Women in family business

CEO² Women in Family Business

Current statistics indicate that women make up just over 50% of the population in both Australia and New Zealand.

And in both countries we have more than 60% female employment participation.

This means that there are more than nine million women working in our region and we know a large number of them will be involved in family business—after all, we know that family businesses provide between 50-70% of employment worldwide.

Mix of love and money

Ultimate mix of love and money

Family business is a fascinating phenomenon that has been going on for as long as people have been trading and selling things.

It is the ultimate mix of love and money where family members depend on each other not just for emotional support but also for financial and career security.

A lot of women in businesses and corporations have had to struggle to achieve recognition for what they do and the skills and knowledge they bring to the organisation… let alone receive fair pay or working conditions.

While there are still family businesses that follow a strong patriarchal line, there are also many that have been the brainchild of women or the family has realised just how extraordinary women are at leading and building their businesses.

We have the honour of working with a large number of family businesses established and led by highly talented women CEOs and founders, who are building incredible legacies in a wide range of industries.

The CEO of their business


For women who are the CEO of their businesses, they are often the CEO and ‘The CEO’. They are the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Emotional Officer. Thus, they are the CEO²… in fact, even if they are not the official CEO, they are usually still relied upon as the Chief Emotional Officer.

And while the old saying – ‘behind every successful man is an even cleverer woman’, is probably still quite true, it is wonderful to see an increasing number of women taking charge. They are the original motivators. They start from the initial inception and continue running the family business. These businesses are profitable, long lasting and navigate the constant tension of business and family demands.

Because family business combines love and money, decisions are not just straight forward commercial decisions, there are other factors that come into play. This can be a lethal combination if not managed effectively. However, when it is managed well, family businesses go on to achieve remarkable things that most corporations can only dream of.

Managing family relationships

Managing family relationships

Every family tells us that they never want the business to get in the way of family relationships. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that this is not always the case.

When tense situations form between family members working together, it’s typical for men to retreat from the emotional aspect and stick their head in the sand. This leaves the management of the emotions to others in the business… mainly the CEO²… but we think it’s time this was more evenly shared. It would be great to see the blokes begin to lift their game in this arena.

Many men struggle with emotion… they know their family is important but they often find it difficult to express how they are feeling. It would be good to see a more equitable sharing of the emotional workload, or even just an acknowledgement of how important it is to manage and negotiate our key relationships.

We’d like to acknowledge the critical importance of what our mums, our sisters, our wives and partners do… the amazing contributions they make to our businesses and our families in all areas of operation.

Care for our families

We all care

We truly believe that relationships are the basis of all businesses… regardless of what some economists might tell us, and so guys, we encourage you to get your head around this and do something. The reality is, everyone needs to be able to work both sides of their brains—the emotional as well as the logical. Women are usually well skilled at this; men need to get their acts together. And frankly, it’s just not fair to leave all the emotional heavy lifting to the CEO².

We all care for our families when we are running a family business, we all need to be able to have the challenging conversations… the honest conversations and every so often make the tough decisions, but we do this by managing the fine balance between what is best for our family and what is best for the business.

We know that the secret to successful family businesses is the ability to manage honesty, fairness and transparency—that takes a level of emotional literacy and everyone needs to develop these skills.

To find out how our team of Family Business Advisers can help you start having these conversations, contact us today.

Written by Vivian Crick

Contact Family Business Central