It’s Not Just Ivanka. More Daughters Are Taking Over The Family Business

Ivanka Trump at work. About one-quarter of family businesses in the U.S. are led by a female CEO or President.

Ivanka is not alone.

A recent Ernst & Young (now EY) study showed that women — mostly daughters — are increasingly being picked to take over their family-owned businesses.

And we’re not talking small businesses here. 

EY, supported by Kennesaw State University, surveyed 525 of the world’s largest family businesses in 21 top global markets.

The international consulting firm calls these businesses “the anchors of the world economy.”

Family businesses also play a leading role in the U.S.

“Family businesses account for 64 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, generate 62 percent of the country’s employment, and account for 78 percent of all new job creation,” says Ohio-based Conway Center for Family Business.

70% of these family businesses are considering a woman for their next CEO. On average, top family-owned companies are grooming four women for top leadership positions: one family member and three non-family members. 

It may seem surprising that so many of these businesses consider a woman – often the owner’s daughter – as a leading contender for the top job, ranking her ahead of sons, son-in-laws and other male family members.

“I think women are simply getting more opportunities to prove themselves,” said EY partner Carrie Hall, the firm’s Americas Family Business Leader.

Family businesses have clearly proven more welcoming to women than traditional corporations. There are more women in leadership roles and board positions at family-owned businesses than in the typical corporate setting.

What makes these large family businesses more supportive of female leadership?

Role models. “Family businesses offer a strong environment for developing women leaders,” says EY.  “Women can look up and see other women already flourishing at the top of successful enterprises.”

Long-term thinking. Family businesses tend to think in very long time horizons. “The average tenure of a public company CEO is six years,” said EY’s Carrie Hall. “The average tenure of a family business CEO is 20 years.” That stability and long-term perspective gives women more time to gain experience and work their way up the ladder.

Inclusive environment. Work/family balance is front and center in many family businesses. “People — not just profits — matter,” says EY. “This is the kind of environment in which women thrive.”


About Mari Adam

Mari Adam, Certified Financial Planner™ has been helping individuals and families chart their financial futures for over twenty-five years. Have a question about your financial situation? Ask Mari!

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