another colleague do that.

    There are so many other ways to involve everyone (hatchet throwing, sip and paint events, cooking classes, horseback riding, etc.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Only if you get the managers and owners to participate in those other activities though — otherwise you still have the unequal networking access problem.

      1. Emily K*

        Yeah, I was thinking about a semi-comparable annual retreat my company has. There are various excursions that staff can pick from a la carte, which cover a wide range of interests, so there’s something for everyone – but excursions are a relatively small percentage of the total time we are on the trip, so if you choose an excursion that no VIP chose, it doesn’t significantly affect your access to VIPs.

        I wonder if there’s a way to reorganize this trip, leaving golf in there, but substantially minimizing its prominence? I’m not super familiar with these things, but if it’s a three-day trip, perhaps a half-day could have an optional golf excursion alongside other options that resonate with people on your team. Some of the ones we’ve done at my company’s retreat are bird-watching, paddle boats, shopping, tours of local establishments like farms and wineries. Ideally, every excursion would have at least one manager/VIP heading up the activity – even if maybe all the VIPs would rather golf, they would see that they have a special responsibility to be equally available to all their sales staff and volunteer to do the bird-watching trip or winery tour or whatever instead, and maybe next year they can do the golf excursion.

        1. Emily K*

          Meant to add, the evenings could be spent alternating between free time to enjoy the hotel pool/spa/etc, and general/whole group activities like dinner/happy hour, maybe showing a movie, stuff like that?

        2. BeautifulVoid*

          This might not be a terrible idea, at least for a “transition” year to head off some complaints about changing the golf trip. OP says the trip is Friday – Sunday. Just tossing some ideas out there, say they travel on Friday and do something enjoyable for everyone that afternoon/evening. Then Saturday morning, offer at least two activities, one of them being the traditional game of golf. I think what might save this is spreading out the VIPs/higher-ups between the different activities, i.e., not have all of them go on the golf part. For example, if there are three VIPs going on the trip, let the team members choose between golf, a museum tour, or a cheese tasting (just making stuff up, obviously), and have a VIP at each one. Have everyone get together again for a non-golf activity on Saturday night and Sunday morning, or even repeat the “golf or something else” thing on Sunday, as long as there are VIPs at the other options.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            If there are 3 VIPs and the golf outing is offered 3 times, they could take turns going golfing.

    2. nutella fitzgerald*

      Tbh I probably actually would rather be a “cart girl” than throw hatchets

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        The perennial problem with offering activity-based trips as rewards. One person’s fun afternoon is another person’s chore.

        I with you on the ‘cart girl’ over hatches thing. Although I’d pick a good cooking class over either, as long as I get to eat the food afterwards.

        1. Alucius*

          Yeah, exactly. Looking at the JokeyJules’s suggestions in the top-line comment (all of which are perfectly reasonable!), I would have exactly zero interest in a sip and paint and be incredibly apprehensive about riding a horse. If I felt I HAD to do either one or lose status with my employer, I would not be happy.

          1. JokeyJules*

            all the more reason to survey your staff or change the rewards program!

            from all of the work events i’ve planned, there is always at least one person there having almost no fun, intended or not, but i think we almost all would enjoy more money or a nice dinner and an extra day off (or both!)

            1. Clisby*

              Yes. I’m a woman and I like golf – it’s literally the only sport I will watch, unless my own son is playing soccer. However, if I had a choice between this long-weekend golf excursion and just getting Friday off to have a long weekend with my family – Bye, Workplace! See you on Monday!

              Same for some of the other suggestions. Grand Canyon? NOPE. Horseback riding? NOPE. Sip & paint? NOPE.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                I’d do the paint and sip because those are goofy and fun (and you can bring your own drinks if you don’t do alcohol), but the physical activities would get a hard pass from me. I run, and do yoga and Pilates, but have no desire to ride horses or do anything else that could potentially lead to an injury I’ll have a hard time recovering from due to some invisible disabilities I have. Nope. People really need to start taking into account disabilities as well as possible gender imbalances when thinking up team events. Not everyone physically can participate, and not everyone will speak up about their limitations if they don’t want to put their disability out there to someone not in HR.

                1. Busy*

                  I think it comes down to coming to the realization that your coworkers are not your buddies and stop trying to create the faaaaaamily culture by forcing activities people don’t want to do to have fun. I will bet you dollars to doughnuts half those guys that are golfing right now don’t want to do this either. Its just one of those “male” good ole boy things.

                  I come from a “Golf Dynasty” so to speak. Everyone in my family golfs. With that said, do you have any idea how many men have told me they only golf or learned to golf because work demanded it? That they actually hate it? That it sucks up all their time and money to keep up with it? More than those who do play it for fun.

                  My company has a ton of activities throughout the year that are choices and no one pays attention to who goes or who does not.

                  And honestly, if I am attending an event hosted by my employer, then there is a 100% chance I am just there for free food LMAO.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            There’s a reason that ‘nice lunches’ are so popular as bonding / rewards. You do have to do some work to be inclusive there too, but in the end, even if someone doesn’t want to eat what’s there, they can come and sit and chat.

        2. HeyAnonanonnie*

          You know what is a good incentive/reward that can be used by everyone, of all genders, physical conditions, and ages? Money.

          1. Jerry*

            But it doesn’t offer the same opportunity for de-formalizing social interactions, and flattening relationships. Those have positive externalities which Alison pointed out: networking and mentorship opportunities.

        3. Gaia*

          The thing is, it isn’t a problem when one, or even a few, don’t like an event. It is a problem when an entire gender in a given group doesn’t like an event. That needs to be a sign of a necessary course correction.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            I also think there’s a lot of value in rotating activites if you can, so you’re not excluding the same people year over year.

          2. Lauren*

            But it’s not intrinsic to their femaleness, which is what everybody is missing. It so happens that this group of women does not enjoy golf; fine. (I don’t either.) But stop acting as though it is *inherently* tied to their gender.

            1. ceiswyn*

              But it kind of is, simply because golf has a long history of being a gendered activity, with exclusion of women from golf clubs being common up until quite recently.

              As a result, it is an activity that men are more likely to have taken up and pursued than women are. Hence, inherently gendered.

              1. Micklak*

                Half the women in my family love golf. That wouldn’t keep me from acknowledging that golf is inherently gendered.

                I’m also curious how many black or latino or middle eastern sales people they have in this office. Golf has historically been an exclusive activity.

                1. Captain S*

                  Saying it’s inherently gendered doesn’t mean “no women like it” – it’s about who has participated in it and benefited from it (especially in a professional context) historically.

                2. Jules the 3rd*

                  Tiger Woods wasn’t allowed to play in the 2013 British Open because the club where it was held didn’t allow blacks.

                  It’s not ‘historically’ exclusive…

                3. Hijos de Sanchez*

                  I am curious whether you are Latino/a Micklak. If not please don’t speak for us. I am Hispanic and learned golf.

                4. Hijos de Sanchez*

                  Tiger Woods wasn’t allowed to play in the 2013 British Open because the club where it was held didn’t allow blacks.

                  I am calling BS on this:

                  “Tiger Woods ‘very pleased’ to open 2013 British Open with 2-under 69”



            2. Kj*

              But golf at this company excludes the women. And, speaking broadly, golf is more likely to exclude women than men, just like a so day would get more men sleeting out than women. The company should choose a wide variety of activities that people do not select in or out of by gender group.

          3. Mr. Shark*

            Golf really isn’t exclusionary of one sex, though. I can see it would exclude certain physical limitations, though.
            I’m all for inclusion, but it is a shame that things like this can’t continue just because certain people don’t want to participate.

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              “it is a shame that things like this can’t continue just because certain people don’t want to participate.”

              This is quite passive-aggressive.

              And I mean, many gendered activities are not *inherently*, literally exclusionary. Women are not incapable of swinging a stick to hit a little ball just because they are women. Men are not incapable of getting their fingernails painted bright colours or getting a facial, either. And yet, in practice, golf is a sport heavily associated with men and spa activities are heavily associated with women, and if you knowingly decide to centre your workplace bonus scheme on one or the other then in practice you will be excluding people. In practice, many women were never taught to play golf because it’s considered a male activity, they find the overall vibe unappealing or unwelcoming, they are specifically forbidden to participate at many courses or only allowed to participate on certain days/on lesser courses/accompanied by a man, and all sorts of other reasons. So it really isn’t about how “certain people” – just say “spoilsport girls”, we can all hear you thinking it – don’t “want” to play.

            2. Welcome to 2019*

              “Golf really isn’t exclusionary of one sex, though.”

              Clubs literally bar women from being on premises, so yes, it is.

              “I’m all for inclusion, but it is a shame that things like this can’t continue just because certain people don’t want to participate.”

              You’re not all for inclusion.

            3. dealing with dragons*

              “certain people” ?

              not a great phrase to go with here. might as well say “you people”. eesh.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        If I chop off my arm at an axe-throwing team builder, does that qualify under worker’s comp?

        1. merula*

          Answer from someone who works in insurance: Everything with WC is driven by state law, but probably.

          Employer-sponsored extracurricular activities have generally been found to be “in the course and scope of employment”, which is the general rule to qualify for comp.

        2. stitchinthyme*

          I had a coworker once who injured his arm badly enough to need surgery during a work-sponsored bowling trip. He filed for worker’s comp and they covered it. (They also never did another bowling outing.)

      3. Connie*

        The only one of those id want to do is horseback riding. But some people are afraid of horses, or have physical issues that would prevent them from riding.

        I know more men are cooking now, but why would you replace a stereotypical men’s thing with a stereotypical women’s thing and expect either sex to be happy about it?

        I’m a woman. I make things like baked chicken seasoned with salt only. I have no to make, or eat, anything fancier than that.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I strongly disagree that cooking is a stereotypical women’s thing. On an individual level, maybe, but that’s less about cooking and more about gendered division of household labor. If you look at high-end professional chefdom, it’s heavily male-dominated.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            That’s an excellent example of the glass escalator, and it has everything to do with the activity being considered “something women do.”

        2. pamela voorhees*

          For anyone in the future reading this, most if not all barns limit riders to 200 lbs or less. This means many employees would not be allowed to participate in it, and have a high potential for getting embarrassed when they walk in. I highly recommend that a workplace choose a different activity (although horseback riding is fun, and I’d recommend it).

      4. UGH*

        Whereas I would quit a job ON THE SPOT if I was asked to be a “cart girl” and serve my male colleagues beer.

    3. Anonysand*

      All of those are great options, and it could be any combination of them too. Instead of making the whole outing about golf, why not just one afternoon? Or, is there a TopGolf nearby? That offers the same type of activity in a more relaxed and casual setting that makes it into a game. Combine a variation of activities with group meals and I think you’d have the same level of participation and satisfaction.

      Also, not only on the gender front, but this type of activity is pretty limiting to those who are physically-abled. Just like you’d want to make sure you were being inclusive for women, make sure that you’re being inclusive in other ways as well.

      1. JokeyJules*

        TopGolf is great! I think golf is super boring, but TopGolf was sort of the golf equivalent to bowling (which i also find super boring). It was a great time, but group meals are also a really good, mostly-universally enjoyed alternative

      2. DonnaNoble*

        Thanks for mentioning this! I don’t play traditional golf, but I love TopGolf. However, we hardly ever go (as a family) because my husband has scoliosis and isn’t able to enjoy playing because it’s physically uncomfortable for him. This is a very important point for the OP’s company to keep in mind.

      3. KHB*

        I like the idea of a combination of activities. Keep the weekend trip to the beach town, schedule one afternoon of golfing, and fill the rest of the time with hiking, pottery painting, wine tasting, or whatever. Each individual activity is optional, but they’re all chosen to appeal to as wide a cross-section of the group as possible, so it’s not “all golf all the time” versus “separate side activity for people who don’t golf.”

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      My stomach clenched itself into a black hole when I saw the words “cart girl”.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I was thinking about hatchet throwing and the person who coined that term….

      2. Connie*

        Driving the cart and handing out beers doesn’t seem as big of an issue to me as calling yourself (or others) a “cart girl”.

        1. Scarlet2*

          Honestly, both are issues to me. Driving the cart and serving beer sounds like the kind of menial/subservient “job” generally given to women while men do “exciting things”.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Yes – like expecting the women to be the ones to make coffee and take notes at meetings.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            And you don’t get to network when you’re busy driving while your passengers schmooze.

        2. swingbattabatta*

          Agreed. I actually really enjoy just hanging out in the cart, drinking beer and eating snacks. I get some sun, I get to visit with everyone, and I don’t have to look like an idiot in front of my friends. However, dudes can get their own beer. Their arms work just as well as mine.

      3. Liane*

        OP, please suggest this site to the woman at your workplace who offered to do this. As well as anyone who heard and, unlike you, doesn’t realize this is a bad idea.

    5. TakeOut4Life*

      Oh my gosh I try to weasel my way out of cooking classes every time. I hate cooking and I get a huge sense of dread whenever anyone mentions it as a team building activity. Just, please no…….

    6. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

      All the other thing you suggested would make me really uncomfortable compared to fourish hours driving a golf cart and hanging out.
      But to pull something from an earlier post this week – You do You.

    7. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Or you could just give people a cash bonus and let them do whatever they want with it.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        I suggested something similar downthread. I don’t think a group of people who are accustomed to hours of outdoor physical activity would be satisfied with just an evening BBQ though.
        I was thinking an all-day picnic where the children could play, where people could toss around balls and frisbees, maybe even a pickup game of some sort, and if there are any avid grillers on the staff, they could do the grilling and show off their skills. If not, then a caterer, or a caterer for everything else.
        Then in the evening maybe a guitar player or easy-listening band, maybe even a dance floor?
        That sounds like a satisfying day for the athletic!

        1. Michaela Westen*

          By all-day I mean beginning in early afternoon.
          Or make it a lunch thing – begin at 10am and end at 6-ish…

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            11 – 5, so people can get home for dinner. Local, etc. This is actually what my employer does. They have a catered outdoor meal with vegetarian / halal / kosher options near a playground / open field / frisbee golf course. They provide lawn darts, bocce and horseshoes, and let the employees pick what they want to play. It’s very popular.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              A *lot* of people don’t play anything, just sit around chatting. There’s not usually beer.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                Yes, that would be me. I enjoy chatting. :) I’ll eat a couple of burgers too.
                Ideally there would be food all day, so attendees wouldn’t have to go home and cook dinner!

            2. blackcat*

              This was my wedding (part of it, anyways). Nice park. Catered sandwiches. A ton of lawn games. No booze (because public park). It was really nice! People had fun! It was like 4 hours of chilling.
              There was dinner + booze that night, but it was the picnic everyone enjoyed the most.

    8. Lissa*

      Noooo any suggested event is going to get a bunch of people who hate it (at least here in the comments!) or can’t do it. IMO, either there need to be no events or it just needs to be accepted that there is just no way to pick an event everyone will enjoy.

      The problem with golf is that the enjoyment of it breaks down along gender lines enough that it’s really bad. IMO, it wouldn’t be a problem if you picked an event a couple people happened not to like. But, others disagree with me and are more on the side of no events because there just isn’t a way to do one that will please everyone, which also is a good point.

      The idea would be to have a selection of events but that isn’t always feasible depending on size, finances etc. And some people just hate all work events no matter what but also don’t want to be left out!

      1. Micklak*

        I like the idea of rotating activities, because clearly everyone won’t agree. Maybe there could be sporty, crafty and leisure activities. The only caveat would be that the execs/managers would be required to split up among the activities. They would sacrifice their love of golf to offer a true reward to their salespeople.

      2. Working Mom Having It All*

        My current job does a company-wide volunteer service day. They choose a few local nonprofits which need drop-in help (food bank, animal shelter, Habitat For Humanity, stuff like that), as well as some which are of the handicraft variety where people can do the activity from our work site. For example this year the onsite volunteer activities included making fleece throw blankets for kids in the local children’s hospital. The idea is that you have your choice of ways to participate according to your interests or physical needs. Nothing is particularly gendered, though I guess it’s possible that more men choose to do Habitat while more women choose to make blankets. It’s a good way to network across the company, and I’m pretty sure higher up execs are encouraged to spread out so that there’s no one “good” opportunity that allows for face time with VIPs while the others are known to be duds.

        Obviously one service day that includes the whole company isn’t the same thing as a team trip that is seen as a reward and bit of vacation. But surely there’s a way to either factor this into the trip (they all volunteer together rather than all golfing together) or add the spirit of this sort of thing into the trip by giving everyone choices of what activities to do rather than framing it as a golf trip that is being “ruined” by the women not playing golf.

        1. Tinker*

          The company I work for also does a company-wide volunteer service day very much like what you describe, down to one of the recent options being the fleece-blanket-for-local-children’s-hospital thing, and my impression of it has been similar — I wouldn’t be surprised if the VIPs were intentionally spreading themselves out, as awareness of diversity issues like that one is the expected norm for leaders in my company.

          It’s a while since golf (at least actual golf, and not putt putt or Top Golf) has been A Thing where I’ve worked, so this scenario still being a thing somewhere has been a bit surprising to me.

    9. Ashley*

      We had an outing and need a few people to drive the beer cart. The women in my office loved it and begged to do it again the next year. Mind you these women wouldn’t have been at the event otherwise but there are some personalities that enjoy it. (And some who can fake it for the networking.)

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Are you sure they really loved it though, or did they “fake it for the networking?”

        Your phrasing makes it sound like women in junior roles who wouldn’t have otherwise been invited to the event – but are there equal numbers of men in those junior roles, and, vice versa, women in senior/included roles?

      2. Emily K*

        I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea to ask for volunteers to drive the cart, but it shouldn’t be offered as a consolation prize to the gender whose interests were otherwise ignored when planning the trip.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Or loved it, but in a relative sense. I’d far rather do that than play golf, but I’d FAR RATHER have a bonus or extra days off or whatever than even drive the beer cart. If my options are drive the beer cart or miss out entirely, sure, I’ll drive the beer cart, but I’d rather have options other than this event entirely.

    10. Vicky Austin*

      How about taking everyone on a river cruise or a harbor cruise? That’s something that everyone can do regardless of color, gender, race, religion, and ability; and that you don’t need any special skills to do. It’s also a great opportunity for socializing and networking.

  3. copier queen*

    “The sales team of 10-15 people in two branches are the only ones eligible for the trip because they are paid via commission, and therefore do not receive bonuses under our pay structure.”
    Easy solution – award the sales team members – male and female – bonuses at a very nice dinner in your city, in lieu of having a trip. Calculate the bonuses by dividing the cost of the trip by the number of people on the sales team. Hold the dinner on a Thursday night and give everyone Friday off.

    1. merp*

      Oh my god, yes, why is the pay structure the barrier here? Change that and your problem goes away.

    2. Mimi Me*

      Yes to this! Frankly I’d rather have a bonus (even taxed as they are) than any day out with my co-workers.

      1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

        Bonuses are not taxed differently (in the US.)

        1. Not Me*

          Bonuses are usually taxed at the supplemental rate, which would be higher than normal salary income.

          1. goducks*

            No. Bonus paychecks may have withholding at the supplemental rate, but all earned income is taxed alike when it comes to filing your tax return. If the withholding at the supplemental rate results in over-withholding, the extra is part of the tax refund.
            The idea that bonus earnings are taxed at a higher rate is a pernicious myth.

            1. Emily K*

              Yep, this is exactly how it worked for me the years I’ve gotten a bonus. The withholding is all screwy on it so you only get about 50% of it up-front, but I got a somewhat fatter tax return those years as a result of the bonus.

              1. Liz*

                Me as well. My company has given a generous bonus every year i’ve been here. My base is 10% of my salary but it usually is closer to 15%. And while i only get a little more than half initially, my tax refund generally is pretty generous.

      2. CJ*

        Yes! And this trip sounds like two overnights with coworkers in a cabin (shudder!). I would hate spending my weekend this way, but would feel the need make use of it as my only “bonus” and to look like a team player. A bonus would be so much more appreciated.

    3. Sara without an H*

      I think this could be a winner. Cash, dinner on the boss’s dime, and a paid day off. What’s not to like?

    4. Ellex*

      Now THIS is a good idea. I worked for a wonderful but very small law office for a while, and our boss took us to a half corporate meeting with our main client/half getaway weekend at a local resort. Golfing or a spa day were offered, neither of which interests me, and the beds were incredibly uncomfortable. The only bright spot was the excellent dinner. It didn’t help that the weather that weekend turned chilly (not uncommon even for late spring where I live – we had a frost advisory just last night!), so even the golfing wouldn’t have been that nice.

      It’s hard to find any group activity that’s going to please everyone, but no one objects to a bit of extra money and it’s rare that you can’t find a nice restaurant to accommodate a 10-15 person group, even if a few people have dietary restrictions.

    5. Oaktree*

      Yes, this is the best idea.

      Personally, if the idea is to reward your employees for their good work… well, to me being forced to spend an entire weekend with my coworkers (even though I like them!) would be hell, not a reward. And it might be technically optional but the reality is that you a) lose networking opportunities and b) don’t look like a team player, so it’s not really all that optional after all.

      1. TexanInExile*

        This. I like my co-workers, too, but spending my weekend with them is work, not fun. Organize the events during the work week and please let me have my weekends to stay home and binge-watch Rake.

      2. Quandong*

        Like Oaktree above, spending a weekend with coworkers would be hellish for me. I’d need to take a day off afterward to recover from it, as well. It would be the complete opposite of a reward!

      1. MinnieK*

        I would build on this and suggest that you schedule more networking events that are not focused on physical activities during workdays throughout the year. Lunch and learns, team lunches, quarterly visits to different sites, etc. I work for an organization that has offices all along the eastern seaboard and we meet with our counterparts a couple times a year to team build and network – within the regular workday. Since it seems like your locations are close to each other, one thing that would work is taking a meeting that is normally a conference call with the two locations and turning it into an in-person meeting. We do this monthly with another local site and trade off who hosts the meeting. I think if you roll this out by saying, we are replacing this weekend with 1) big fancy dinner, 2) a nice check, 3) extra day off, plus an initiative to incorporate more networking opportunities into the regular work schedule, you may avoid some complaining from staff about the changes. You just have to pitch it as a new, more valuable thing.

        1. OP*

          Thank you.

          I want to clarify that most of the golf outing our team participates in are not company events, but invitations from their customers etc. This is our only company exclusive golf event.

          1. WellRed*

            Of course, it’s the customer’s right to do so, but it puts female employees at the same disadvantage as the company outing.

            1. OP*

              That is where my original support of the lessons as a benefit idea was rooted.

              No matter your gender, in some B2B sales markets knowing how to play golf can be an advantage. Some circles maybe its fitness classes or yoga, or going out to bars at night. Here it seems to be mostly golf.

    6. bloody mary*

      Nthing this as the best solution!

      This golf trip is spending the money these people have earned for them. Give them the money and let them decide what they want to spend it on.

    7. EddieSherbert*

      +100 to this. I would so much rather get… more money!… than ANY activity my work could come up with.

    8. mf*

      Fantastic idea. If avid golfers really want a golf outing, they can use their bonus $$ to arrange their own personal time.

    9. Smithy*

      In terms of rewarding employees – there really is nothing compared to cash and time off. But in regards to having quality time to spend with senior leadership – it really fails at providing a matching opportunity on that front.

      I work in an industry that’s mostly women and yet still manages to have a very high representation of men in senior leadership compared to the overall staff composition. In my role, I know I have not had the opportunity to naturally work as much with our main Sr Director as others in my role. So when on a random afternoon team bonding museum scavenger hunt I saw we were on the same small team, I was thrilled. Finally some quality face time!

      Ultimately the Sr Director was too busy and couldn’t make it – which is what it is. But it wasn’t that I really wanted to do the scavenger hunt or wouldn’t have preferred extra cash. But the opportunity to have that kind of relaxed opportunity with my Sr Leadership was golden to me different than cash, time off, or a love of competitive scavenger hunts.

      Golf is gendered and thus represents a clear issue. But it’s worth teasing out the difference between employee perks and more jr employees getting networking time with leadership. Those are different concerns and just giving out a check does not address the full issue.

  4. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I’m confused. Why can’t the women who don’t play golf attend the event the same way that men who don’t play golf do? You said participants don’t have to play well or they can drink a beer and watch.

    Don’t get me wrong. I agree with everything AAM said here. Your reward needs to change.

    But if men previously didn’t play golf and attended anyway, then why is there concern that women cannot do the same?

    1. nothanks*

      i think the expectation is that they won’t want to. for example, i would find a day sitting in a cart, drinking essentially alone, watching male coworkers i don’t know super well yet golf, to be extremely boring

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I would also feel the same if it were female coworkers, not just male coworkers.

      2. Snorks*

        If you are in a beer cart, and you are alone, you aren’t doing it right.
        People playing golf will be in teams of 4 presumably. The person in the beer cart will have access to everyone.

    2. Jennifer*

      I guess maybe because it’s still a male-centric event. There are women who love golf, and there are some who wouldn’t mind riding around in the cart and not playing, but the optics aren’t good. I know nothing about golf and am not really interested in learning. I’d feel really left out of the conversation. This is how women have been kept in the dark for decades.

      An extreme comparison, but I know there are some male-dominated companies that meet with clients at strip clubs. Sure, the women are free to come, but do they feel comfortable and included? Go golf and watch strippers on your own time.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Or as a gender-flipped comparison…I work on a very female-dominated team. I suspect that our male colleagues wouldn’t be thrilled if we organised a spa day or mani/pedi afternoon as team bonding*. I think because golf is such a traditional ‘business’ activity, we sometimes don’t see that it is just an activity and there’s nothing more inherently workplace-friendly about golf than many other activities.

        *plenty of the woman wouldn’t be thrilled either probably, but I also know plenty of (upper-middle class, white) men who only go to workplace golf with reluctance, so I think the comparison still stands.

        1. General Ginger*

          I think it’s very sad that we feel that men couldn’t benefit from/wouldn’t want spa days, and position them as women-only activities.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            I see what you’re saying – I wasn’t trying to suggest that men couldn’t benefit from a spa day (actually got my Dad a gift card to spa last year)!

            But I hope that the comparison makes it more clear how silly it is hang on to a particular activity as important to team bonding when it’s just that – an activity – that’s not inherently related to work. I think so many people associate golf with buisness that sometimes it’s hard to realise how cultured those assumptions are, rather than grounded in any particular logic.

          2. Jadelyn*

            It’s not so much that anyone actually feels that men couldn’t benefit from or wouldn’t want spa days, just that culturally speaking they’re a heavily gendered thing in the same way that golf is. Is golf inherently masculine? No. There are plenty of women who play golf, enjoy golf, would enjoy golf if they were introduced to it, etc. Same for spa days and men – plenty of men who do spa days and enjoy it. But on a wider cultural level, it’s a feminine stereotype in the same way that golf as a boy’s club is a masculine stereotype.

        2. Per My Last Telegram*

          I could think of something like a shopping spree at boutiques.

          (I also a female would hate this as much as golf)

          But the whole point is that if you find that your company is excluding a good number of your team because of the activity, then you need to change it up. Finding something everyone loves is absolutely impossible and there will always be someone who would rather go home. But if you see something a good hunk of people don’t like, and especially if it falls on gender lines, then you need to change it fast.

        3. tamarack and fireweed*

          Yes, that. If you have a male-marked activity in a male-dominated industry it’s simply not the same if a man declines compared to if a woman declines. A man can say “I’m not into golf, but I’ll tag along, drink beer and watch you making a fool of yourselves,” and it’ll be his decision. A woman *might* be able to get away with that if she’s invested in the “one of the guys” role (which personally I sometimes do as it can be the path of least resistance … doesn’t mean it’s fun or great). But if it’s three women, and some of them have no business with pretending to be “one of the guys” then it becomes clear that golf is just not something women do for fun anywhere near to how men do it.

          Think of another example. Say, classy British law office, lawyers typically from wealthy or at least semi-wealthy background, privately educated etc. They go out for an opera evening every year. And then times change, and they get more and more women, more and more people from lower-middle-class or working class backgrounds, and people whose parents were refugees and who have clawed their way through higher education and into a prestigious law firm. There is no reason at all for any of the new crop not to like opera, or to be open to trying it out, but chances are, fewer do! And some will feel uncomfortable in an environment that they perceive to be out of their realm of experiences. So it’ll not be the same if any of the old-guard men says “nah, I just can’t stand that singing – you go, and you can join me at my club later” than when any of the lawyers with a non-traditional background declines: the latter will be fraught with issues of class.

          As a rule of thumb, I think group activities should be of the type that if anyone declines it won’t be reflexively attributed to their gender, background, ethnicity etc. . And in a diverse workplace that may mean offering some choice, or even replacing the chummy activities with something less cliquish, like money or a work-related but highly prized learning opportunity.

    3. fposte*

      It’s because it’s *all* the women. The business is sponsoring a special event that sidelines all their female employees. It doesn’t matter if the occasional man has been sidelined too–it’s that every single female employee isn’t going to participate in the main focus of the trip.

      There are plenty of women who do play golf, of course, and if the OP’s business had one sidelined man and one sidelined woman, with tons of both on the course, it wouldn’t present as the same immediate problem.