Julia Regis: Three ways to diversify golf
Put people first and people will come to golf, says renowned business consultant and leadership trainer Julia Regis.
Regis brings a wealth of experience to guiding organisations through periods of change and knows it makes sense for golf to diversify its boardrooms and committees to ensure the sport she loves has a healthy future.
Regis took up the game a decade ago, encouraged by her late husband Cyrille, the former West Bromwich Albion and Coventry striker who became the third black player to be capped at the highest level by England.
Since his sudden death in 2018, golf has played an important role in coping with her tragic loss.
Speaking to Syngenta Golf, Regis spoke candidly about women in leadership and how golf can increase profitability with a more diverse approach.
“I think women can bring many traits to the boardroom – uniquely I think women bring a level of concern and care to detail that relates to the people aspect of what is happening in an organisation.
“They tend to very much focus on how it is going to impact the people they are serving and looking after. That’s so important in business because we know that, without people, there is no business.
“Being able to bring that set of skills to ensure people are taken care of is really important – that’s not to say that the tougher and harder skills, as we describe them in business, is lacking in women. Women bring insight that’s sharp and laser-focused, we like to get things done on time, but balanced with the impact on the people we’re serving.”
Regis’ experience speaks volumes and she’s highly in tune with the future dangers for golf, especially if the sport carries on in its shell and not broadening its horizons.
“If golf doesn’t move forwards with the times then there’s a whole demographic of younger people who won’t want to be part of something that feels archaic and not inclusive.
“If we want golf to survive as a sport and an industry and to be inclusive – not exclusive to just a small demographic – there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
'We must tap into those skills'
Regis focused on intentional work, young people in deprived areas and more representative boards as three key areas for golf to target.
“Intentional work, to ensure groups of people who haven’t typically had the opportunity to play golf, is important to help level the playing field.
“Ensuring young people, in deprived areas for example where golf feels like ‘it’s not for me’, can experience golf too.
“And ensuring boards are more representative – we have lots of societies in the UK, full of business leaders who have heaps of skills and strategic insight to offer to help shape the UK golf narrative. We must tap into those skills.”
Syngenta-led research shows how diversity increased profitability and Regis has first-hand experience.
“A diverse board brings profitability because it brings a diverse set of experiences and therefore so many different filters that people have seen life through.
“They can bring these perspectives to conversations that other people won’t have. So having a diverse group of people sat around a table, sharing their experiences, telling you how life has impacted them and the decisions you’re about to make, could impact a community.”