This week, Walmart and the Network of Executive Women (NEW) of Northwest Arkansas, one of the largest and most decorated chapters of the international organization, hosted the Walmart Women’s Empowerment Summit in concert with the LPGA’s NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G.
While the tournament brings together more than 144 of the world’s top female golfers to compete for $2 million in prize money, the Women’s Empowerment Summit hosted more than 800 women for a day of networking, inspiration, and conversations centered around sparking positive change in the workplace and their communities. The women in the room won’t be competing for a trophy per se, but will return to their workplaces where the competition for advancement takes place every day within the walls of their offices and boardrooms.
Fortunately, organizations are more interested than ever in making investments in their female workforce to help better balance the scales between their male and female employees. Hosting and sponsoring employees’ participation in events like these helps create valuable professional development and networking opportunities that nurture talent, build future leaders, and inspire more innovative ideas.
Golf has also become a beneficiary of corporate investments in women’s empowerment. In the room at the Walmart Women’s Empowerment Summit were executives from Hallmark, Nielsen, Dow, and Kimberly-Clark. In addition to supporting women’s leadership initiatives, Kimberly-Clark, the parent company of the Huggies brand, now sponsors family-friendly activities at golf tournaments.
The Dow Chemical Company is another example, playing host to the new Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. They aim to host the first fully GEO Certified® Tournament on the LPGA Tour. But their vision isn’t transfixed on going green for their own event, they intend to inspire and educate other tournament operators to adopt more sustainable practices.
Women like keynote speaker Karen S. Carter, Dow’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, find it easy to make the connections between investing in women’s leadership, golf, and the women’s game. While she climbed the corporate ladder within the Fortune 100 company, she saw first-hand that golf could be used as a tool for positive change and influencing women’s careers. She made a commitment to learning the game and encouraging her female counterparts to do the same. “I knew that if I didn’t, there would be something I would miss,” she said, “We must be present in these dialogues, which means we must be present on the golf course.”
Women still make up only 25% of the golfing population, meaning most professional women are missing out on even more valuable opportunities for professional growth and networking beyond leadership conferences. By rolling out the green carpet and lifting the veil on golf, hosts of events like the Walmart Women’s Empowerment Summit hope to inspire more women to both “lean in” and take their first swing.
The great news is that these events will help to empower women to take on leadership positions, and perhaps as a result, inspire even more innovations and corporate collaborations for the golf industry.