ot all corporate sport sponsorships are the same. The Aramco Team Series (ATS) is an innovative women’s golf competition that stands out for a number of reasons. It marks an important moment for women’s golf, women at Aramco and women across Saudi Arabia.
The past few years have seen women in Saudi Arabia enjoy social progress at home and at work. Some have taken up golf encouraged by government-backed efforts including last year’s launch of the “Ladies First Club,” offering free golf memberships and lessons to 1,000 women. Within hours, it was fully subscribed.
At Aramco, we have a long tradition of golf that spans more than seven decades. We established our Rolling Hills Golf Club for employees in Dhahran in 1949, but our intrepid staff were creating their own informal fairways between the sand dunes years before that.
The ATS underlines our support for golf, but also women’s advancement. We are proud of the role we play in advancing the female workforce, providing opportunities at all levels and in multiple disciplines. We encourage women to seek employment with us, knowing their contributions make us more diverse and, ultimately, more successful.
Women making tracks
Women first joined Aramco’s ranks in 1964. Other milestones since then include the first female employee to study abroad in 1981; the company’s first female executive director in 2012; and the 2018 appointment of our first female board member. Also in 2018, we launched a unit dedicated to leadership training for women, who are occupying more and more leadership roles - including two regional managing directors, one in Singapore and the other in London. Today, 50 per cent of our college degree intake is female and, looking to the future, our president and chief executive officer, Amin H. Nasser, is on record saying that one day he expects Aramco to be led by a woman.
Women successfully fill roles across our company, from engineers, research scientists, and inventors to oil and gas traders, communications specialists, and firefighters. We use our influence with our suppliers and partners, as one of the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals companies, to also encourage them to employ more women. Our College Degree Program for non-employees supports high-performing female science students, and we are a founder of the internationally-accredited Leading National Academy, a non-profit training institution that helps women pursue vocational and technical careers.
Leveling the playing field
At Aramco, we believe strongly in work and life balance. Sports activities like golf play an important role, and this is why Aramco has built multiple golf courses in Saudi Arabia. By establishing the ATS, we are elevating our support for golf and for women’s sport to the next level, signaling to the world the importance of balanced physical and mental health and our belief that women should have the opportunity to participate in every aspect of life.
By establishing the ATS, we are signalling to the world our belief that women should have the opportunity to participate in every aspect of life
As in many sports, male and female golfers don’t usually get equal recognition or prize money. We aim to change that with the ATS. Forming part of the Ladies European Tour (LET) and featuring some of the world’s top female golfers, including Lexi Thompson, Georgia Hall and Anna Nordqvist, the ATS comprises four tournaments, each with a $1m prize. This represents almost 20 per cent of the potential prize money for the LET in 2021.
However, the prize money is only one element of the ATS worth noting. The four-player teams are being compiled in a very innovative way, with a professional captain picking one member, a ballot allocating a third, and an amateur golfer as the fourth. In addition, the ATS includes grassroots initiatives that give underprivileged girls access to golf.
The ATS includes grassroots initiatives that give underprivileged girls access to golf
Elevating the women’s game
The popularity of golf worldwide means the ATS has the potential to reach an enormous audience, elevating the discourse we have in our communities about the role of women and opening up the sport of golf to more people. A trial of the ATS tournament in Saudi Arabia last November included the first and only female Arab professional golfer to play on the Ladies European Tour to date, Morocco’s Maha Haddioui.
We therefore expect the ATS to provide a powerful platform from which to promote excellence, female advancement and golf. We have no doubt that many people, including children, will enjoy watching the series. And we hope that these images will inspire the next generation of female managers, engineers and scientists—perhaps even Aramco’s first female chief executive, or the next LET champion.
The ATS starts in the UK on 8 July , moving on to Spain in August, the U.S. in October, and concluding in Jeddah in November. Find out more at aramcoteamseries.com.