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Online forum for female next gens launches

A new online community for women involved in family businesses has attracted more global attention than the US-based founders anticipated, since its launch in November.

Daughters in Charge was founded by family business consultant Amy Katz, who says the online forum, operated out of Cincinnati, Ohio, has seen interest from women in India, Switzerland and the UK, as well as from within the US.

Katz says at the moment Daughters in Charge is building a network of female contacts in family business, sharing interviews, and next month will launch a podcast.

In the States, 24% of family businesses are currently led by a female chief executive or president, and 31% indicate the next successor will be a female, according a Mass Mutual Family Business Survey.

For non-family firms in the Fortune 1000, only 2.5% are led by a woman.

But Katz says women in family businesses can feel isolated and the purpose of the online forum is to connect female next-gens with one another.

“One reason [they feel isolated] is that they’ve grown up in the family business, and family businesses can be, depending on their size, somewhat insular,” Katz says. “The other is that their friends are working in non-family businesses and their experiences are quite different.”

Katz says one common challenge faced by family business daughters, particularly those who have grown up in a conservative household, is when their family expects them to take on a role in the home, rather than joining the family firm.

“A young woman working in a non-family business has some protection that the role she has there is a still a professional role and it’s not likely to be as complicated by family dynamics,“ Katz explains.

Even today, Katz says, there are presumptions that sons will succeed their fathers at a family business. “Stereotypes do prevail in a lot of situations,” she says. “You don’t hear very often of a company that has ‘& daughters’ at the end of its name.”

However, she explained: “The family business can also be a wonderful opportunity for women, for taking on leadership at an early age and contributing to a family legacy, and sustaining the business.”

Katz, who in the past has worked closely with the Goering Center for Family and Private Business at the University of Cincinnati and has a PhD in social psychology, says the website ultimately plans to provide female family members in business with webinars and courses.

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