Does Putting Women in Charge Strengthen Your Business?





Is the secret to a long lasting business having women in leadership roles? A recent survey conducted by Kennesaw State University in conjunction with EY suggests the answer is — yes.

The survey, Staying Power: How do Family Businesses Create Lasting Success, polled family businesses in the world’s top 21 global markets and found that the largest and most long lasting family businesses had, on average, five women in senior executive positions and four women being groomed for top leadership roles.

Overall, the family-owned businesses surveyed had an average of 22 percent women on their top management teams. Among the world’s largest family businesses, a whopping 70 percent are considering a woman for their next CEO.

It’s not just because these women are family members, either. Overall, the companies surveyed averaged 1.5 female family members and 3.5 female non-family members in their C-suites.

What do these results suggest about all businesses, not just family businesses? And what tactics can you adopt from successful family businesses when it comes to women in leadership roles?

The study identified three characteristic traits of family businesses that help make them a good environment for women in leadership roles – and that also help improve their financial results, too.



Women in Leadership Roles …

Provide Role Models for Other Women

Family businesses with women in leadership roles offered strong role models to women at all levels.

By promoting from within, they show that it’s possible to not only move up the ranks, but to move all the way up the ranks to the C-suite or even the CEO role.

They Create an Inclusive Environment

Family businesses in the study report that they actively spend time and effort to build and improve relationships among family members and to develop a cohesive culture for the business.

Interestingly, family businesses are more likely than other types of businesses to believe that corporate social responsibility is important. More than 50 percent report being committed to CSR practices, and 81 percent say they engage in philanthropy.



In other words, these companies are concerned with the well-being of their staff, their customers and their communities. Such a focus on people over profits helps to develop an inclusive and supportive atmosphere, which the report describes as “the kind of environment in which women thrive.”

They Think Long Term

Family business leaders’ ultimate goal is to keep the business going beyond the current generation. That’s why these businesses focus on growth and sustainability, not solely on short-term results.

The study authors theorize that this focus on the future and on the good of the business as a whole helps eliminate “conscious and unconscious bias” against women in leadership roles.

Personally, I’d say that a company that has an inclusive environment, encourages employees to develop a career path within the business, has a long-term focus on sustainability, and is committed to giving back to the community — is a business that will attract and retain not only women, but just about every type of employee.



How can you incorporate these attitudes into your business?

Women Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow her on Google+ and visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

5 Reactions

  1. Each company needs to think of what they’re looking to accomplish, who would help them best succeed, and then put that person in the requisite role. Consider each candidate individually since each has a skill set that is unique. If a woman provides the best fit, hire her, but don’t focus on something as simple as gender.

  2. Aira Bongco

    I think it is not just about being a woman. It is about the person. Every person is unique. He or she has his or her own personality and way of doing things. The key is to find the right person. Not the right gender.

  3. Great article!

    There’s a great book on this topic called Make Way For Women: Men and Women Working Together Improve Culture and Profits — it says that the combined strengths of men and women are what make a company successful — but it’s up to individual companies to recognize the different strengths each person brings to the table and offering the right support/environment to empower them.

  4. Jack Yoest

    Rieva, a terrific article — as a man married to a female CEO of a multimillion dollar law firm I can second your points.

    Women do well as leaders — the one word that describes management is “relationship” and most women do this better than most men.

    Also see how to break the glass ceiling: http://www.yoest.com/2008/03/15/women_only_breaking_the_glass/

    Well Done,
    Jack

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