Family businesses are some of the largest and most durable in the global economy, having managed to remain innovative, flexible, focused and growing for decades, if not centuries. One area setting these companies apart from other types of business organizations is significant inclusion of women leaders — they have a higher percentage of women family and non-family members in the C-suite, in top management and on the board than other types of companies.
A recent survey, called ‘Women in leadership: the family business advantage’, which covered 25 of the largest family businesses in each of the 21 top global markets, found they average about five women in the C-suite and four women being groomed for top leadership positions
Around 55 percent have at least one woman on their board
When comparing these family businesses with overall global business statistics, the difference is striking.
Women's participation in top management globally was 12.9 percent at the end of 2013, and the proportion of women CEOs worldwide was 3.9 percent. Continuing the comparison to the percentage of women on corporate boards, the difference is staggering, with the worldwide average board composition standing at 12.7 percent women at the end of 2013.
The research shows that family businesses believe in the value of women in leadership overall, including women non-family members. Companies in the survey averaged just over one woman family member in a leadership position, but also averaged 3.5 women in the C-suite who were not family members. Additionally, these businesses said they were grooming an average of four women for a top leadership position — one family member and three non-family members.
The survey data also show that having more women being groomed for the C-suite leads to a business having higher growth targets, emphasizing their focus on long-term growth and sustainability of the business, rather than short-term performance goals.
“These findings can lead us to reasonably surmise that having women in leadership is good for long-term, sustainable growth. And, a focus on long-term sustainable growth is a strategy that is a proven accelerator for women in leadership," said Joe Astrachan PhD, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, Kennesaw State University.
How family businesses operate when it comes to valuing women leaders shows a different, more enduring and sustainable path forward for business and for the world economy as a whole.