‘Smith & Daughters’ to replace ‘Smith & Sons’ in family businesses?

Father and daughter diversityA small but growing number of male CEO’s are bringing their daughters, rather than their sons, into senior leadership positions. It’s new age nepotism – but it looks set to stay as women continue to outperform men in university and there is widening appreciation in the value of a female perspective.

The BBC reported on the success of Smruti Sriram and her father Sri Ram, who owns ‘Supreme Creations’, the UK’s largest manufacturer of reusable shopping bags made from natural fibres. Ram thought his working relationship was actually better with a daughter than it would have been with a son explaining: ‘There are many things that men do differently…If I had a son, he might have been a mini version of me. But with a daughter that yin and yang exists.’ Similarly, Helen Thomas is MD of Westons, a family run cider business founded by her great-grandfather in 1878. While everyone in the family works with the company, it’s Helen who was elected Managing Director.

These types of relationships don’t just exist in SME’s – but extend all the way up the corporate ladder. The road for Anna Botin, the successful CEO of Santander bank, was no doubt helped by her father Emilio Botin, former Chairman of Grupo Santander. But not everyone grasps just how much these dynasties are changing with the rise of father/daughter businesses. A friend’s organisation, who wanted to improve gender diversity, overlooked the message within the firm’s name – ‘Acme and Sons’ had on women as current and potential hires, not to mention customers. While it evoked tradition and heritage for them, it also sent a message that this was a business built by men, for men. What’s the unspoken message sent by your organisation?

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