Launched on 18th October, the “Women in Family Business (WIFB)” initiative is the first global community to: address the significant impact that women have on family-owned firms as leaders, mothers, wives and daughters; develop thought leadership; and create and moderate dedicated discussion forums.
Across the world, family-businesses are pillars of the economy and have an impressive track record when it comes to sustainability and business continuity. Approximately 80 per cent of private sector businesses worldwide are owned by families. Women have always played a multitude of roles in the family business context, some of which are publicly recognized and visible, and others that are more quietly performed.
From managing the business to developing the firm’s social capital, raising the next generation of leaders, and maintaining harmony in the family, the impact of women is of paramount importance to the sustainability of the family enterprise.
Co-Founder, Ana Maria Matallana, said: “The inclusion of more women on the corporate level has become a much-discussed topic worldwide, both, in family-owned and non-family owned companies.”
Over the past years, it has been observed that family businesses have started including more women as active owners, on Board of Directors, or as part of the management team. The American Family Business Survey for example, found that between 1997 and 2007 the number of female family member CEOs had more than quadrupled to 24 per cent in 2007. In 2013, a study by the Imperial College in the UK showed that 80 per cent of the surveyed family businesses had a female Director, a large number compared to only 17.7 per cent in FTSE 100 companies.
However, the mission of WIFB is to not only look at the corporate roles that women play in the family business context. Co-Founder, Farida El Agamy, said: “We also want to focus on a holistic approach discussing the intangible functions of mothers, sisters, and spouses, as the ‘glue’ that can hold a family business together.”
WIFB has a stellar committee including: leading academics, Prof. Pramodita Sharma, Sanders Chair & Professor for Family Business at the School of Business Administration, University of Vermont; Dr. Rania Labaki, Associate Professor of Management, University of Bordeaux, France; Dr. Claudia Binz, Lecturer at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland; as well as family business leaders from across the world – Ms. Veronica Maldonado, Venezuela; Ms. Dania Besher, Egypt; Ms. Pryianka Gupta, India; and Ms. Patricia Ghany, Trinidad and Tobago.
Women in Family Business’ mission is to begin a regional and international debate on this topic, foster more research and thought leadership, and build a community for exchange. WIFB is co-founded by the Tharawat Family Business Forum, and Mrs. Ana Maria Matallana from Colombia, Ms. Farida El Agamy from the UAE and Ms. Ramia El Agamy from Switzerland.