It was in the news this week that the Royal & Ancient Golf Club (R&A) in St Andrews has decided to let its members vote on whether women should be allowed to join the historic club for the first time in its 260-year history.
As a big golf fan one of the things that’s annoyed me about the sport is the well-documented sexism that still lingers in the corridors of some of the more old fashioned clubs. However, it’s not as if this has been limited to a couple of the more isolated and rural institutions. Only last year Augusta, one of the most powerful and important golf clubs in the world, opened its doors to female members. And both the R&A and Muirfield, the host of the 2013 British Open Championship and another male-only club, are only just catching up with the rest of the world in changing their policies.
But the fact the clubs are even considering a rule change is a positive move. Golf has remained one of the only global sports to actively discriminate against women. Not just by banning them from certain clubs, but also in more general terms – ‘ladies days’ are one such example – and this is surely a step in the right direction?
And the business world also appears to be changing its ways in an attempt to increase diversity. For example, it was also revealed yesterday that female professionals under 40 who work full-time are earning almost exactly the same as men for the first time in history. And women between the ages of 22-29 actually earn on average 0.3% more than their male counterparts. 17 years ago there was a gap of 11% in full time earnings, highlighting the work that’s being done to address the gender imbalance. What’s more, the UK is on course to hit a Government target of 25% female membership of FTSE 100 boards showing that advances are also being made at senior level.
Elsewhere, a number of high-profile women are making waves in historically male-dominated disciplines like banking and commerce. Lucy Baldwin, the 29 year old Managing Director for Goldman Sachs has reached a remarkable position for someone so young. And Angela Ahrendts, the CEO of Burberry, has agreed to front Apples retail division later this year, taking one of the most senior positions in one of the world’s biggest organisations. Obviously, individual achievements aren’t representative of the entire market, but it’s certainly encouraging to see women reaching previously unimaginable heights in the business world.
So while we may have made impressive advances over the past few years, we still have a long way to go to achieve true parity. But keep an eye out for the historic ballot on 18th September; thankfully we don’t have to vote for gender equality in the business world.