Family businesses are increasingly encouraging women. Of family businesses surveyed, almost 60 percent have women in top management positions and over 30 percent list a female as the next successor. (Source). These important statistics show a trend of women acceding to leadership positions for which they are uniquely and acutely designed.

Many women in the workplace display transformational leadership styles, where leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation. The benefits of this leadership style are employee loyalty, open communication through the business hierarchy, and efficient operations from employee-initiated problem solving.

This leadership style may be coupled with an important but often invisible role women play in the family business—the Chief Emotional Officer. This role serves as the backbone for upholding important characteristics that make a family enterprise successful: articulating core family values and managing the dynamics of generations. A female executive with these traits promises the ability of getting the family business through tough times with their relational awareness and leadership acumen.

Maya Prabhu of the Coutts Institute identifies various strategies to facilitate embracing women into the family business:

  • Appreciate the visible and invisible roles women are currently serving to advance the business and its values;
  • Advance a climate of meritocracy, where leadership roles are encouraged (whether it be in the business, foundations, or family council), and the selection process for such are fair and transparent;
  • Be open to adapting traditional business procedures to accommodate the modern woman and her family; and
  • Ensure the right development plans and support networks are in place at home and the office when promoting leadership roles.

Women are equipped to be leaders and alert to interpersonal dynamics—a perfect recipe for a successful family business executive. There is great incentive for raising female bosses; the family business can benefit from someone able to manage family relationships and make best business practice decisions under highly emotional circumstances. So the best question might not be, “Is she right for the job?” But instead, “When can she start?”

Ashley Brown has drafted memoranda on a variety of business transaction matters for organizations in both the public and private sector. She also has experience in reviewing and analyzing a broad range of legal documents, ranging from police reports at the Seattle City Attorney’s Office to consumer complaints at the FTC. Contact Ashley at or directly at 206-757-8284.