With family business women holding so many different roles within their family and the business, I am excited to have been asked to provide a column to shine a light on this important topic.
Whilst the role of women and the importance for support and mentoring is not new in the corporate and government sectors, not enough has been done to help women who are part of the much more complex family business system.
Over the years of working with various family businesses, I started to identify a key ingredient that was needed to ensure a long-term, successful and committed journey to create a framework that could support the desire of being a multi-generational family business in volatile and changing times.
Given the change in most cultures from a traditional transition of wealth from the father to oldest son – the patriarchal approach – today’s societies foster a more equal distribution of wealth and business assets amongst next generation members.
The change from a patriarchal system to a collaborative partnership amongst siblings requires a conscious shift within the family system, away from traditional patterns of communication and towards new communication and decision-making frameworks that are more inclusive, transparent and collaborative.
Many families I have worked with stumbled into this collaborative partnership amongst siblings and felt a significant discomfort as they tried to make sense of the changes they sensed were needed whilst still being tied to the traditional approaches.
Change requires consistent effort and a champion for change within the family to ‘project manage’ the process alongside the advisors to create lasting forward motion.
Not surprisingly, I found that these champions tend be the women in the family, as they intuitively understand the family dynamics, relationships and risks that might exist in not making deliberate positive changes to adjust the system to better reflect the current generation.
This is just one of the often unrecognized roles that women to tend to fulfill that we want to explore in this column.
Whatever your roles might, whether you are the matriarch, sister, daughter or part of the in-law group of your family business, make sure to look for this monthly column for some inspirational stories, new perspectives and interesting insights.
Susanne is a family business advisor who is passionate about creating sustainable futures for family businesses. She is also the co-founder of Echo Impact Group, an experience & impact design agency that focuses on co-designing, transforming and strategising solutions to take you closer to meeting your organisation’s mandates around social equity and/or sustainability.