For a decade now, IBM has been one of three main sponsors for broadcasts of the Masters golf tournament, which begins a week from today. IBM technology helps to run the tournament; IBM hosts a hospitality cabin near the 10th hole for its clients and guests.
Reflecting that long and close relationship, the last four IBM CEOs have been invited to become members of Augusta National, a highly sought honor. (The Washington Post puts the number at the last eight.)
Last October, however, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano announced he was stepping down and named as his replacement a 53-year-old by the name of Ginni Rometty to replace him.
That would be Ginni, as in Virginia. And as we all know, Augusta National has yet to welcome a woman to don its exalted green jacket (it welcomed its first black member in 1990).
Ten years ago, when Martha Burk tried to strong-arm the club into inviting a woman to join its exclusive membership, club leaders resisted, insisting that any changes in its membership policy would be made in its own time, without outside pressure. Rometti’s ascension to the head of IBM offers Augusta National a natural, organic opportunity to take that step, a step that it should have taken sometime in the previous century.
Conversely, refusing to take that natural step with a corporate ally as prominent as IBM, with a candidate such as Rometti who has earned the perks that traditionally come with her job, would make the absence of women all the more glaring.
– Jay Bookman