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How Women in Top Management Help Businesses Thrive

Does your small business have a high percentage of women in top management roles? If not, you could be missing out on one of the ingredients for lasting success, according to an EY study.

EY surveyed family businesses in top markets around the world and found that the biggest, longest-lasting companies had a higher percentage of women in top management roles than the average family business. On average, these top businesses had five women in their leadership teams and four more being groomed for those roles.

In general, all family businesses in the survey had a higher percentage of women in senior management than the average Fortune 500 company. Family businesses averaged 22 percent women on their senior teams, compared to just 5 percent women in the average Fortune 500 firm. Even more impressive, some 70 percent of the world’s biggest family-owned companies are considering a woman as their incoming CEO.

Think all of those women are relatives? Think again: The leading family businesses have more than twice as many non-family women as family women in leadership roles.

The study theorizes that thinking long-term—as family business owners have to do if they want to keep the company going for their children and grandchildren—leads these companies’ owners to be more open to women in leadership roles.

How can you attract more women to leadership roles in your business? The study offers some suggestions:

  • Work to develop a sense of purpose and inclusiveness. Family businesses in the study were very focused on creating a strong corporate culture, showing social responsibility and giving back to the community.
  • Offer role models. Promoting women from within is a great way to show women in your business that there is no “glass ceiling” at your company. The more higher-level women in your company, the better you’re likely to do at retaining existing women employees and attracting female job candidates.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.