Family businesses have positive experiences with mixed teams

Women represented at management level, especially among business owners

5 April 2023, Munich. Family businesses like to work with management teams made up of both men and women. In a survey conducted by the ifo Institute on behalf of the Foundation for Family Businesses, 76 per cent of companies reported good to very good experiences with such mixed teams; the rest were neutral or had no experience with mixed teams.

A total of 951 companies of all sizes and in a range of different sectors were surveyed during January and February, 726 of which were family businesses. The data was collected in the FamData database.

Women comprise 22 per cent of executive boards and management

The survey shows a somewhat encouraging share of women in the management of family businesses. Women make up 22 per cent of the members of executive or management boards, and 21 per cent of supervisory or advisory boards. The proportion of women among the shareholders and owners stands considerably higher at 37 per cent.

Looking only at the 500 largest family businesses (57 responses), we see a different picture: women make up 12 per cent of the management/executive boards, 23 per cent of the supervisory/advisory boards and 43 per cent of owners/shareholders.

In the overall survey, there were hardly any differences between the responses from family businesses and non-family businesses. Non-family-owned companies have roughly the same number of female members on the executive/management board, but significantly more on the supervisory/advisory board, if such a body exists at all.

Family businesses not structurally worse off

“When it comes to women in management positions, all organisations, including businesses, have some catching up to do. However, as the survey shows, family businesses are not structurally worse off here. And women make a significant share of shareholders/owners, which is where the big decisions are made”, notes Rainer Kirchdörfer, Chairman of the Foundation for Family Businesses.

More than two thirds of all respondents have already implemented targeted measures to benefit women, such as flexible working hours or working from home. Around half are in favour of more transparency, for example in promotion practices or remuneration systems. Opinions are divided when it comes to instruments such as raising awareness of the issue among managers or talent management. Job sharing does not play a role.

Against fixed quotas

Only a third of all companies surveyed have the stated goal of increasing the percentage of women in management positions. The position against fixed quotas is clear, both in the form of a voluntary commitment (69 per cent) and in the form of legislation (71 per cent), particularly among family businesses (72 and 74 per cent). “This type of company attaches great importance to agility and considers it a disadvantage if fixed specifications restrict the search for skilled workers for the restructuring of the economy”, says Professor Kirchdörfer.

The respondents believe that the state has a duty to improve childcare and promote women in STEM professions. On the other hand, there is no clear vote in favour of abolishing the ability of married couples to file a joint tax return.

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