Family businesses constitute an estimated 70 percent of the annual global GDP and around one-third of the S&P 500 companies in the U.S. Despite this influential presence, it appears that family businesses may be behind, compared to other modern businesses, in discussing and targeting issues of gender equality.
Your family business should care about achieving gender equality for several reasons. First, without considering women family members, your business is pulling employees from a more limited pool of individuals – making it harder to ensure your entire business is managed by family members (and the “right” family members). Second, countless studies have confirmed that women bring unique perspectives to the table, which in turn promote stronger customer and business relationships. Lastly, excluding women family members detracts from enforcing family values, making it difficult to cooperate and collaborate in harmony.
The family dynamic inherent in a family business environment is one of the greatest benefits to running a family business. Although it is true that many businesses strive to promote gender equality, that ambition is different in a family business context. The bond between family members has a force like no other, translating into even stronger connections in a business setting. Accordingly, if your family values equality between women and men family members, so should your family business.
Further, a family business is particularly well suited to achieving gender equality in the early stages of the business. Unlike other businesses that address gender equality mainly through the hiring process, a family business can start addressing such issues much earlier on. For example, rather than waiting until a young woman is ready to pursue a career in business to discuss her potential business role, promoting women involvement can begin during childhood. Surrounding young girls with supportive family members who are eager to witness the positive impact of a woman’s voice exposes talented young women from an early age to their leadership capabilities. Start including your women family members in discussions about your business, bring them along to business events and gatherings, and show them how they can contribute to your business’ success.