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International Women's Day: What research says about women in family businesses

CampdenFB takes a look at the research released over the last year that shows the growing importance of women in family businesses and the global economy as a whole.

Today is International Woman's Day and to celebrate CampdenFB is taking a look at the research released over the last year that shows the growing importance of women in family businesses and to the global economy as a whole.

Top family business leaders
Women accounted for one-fifth of the names on CampdenFB's 50 Top Family Business Leaders 2013 list – the highest figure to date – reflecting the increasing importance of women in family businesses. Among the names were Simone Bagel-Trah of consumer goods business Henkel and Marie-Christine Coisne-Roquette of Sonepar – both their companies saw multi-billion-euro revenues last year. Adriana Cisneros, heir to the role of chairman at Cisneros Group, also made the grade.

Encourage female entrepreneurs to help economy
Female earning power is on the up – women currently earn £8 trillion (€9.2 trillion) annually and this will rise to £11 trillion by 2014, according to research titled Unlocking the Female Economy: The Path to Entrepreneurial Success by Barclays Wealth & Investment Management. However, women are still underrepresented when it comes to entrepreneurship – the study found 44% of employed high net worth females are businesses owners or entrepreneurs, compared to 49% of men. Despite some good examples of female entrepreneurs from family business backgrounds – such as Mathilde Thomas – the report said women didn't get the same level of support because of ingrained biases in the male-dominated business world.

One-third of GCC family firms have female board members
Almost one-third of family business in in the Gulf Cooperation Council states have one or more women on their boards, according to a study by Pearl Initiative – an organisation set up to improve accountability and transparency in the region. 

Only 1.5% of board positions in listed companies across the GCC – composed of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – had female board members.

Equal heirs
Despite the assumption in some cultures that family businesses should be handed to a male heir, next-gens don't share this belief – women are just as likely as men to eye the top job, according to research by Ernst & Young and the Swizerland-based University of St Gallen. The study, which looked at 28,105 students with a family business background from 26 countries, found 12.5% of women compared to 13.2% of men intended to take over leadership of the family business in the future.

Wives bring "a better balance to succession planning"
Women could hold the answer to smooth succession planning – a headache for many family businesses. A study by the Australian Research Council found maternal figures in family businesses could weigh up both business concerns and the wellbeing of family members when considering succession – helping to reach a decision beneficial for all involved.

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