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Does your family business support gender equality

In Australia, while conventional business models don’t offer easy pathways for women to occupy the corner office, family businesses are more open to promoting women to positions of power.

21 March, 2023
Family Business, Partners, Women in Family Business, Article
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Businesses with women in charge perform better, with profitability, performance and productivity increasing under female leadership, as recent reports attest.In Australia, while conventional business models don’t offer easy pathways for women to occupy the corner office, family businesses are more open to promoting women to positions of power.

Does your business follow the 10 tenets for nurturing female leaders? Read the full article to find out.

Does your family business support gender equality?

The numbers don’t lie. Business balance sheets are showing that women in leadership roles enable companies to perform better. As an example, a 2020 report, Gender Equity Insights 2020: Delivering on Business Outcomes, found that profitability, performance and productivity increase under female leadership.

The research shows that a10%+ increase in the share of female top-tier managers led to a 6.6% increase in the market value of Australian ASX-listed companies, worth the equivalent of $104.7 million.

In spite these telling statistics and females achieving higher rates of graduation from tertiary institutions than men, the number of women, who of represent 47.9 % of the workforce, drops by 10% at each step of the management ladder, leaving just 10% in chief executive roles. The exception is in family businesses.

In Australia since the mid-2000s, women have been taking control of family businesses in greater numbers and the organisations are looking to daughters, as well as sons, to step up to leadership roles.

The recent STEP 2019 Global Family Business survey conducted in-depth interviews with female and male family business leaders to produce a report: The power of women in family business: A generational shift in purpose and influence, examining the demographic shifts that are changing the role of women in family businesses, the value that women contribute, the various forms of influence they have and the unique competitive advantages they can deliver.

Flatter organisations, more open to change

So what makes family businesses different from the mainstream? The STEP findings show that family businesses led by female CEOs generally have ‘a distinct transformational and less autocratic approach to leadership. The evidence generally shows that women tend to encourage individuals and teams to pursue new business opportunities, identify opportunities for change and make decisions on their own’.

Along with taking a long-term view of business goals and the plans that support them, family enterprises are more likely to have women in management roles. In some cases this may be due to historic reasons, according to Deloitte in its Women leading the way in family enterprises study, or because the women were the instigators of setting up the business. ‘Many of the CEOs running family firms today are the daughters and granddaughters of their companies’ founders, while others are first-generation entrepreneurs’, it states.

In my own case, although I was the youngest member of a multi-generational business my appointment as CEO was based on recognition of my abilities.

A further factor that favours female advancement is that family business culture tends to take personal life considerations into account. Significantly, family-run enterprises are more likely to enable female staff with family obligations to work flexible hours. Flexible hours are one of the key requirements for fostering female leadership in high-performing organisations, according to McKinsey.


10 tenets for nurturing female leaders in your business

  1. Encourage a culture of embracing positive change.
  2. Demonstrate your company’s commitment to diversity, including through your business partners.
  3. Enable your staff to work flexible hours.
  4. Support your staff through life transitions.
  5. Set a diversity agenda and hold yourself and others accountable.
  6. Build the infrastructure to make these changes possible.
  7. Challenge traditional recruitment values such as linear career path journeys.
  8. Invest in your frontline leaders to drive cultural change.
  9. Sponsor your women staff members with potential.
  10. Develop promising women by ensuring they gain experience in key roles.

At the moment family businesses are leading the rest of the country in recognising

As 67% of Australian businesses family-run enterprises can be influential drivers of social change for all the country by continuing to recruit senior executives gender inclusively. As I learned from my own experience, you won’t know what someone can achieve unless they have the opportunity.

Roz Shaw

After a 30-year career in running her family’s transport business Gallagher Account Manager, Family Business and Transport, Roz Shaw moved into an equally high-level role in insurance, drawing on her industry experience and knowledge of family business dynamics.

When it comes to looking after your enterprise, including key people, don’t hesitate to call on our expertise. 
Gallagher can advise on insurance tailored to your family business’s needs. Call 1800 240 432 to chat about your particular needs.

To the extent that any material in this document may be considered advice, it does not take into account your objectives, needs or financial situation. You should consider whether the advice is appropriate for you and review any relevant Product Disclosure Statement and policy wording before taking out an insurance policy.

Roz Shaw,
Client Relationship Manager