Golf Australia is making parental support a priority, aiming to keep women in their jobs

It’s 7:30 a.m. in London when Stacey Peters picks up the phone.

“Sorry if I’m speaking a little softly, my daughter is still sleeping,” Golf Australia’s women’s course manager said.

“I promise I’m generally a bit more enthusiastic.”

Stacey has nothing to apologize for. The fact that she is accepting an interview at this hour speaks volumes about her enthusiasm for her job. Being flexible and adapting to care responsibilities is part of everyday life, although it may not yet be completely normalized for women working in sport, especially in high performance.

Peters has just completed a week of supporting elite amateurs at the recent World Amateur Championship in Paris. It’s a huge event for up-and-coming golfers to show what they’re capable of and during this tournament Stacey captained the Australian women’s team consisting of Kirsten Rudgeley, Kelsey Bennett and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard.

Australia’s elite amateur golf team at the World Amateur Championship in Paris.(Provided: Stacey Peters)

Golf Australia’s High Performance (HP) program plays an important role in supporting these athletes throughout their development, including ensuring that HP staff are present at every stage of these international tournaments.

But for new mum Stacey, jumping on a plane to continue doing the job she loves was a bit daunting, and leaving her 16-month-old daughter, Zoe, was unimaginable.

“As soon as I mentioned, ‘I don’t think I can go without Zoe for two and a half weeks’, Brad (Brad James, HP’s managing director at Golf Australia) said, ‘what should we do?’ “Peters said.

Golf Australia strives to achieve its strategic goal of gender equity by not only attracting and recruiting talented women into high performance roles, but also retaining them.

Make parental support a priority

To ensure Peters can continue the work she loves, Golf Australia has covered Zoe’s travel costs and offered to pay for another carer to go to Paris with her so she can feel her best. to do his job.

Zoe Peters holds a plastic golf club and ball and walks onto the green.
Stacey Peters was able to take her 16-month-old daughter, Zoe, on a work trip to France.(Provided: Stacey Peters)

Golf Australia’s Vision 2025 strategy focuses on creating more visible heroes to inspire future generations of girls with more female coaches in roles to develop these players. A key part of this strategy is supporting working mothers through Golf Australia’s High Performance Programme.

Supporting women who have been returning to a career in sport for some time, such as taking parental leave, is something the Victorian government has also identified as needing more personalized attention. The Bureau’s latest scholarship programs for women in sport and recreation included a specific stream for women who had interrupted their careers, highlighting the different support some women may need.

Brad James, Golf Australia’s Managing Director of High Performance, sees the challenges women can face in the high performance space and embraces golf’s strategy to help drive change in his team.

A portrait of Brad James.
Supporting families with childcare, travel companions and ongoing flexibility is common sense to keep women on their career path, Brad James says.(Supplied: Golf Australia)

“Female staff are really hard to find in high performance because there is such a need to travel, especially for our sport where the majority of our athletes are based overseas. Most of the time you serve those athletes all over the world. So it was like, how do you keep having the best staff or keep the best staff.

“I don’t want someone like Stacey to leave, I don’t want any of our good people to leave, so we have to try to find a way to keep them.”

James sees supporting women and families with childcare, travel companions and ongoing flexibility as a sensible puzzle piece when it comes to attracting and retaining women working in sport. . The additional cost that this level of support entails is also something he sees as part of this, no different from other staff incentives.

“At the end of the day, you just add it to a budget line. It’s a priority, and if it’s a priority, you’re going to find a way to fund that. And have [women] within our team is a priority.

Stacey talks to Luke on a trail at the golf course while Zoe sleeps in the pram.
Peters was able to take Zoe on the course in her pram when she needed to.(Provided: Stacey Peters)

“When you look at organisations, they always try to make sure the staff are happy. Now whether you do that through social outings, bonuses, whatever you do, to me that’s just part of a process to ensure that staff are happy so that they can perform their role to the best of their ability.

“It can be to provide a good computer, a company car, which can provide a service to take care of their child.

“Organizations are already doing these things. They just haven’t added this child care line. They give staff computers, they give them parking, they give them clothes, what’s the difference?”

Support is tied to performance

This approach to retaining staff with family and care responsibilities also goes beyond staff satisfaction, although this is a good reason to support staff in these high-pressure HP roles, but to James, it’s also strategic and linked to the overall performance of the organization and their athletes.

“I will do anything to make sure our staff play their part because then I know my athletes are improving which is ultimately what we are trying to do.

“But what we’re also hoping for is that women look at our sport and say it’s a sport I might want to get into, because I might want to work in it. I might want to play in it.”

Stacey Peters plays a shot.
Peters is a former LPGA and LET tour player.(Getty Images: David Cannon)

For Peters, this personalized and case-by-case approach to meeting his needs has reinforced his love for his job, his sport and his organization.

“I feel even more supported by Golf Australia now because of what they’ve done. So I’m like, in it, you know what I mean? My love for working for Golf Australia has gone to another level, because of that.

“I know they went above and beyond for me and so I don’t take that for granted.”

The grass isn’t always greener

Golf’s approach to supporting staff with young families is not widely available in other sports organizations.

Peters reflects on the realities some women face in this space when deciding to start a family, and whether she was also placed in a situation where additional care and support was not offered.

Children climb on top of a man sitting on the ground in front of a golf scoreboard.
Golf Australia provided nannies for its staff during a recent trip to Paris for the World Amateur Championship.(Provided: Stacey Peters)

“If I can’t do a lot of the travel, I can’t do my job too. So I guess you can start looking at other options that maybe aren’t in the sport and that for me, even the thought of that for me right now doesn’t make me very happy.

“I would obviously think very differently because we 100 per cent want to have a family, and it’s no secret I don’t just want a kid either, so I want to make it work.

“I want to work in sports and I want to work in golf. But if they hadn’t been so supportive, well, I think I would be looking [at my job] very differently.”

Loading Instagram content

Peters hopes the approach Golf Australia has taken to support her in the HP space will become more of the norm in the sport for women to gain entry into more traditionally male-dominated sports and into male-dominated positions in the sport. these sports.

“I think in order to keep good female personnel in the sport during this time in their lives, I think that kind of approach is essential for other organizations to make it work,” Peters said.

James also wants more sports organizations to be more open to case-by-case support to keep more women in these roles so we see more progression.

“If anything, just be open to discussion with your employee. Don’t just think ‘well, no, that’s not something that’s done.’

“If more sports organizations can balance adapting a little more support to women during this stage of their lives, more women like Stacey can continue in the careers they love without fear that choosing to have a family means losing their jobs.”

ABC Sport partners with Siren Sport to improve coverage of Australian women in sport.

Kasey Symons is a researcher with the Sport Innovation Research Group at Swinburne University in Melbourne and co-founder of Siren: A Women in Sport Collective.

Comments are closed.