Condoleezza Rice Joins Push to Groom Women Leaders Through Golf

  • KPMG adds sport to its mentoring program for young women
  • Game builds character, former U.S. secretary of state says

Executive women who want to groom future generations of female business leaders should direct them to learn science, engineering and technology skills -- and play golf, according to a new initiative by consulting firm KPMG LLP.

Funded in part by the Women’s PGA Championship, the KPMG Future Leaders program will provide college scholarships to top high school seniors, along with golf instruction and a mentoring relationship with a female executive. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, herself an avid golfer, will help lead the effort.

“The game of golf can help develop strong character and life skills, including goal-setting, leadership and personal responsibility,” said Rice, who in 2012 became one of the first female members of the venerable Augusta National Golf Club. “It can help develop valuable traits such as determination, perseverance and the will to work hard to achieve goals. Golf is also a great avenue for women in business to build relationships.”

Although women make up almost half the U.S. workforce, they’re mostly absent from the top ranks. Currently just 21 women are chief executive officers at Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies, down from 24 last year. The disparity is prompting more female executives, through their professional and networking groups, to coach women entering the workforce.

Leadership Skills

“Through this initiative, we are paying it forward by investing in promising young women and instilling the confidence and leadership skills they’ll need to succeed,” said KPMG CEO Lynne Doughtie.

Adding golf instruction to the mentoring, though, is new.

Many male executives have traditionally done deals and forged relationships while playing golf, though the game’s popularity has declined among millennials. Women, meanwhile, say their exclusion from the links and other informal business networks hurts their chances for advancing, according to research by Catalyst, the New York-based advocacy group for executive women.

The 16 students selected to participate in the inaugural program all plan to pursue either a science, technology, engineering, math or a business track at a four-year college. They’ll receive scholarships of $10,000 each year they’re undergraduates. They’ll also attend a three-day retreat next month at Stanford University that’s focused on leadership training, career-development skills and an introduction to golf.

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