Australian Family businesses will benefit by diversifying their leadership, according to a new report released today from leading professional services firm Grant Thornton.
Diversity of Thought in Family Business highlights the different approach to diversity between the Corporate World and Family Businesses.
Report author and Grant Thornton Partner Kirsten Taylor-Martin said although the survey conducted for the report found significant support for the concept of increasing diversity, many businesses did not appear to be matching that view with action.
“There seems to be widespread support for the idea that greater diversity in family businesses is important and something to aspire to,” Ms Taylor-Martin said.
“But many businesses seem to be of the view that diversity will just happen organically.
“Almost none of the businesses we spoke to for this report had any kind of benchmarking or targets in place for increasing diversity.
“The vast majority of family businesses we spoke to had male-dominated leadership teams, especially at CEO level.
“At the same time over a third of respondents expect women to make up half their leadership team by 2020.
“What’s not clear is what pathway they see to that becoming reality given that deadline is now less than two and a half years away and right now we’re a long way short of gender parity.”
Ms Taylor-Martin said increasing diversity of thought had significant benefits for family businesses.
“People with different life experiences bring different ideas and different approaches,” she said.
“In a business environment that is rapidly changing, being open to ideas from younger generations or from areas of the business that have not been involved in decision making can make the difference between success and failure.
“But it’s critical that the right support and frameworks are put in place. It’s telling that there was a strong correlation in our survey between the organisations that expected to grow in the next three years and those that had a formal leadership or monitoring program in place.
“Achieving greater diversity of thought in family business is most certainly achievable, but it needs to be seen as a priority and not just something that will take care of itself.
“Trust plays an important role in the governance of family business. A family business that has a governance structure will encourage challenging conversations and diversity of thought.”
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