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Women in leadership and robust succession planning among hallmarks of successful family businesses

By Jessica Tasman-Jones

The overwhelming majority of successful family businesses have a clearly identified individual responsible for succession planning, and 70% are considering a woman for their next CEO, new research has found.

According to Staying Power: how do family businesses create lasting success?, 87% of family businesses have pinpointed who handles traditional leadership transitions, as well as potential emergencies that might lead to change in the C-suite.

The Kennesaw State University's research, conducted by its Cox Family Enterprise Center in conjunction with EY, surveyed the 25 largest family-owned businesses from each of the top 21 global markets, including Australia, the GCC, Germany, the UK, and the US.

On average, these businesses have five women in senior executive positions and four being groomed for top leadership roles. In spite of this, a resounding 45% have all-male boards.

Of the family businesses surveyed, 90% had a board of directors, 76% refer to themselves as a family business in their branding, 81% engage in philanthropic activity, and 83% expect their spending on cybersecurity to increase over 2015.

Carrie Hall, Americas leader for EY Family Business Center of Excellence, says even the oldest family business surveyed, which was in its ninth generation, is committed to innovation.

“What's more interesting is that these companies honour their legacies without being stuck in the ways of the past.”

Hall added that 64% of family businesses surveyed plan to expand into new markets in 2015, and are investing in new talent, increased production, and better systems as a result.

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