The second SSE Women’s Invitational took place at the stunning Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club. Although not exclusively for women, the bespoke event paves the way for female executives from all industries to mix business and golf.
SSE welcomed around 90 attendees, some of whom were picking up a golf club for the first time, in the name of breaking down barriers and allowing women to benefit from the advantages of doing business in a golf environment.
Rosie MacRae, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at SSE is keen to breakdown more barriers with next year’s event: “Sometimes golf can attract the wrong type of headlines in the area of diversity but it’s a great game offering an opportunity to really get to know your fellow golfers. The handicap system allows all levels to play together, the young, old and everyone in between which means grandchildren and grandparents can all play together.
“Golf has got all the offerings to be one of the most inclusive sports and we want to help create that new world. Events like The SSE Women’s Invitational help demonstrate the positive impact diversity and inclusion can have on an organisation.”
The event was attended by Lynx Golf CFO and Marketing Director, Stephanie Zinser, and brand ambassadors Di and Nick Dougherty.
With gender parity and breaking down barriers at its core, the intention of the Invitational is to dispel the ‘corporate golf is for men’ stereotype and address the fact that women have historically been underrepresented within the corporate golf arena – and hence not shared the opportunities to reap the well documented benefits a golf day offers for relationship building, networking and business.
Keynote speaker Judy Murray was joined by leading personalities from the world of sport and business, including, Jennie Price, Chief Executive, Sport England; Colin Sloman, Managing Director of Accenture; and Liz Dimmock, Founder and CEO of Women Ahead.
Stephanie Zinser, who owns Lynx with husband Steve Elford, told delegates how they are one of the few golf companies, perhaps the only one, to give half as much of their resources to their ladies’ ranges as they do to the men’s, as Lynx fully believes in equality across the sport.
She went on to stress that golf clubs need to think imaginatively about ways of making golf more accessible and appealing to ladies – for example by developing ‘clover-leaf’ golf courses with three loops of six holes and crèche or play facilities, so mothers can get out and play a quick game.
And she said that sex discrimination and old-fashioned rules, like insisting on collared shirts and not allowing phones in the club house, are driving interest away from golf.
Vicky Cuming, Head of Clients IMG Golf EMEA, “Our second SSE Women’s Invitational was a great success and the feedback we’re receiving is incredibly positive.
“It was a day so rich in content and variety – from the illuminating and engaging panel discussions to the fascinating insights into Judy Murray’s career. Our delegates, the majority of whom were senior businesswomen, had a wonderful opportunity to network, meet new contacts and for some, try golf for the first time.”
Participants at the 2016 SSE Women’s Invitational enjoyed either a competitive round of golf, or, for the first-timers, expert tuition from PGA qualified professional coaches. And after a day of golf and debate around the issues of diversity in sport and business the guests were treated to the key-note speech from Judy Murray.
The SSE Women’s Invitational began as the brainchild of IMG and Guy Kinnings, Global Head of Golf, was on hand to open the event. SSE has committed to the event until 2017 and is already making plans on where to stage next year’s event.
Stephanie said after the event: “I felt very privileged to be part of the SSE Women’s Invitational, which offered so many open-minded and valuable insights into sport and business. We were also very proud to show how Lynx as a brand values the women’s game.
“Of course, many of the points and opinions raised at the event about the need for parity, equality and inclusiveness were completely validated just hours later when Muirfield made the utterly unacceptable decision not to allow female members and exposed the sport of golf to global condemnation.
“And in that respect it demonstrates just why events like the SSE Women’s Invitational need to exist and have such a valuable role to play in the development of business and golf.”
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