Editor Emma Ballard speaks to Kendall Murphy, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Troon

In November of 2021, Troon announced Kendall Murphy as the company’s first Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Women & Golf spoke to Kendall about his role, how Troon are looking to set the standard for DEI and his thoughts on what the future holds for the golf industry as we strive to make it more diverse, equitable and inclusive.

Tell us your thoughts on diversity, equality and inclusion within the golf industry

Diversity, equality and inclusion has been a hot topic over the past couple of years, with all the social injustice going on around the world and the awareness being brought to it. But it's obviously been an issue for many, many years.

There have been people on the frontlines fighting, me being one of them, and along with my mentors, trying to ensure that there's equality across the board, especially in the golf space.

My mission has always been to make golf better for the person behind me than it was for me. So whatever I've gone through, I don't want anybody to ever go through that again, or whatever people before me have gone through, they don't want me to go through that again.

With that mentality, we continue to make the sport better, but the industry better as well.

When it comes to women, we're dealing with a huge equality barrier with pay, merit raises and job titles. We're fighting through these battles for equality, because it doesn't make sense that just because you're a woman, that you're not qualified for XYZ promotion, or to be paid XYZ, and it goes across the board exponentially when you are a woman of colour. Now you're almost a double minority. Not only are you a female, but now you're also somebody of colour. This puts you into a totally different box.

It’s recognizing the faults that we have, and having these difficult conversations and these uncomfortable conversations for some, that's the first step. And now that we've been able to have a couple of conversations, and be able to realise what we are doing and what we aren't doing. We're able to put systems in place so that we can correct it. And we're able to do self-correcting activities.

Al Hamra GC
Al Hamra Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah

With Troon, we're able to look at our job mix and understand, are we actually being equal when it comes to men and women? Are we being equal when it comes to people from different racial background? Are we being equal across the board, and we're able to make these intentional decisions to ensure that we're doing these things properly? So and that's what every company and industry has to do, we have to self-correct ourselves.

At the end of the day, now that we’ve realized that we have a problem, and that we're not doing the correct things, we now have to do the right thing to fix it. That's what we're urging the golf industry to do right now.

You touched on it there but what specifically have Troon been doing to set the standard within the golf industry for DEI?

Obviously, the first point is that they hired me to head up the DEI for the company. That in itself was a huge change. A first of its kind at a golf management company and we’re the largest golf management company in the world.

That was a huge undertaking to bring me into a senior role, to evaluate what the company was doing, and to put corrective action in place. Since I started, within our company, we've been very receptive to making corrective action. We've been very receptive to analyzing what we're doing and what we're not doing, and assessing our associates’ needs.

We're listening to our associates from all different backgrounds and saying: ‘What would make you feel more welcome and make you feel more comfortable? What are you lacking here within the company? What can we do with education and mentorship? Is it pay? Is it merit raises? Is it promotion? What are we doing or not doing?’

I've seen a healthy dose of our company putting in the legwork and being able to come up with strategies to ensure that all of our associates across the world feel as comfortable as possible, and are treated as equally as possible as well.

Costa Navarino
Costa Navarino in Greece

How do you manage to make sure all your associates are happy when Troon is such a large global company?

Every place is different, even if you go by the States, every state is different. Every state has their own socio-economic issue, their own political issues, every state is going to be different. When you take that as a microcosm and put it on a globe perspective, Dubai is going to be different to South Africa, South Africa is going to be different from Australia. Australia will be different from Malaysia.

We have to look at every case individually and treat each situation as its own. But treated with the respect of looking at it through a diverse, equitable and equal lens, so that we're able to fix it for that area.

What may work in one country may not be the way we want it to be in America, it may be better, or maybe worse, we have to look at it from what that country does and what we expect from that country. Then be able to make sure that our associates are treated equal based upon what's going on there.

However, we’re obviously pushing the most equitable, most equal situations possible, even if it's a trendsetter for that area. Even if it's different, if they're like, well, we don't treat women that way. Well, we explain that they should. Giving corrective examples on why it's important to make sure that people are equal. To make people feel welcome and make people feel excited to come to work for you, how their diversity of thought and how they think better for you, actually helps your business. To be able to get that story told. That's what we're really going after.

Are you optimistic about what the future holds for the golf industry when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion?

I would say I am optimistic. I wouldn't have been optimistic a year ago, to be honest with you, but seeing what the industry as a whole have been doing, serving on a ton of industry coalitions and boards, and seeing the momentum that we have here in America and moving it across the globe. I am optimistic. But I'm cautiously optimistic, right?

Because we've been here before, where we have all the industries coming together and we’re singing the same tune, we're like, let's do this together. Now, it's all about what work are we going to put in to ensure that either these monies that we've raised to get more people to play golf, or this awareness that we made to bring pay equity up, where do we put our focus next? Where do we focus our attention to make sure that the industry is actually going to maintain what we're doing, and to actually advance it. I believe we're going to do that, I believe that we have the correct people in place to make it happen. We just have to make sure that we don't take our foot off the gas. That we continue to push the needle.

Els Club Desaru Coast
The Els Club Desaru Coast in Malaysia

I think with Troon investing in myself and DEI on a move-forward basis. With Troon being the largest golf management company on the globe, that we can be that leader, and we can be that benchmark. We can say listen, this is what has to happen, this is what we're doing and if you don't do what we're doing, we're just going to absorb all your associates, and they will come work for us, which is just fine for us.

We want to make sure that the golf industry has the ability to self-correct itself. To ensure that every boy, every girl of any background, of any creed, of any sexual orientation, can come into this business, to come into this game, and feel comfortable and have a blast. To enjoy the sport and the industry that we love. We love this game because it's an amazing game. It's one of the most frustrating games at the same time! But it's also the most fun game. We want everybody to be able to experience that and not feel uncomfortable.

I feel optimistic. I believe we're on the right track. I believe we're doing the right things. We have people in place to be able to push this deal forward. The governing bodies of golf are all on board. Right now it's just time for us to roll up our sleeves and just continue to go to work.

Find out more about how Troon are setting the benchmark for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in the golf industry via their website here.