Byline: Leslie Andrews
Why Augusta matters.
One small green jacket for woman; one giant step for womankind. In a move that prompted a collective yawn and the occasional "it's about time" grumble, Augusta National Golf Club last week announced its first two female members: former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore. Walk-on-the-moon news? Not even close. Hugely symbolic for women? You bet.
Augusta National is a private club, and private clubs are, well, private. Which is to say, they have a right to admit--and exclude--whomever they choose. Augusta National symbolizes the ultimate "boys' club" for CEOs. For women clawing their way up the corporate ladder, exclusion from boys' clubs represents not only a symbolic roadblock to equality, but also a real roadblock to progress. In a study done by Catalyst, asking businesswomen to name the greatest impediment to their success in business, 46 percent cited "exclusion from informal networks," and golf was the No. 1 network cited.
Opportunities to build informal networks--through pickup basketball games, after-work beers, and yes, golf--are more plentiful for men than for women. And it is through those networks that professional relationships are forged. When business gets tough, as it always does, those bonds hold strong. Business built on transactions will come and go; business built on relationships is durable, so the ability to build those relationships is crucial. …