The first live question International Business Machines Corp. Chief Executive Officer Virginia “Ginni” Rometty faced at today’s shareholder meeting was if Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club had admitted her as a member.
IBM is one of the sponsors of the Masters Tournament, held at Augusta National, where no woman has been offered membership since its founding eight decades ago. Historically, the club has offered a membership to the CEO of IBM, allowing him to don the club’s green member blazer.
“I’m certainly very happy about our CEO and be anxious to know if she’s a member of Augusta?” the unidentified male shareholder asked at the meeting in North Charleston, South Carolina. “No response is required,” he added.
Rometty, 54, didn’t answer while the room was filled with laughter. Chairman Sam Palmisano, standing next to her on the stage, thanked the shareholder for the “very kind comment.”
“We were all curious as to when that would come up,” Palmisano said. “But thank you again. Can I have another question please?”
Bloomberg News revived the debate when it reported on March 28 the conflict between Augusta’s men-only membership policy and Rometty. The first Masters Tournament after Rometty’s promotion to IBM’s CEO was held earlier this month. The club and Armonk, New York-based IBM have declined to comment on the issue.