Tell us about yourself and your philanthropy journey. What drives your giving and leadership?
I have spent the last 30 years immersed in the business world, with my efforts more recently focused on the business of golf. Historically a male-dominated industry, going against the grain of what ‘has been’ and crafting a new vision of golf—who plays it, what they wear, and how they feel—exhilarates me. It brings me new challenges on so many fronts and, given golf’s history of excluding women from the course and the country club, reminds me daily that there is still much progress to be made on behalf of women and girls.
As Creative Executive Director of PXG Apparel, the accessories and apparel division of Parsons Xtreme Golf, these challenges drive me to inspire inclusion and empowerment in our work. I am intentional about hiring and promoting women leaders. It’s why my senior leadership team is 60% women. And I believe our company is better for it.
Just as my own experience, values, and beliefs shape my leadership, they also shape my philanthropy. My husband and I formed our foundation 10 years ago to reach underserved communities, marginalized populations, and individuals and families living in poverty. Our focus at The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation is on people—those most in need—and on instilling hope during a person’s darkest hour.
Knowing that women and girls are disproportionately represented among the underserved, marginalized, and economically disadvantaged, I am passionate about applying a gender lens to my philanthropy to better understand how we can improve outcomes for women and girls. In particular, I want to inspire leadership in girls so that they know their own value and can chart their own path. This desire is what drives me to invest in the Girl Scouts. It’s why I have an annual scholarship program for girls. And it’s why I find great joy in seeing Haitian girls flourish in the schools we helped build and later go on to break barriers.
What inspired you to make a #GetEqual commitment?
My own life has been shaped by strong men. First by my father who instilled in me the importance of giving back and helping others, and then by my husband who, against all odds, created billion dollar businesses despite remarkably humble beginnings. Both men have been incredibly supportive of me. But even in those supportive environments, I have had to work hard to create a life that is my own, to assert myself, to lay claim to my own space, and push hard to advance my ideas. I understand the difficulties that women everywhere face—to be taken seriously, to have their point of view valued, to gain equal respect.
Even more difficult are the seemingly insurmountable challenges faced by many women: violence, neglect, servitude, unequal opportunity, unequal pay, unequal power.
As a business leader and a philanthropist, my giving and leadership are both shaped by a shared quality: a strong sense of urgency. This sense of urgency is what compelled me to sign The Giving Pledge—a promise my husband and I made to give away half of our net worth during our lifetimes. It’s also why I became a member of Women Moving Millions and made a #GetEqual commitment.
Women Moving Millions provides the space to link arms with other like-minded women who are the powerhouses in their own communities and fields of work, to listen, to learn, and to move with urgency and intention.
With less than 2% of funding supporting women and girls, it will take all of us, moving strategically, asserting our voice and influence, to boldly challenge the world around us. I made a #GetEqual commitment to lend my personal support to advance the promise and potential that I know women can offer to the world.
How will this bold investment help us realize a gender equal world? What impact do you hope to have?
I hope to see a world that is more equally represented in all industries and professions. I hope to see women in leadership roles in every corner of the globe. I want more women to have equal opportunities and for their companies and industries to reap more rewards as a result.
I try to drive this vision firsthand through my role at PXG. And I try to influence and inspire others through my investments in philanthropy.
Since the dawn of time, women have cared for the world. It’s now time for the world to care about women.