Women in Family Business
28th May 2019
Last week the IFB Research Foundation published the findings of their research into the corporate governance arrangements of the 200 largest family firms. Amongst findings on Board tenure and independence, the research found that “the average female representation on the board is as low as 12.5%, much lower compared to all FTSE 100 companies (23.5%)”.
Today the latest Family Business Sector Report has been published, and for the first time it also includes information on women in family businesses. That report reveals that that family SMEs are more likely to have female leaders than non-family firms – 81 % of family SMEs, compared to 58% of non-family SMEs.
In March the Government published the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship. That report found that only 1 in 3 new businesses are set up by women, and that “access to and awareness of funding is the number one issue for female entrepreneurs across the entire entrepreneurial journey”.
While the number of women running businesses is increasing, women are still underrepresented in leadership roles in all business types and industries in the UK. The whole business community needs to work to address barriers for female leaders – and family businesses must play a part in that too.
In an extremely competitive business environment, businesses need to make the most of everyone’s talents to stay ahead of the competition. Research shows that gender diversity has a positive impact on business outcomes and can boost entrepreneurship. More representative companies can better understand what their customers want and need.
Through my work at the IFB I see lots of incredible female leaders, and plenty more future leaders amongst the next generation. And that is a trend we see in family business around the world. I’m sure that we will see many more female leaders in family firms in coming years. But it isn’t enough to leave it to chance.
If family businesses want to retain the best talent, and to nurture their next generation, they need to think about what they can do to address some of the barriers. Mentoring has an important role to play here Female role models can help future leaders see the paths available to them, empowering more women to make it to the highest levels.
Family businesses remain successful over generations by adapting and innovating. Making sure you have strategies in place to improve gender diversity, and giving opportunities to all, will leave family firms well placed to continue to thrive for generations to come.