For Emily Bailey and Tina Sparrow, both respected leaders in the OneDigital Hartford office, it started with wanting to find the best way to engage more women leaders in their network. This motivation gave them the idea to host regular golf clinics that focused on creating a fun environment where like-minded women learned the basics of golf without feeling intimidated for their lack of experience. For an hour, participants receive hands-on training from a professional golf instructor, while connecting with other women leaders.
“It’s just a really nice way to get women out of the office and teach them a skill that’s helpful in business,” says Emily Bailey, Managing Principal in the OneDigital Hartford, Connecticut office. “You don’t necessarily have to be good at it, you just have to be willing to go out and give it a try.”
For much of history, men have made up the majority of the workforce with the insurance industry being no different. However, within the last five years, the tables have turned and women now make up 61 percent of the 2.7 million workers in insurance. (Source: 2015 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).)
Despite this change, the gap between men and women occupying leadership or decision-making roles in insurance is still far from closed. This unfortunate truth holds up for many industries, not just our own—forcing women in leadership to be more strategic in how they navigate their respective fields. Efforts like those of Emily and Tina are slowly helping to change this dynamic.
Over the course of last summer, the pair hosted five clinics, one every other week, with a great turnout from supporters. Sylvie, an attendee from last summer’s golf clinics, shared that even though she did not know everyone, “… the group atmosphere put me at ease right away. And being around individuals who truly encouraged each other, not only to be there but to tell them they are amazing was great. This made me look forward to each outing and ultimately helped me conquer some things in my personal and professional life I thought were not possible.”
And now, Emily anticipates an even greater turnout for this coming summer. By word of mouth alone, the event has gained heavy traction and more and more women are showing interest in attending.
It is no secret that golf is highly regarded as the unofficial sport of business. The golf course is where industry leaders and other movers and shakers go to build, foster and maintain healthy business relationships. Yet, few women are ever seen in these spaces.
For Emily, it was important to take the time to invite other women leaders who may not get the invitation as often or choose to not accept the invitation. “We want to show them that it’s okay to say yes and it’s okay to also take that time to build their experience to have the confidence.”
“It sounds silly at first,” said Emily, “but when you get to the leadership level, golf becomes a regular occurrence and you start to get more invitations to attend. And unless you accept and be a part, you’re not involving yourself in the conversations that happen and the relationships that are built on the course.” It’s in spaces like the golf course that opportunities for advancement are created.
Now, as the two gear up for another summer of golf clinics, Emily shared that her advocacy work to promote women in business is a year-round commitment. Next on her list is a partnership with a local nonprofit— where Emily and her colleague, Tina will be working to help women who have been out of work rebuild their resumes and to get them back into the workforce.
This Women’s History Month, we say thank you to Emily, Tina and all the women of OneDigital. We honor you and the strides you make in the name of women everywhere.