In some cases, generations and generations of family members have played a part in guiding the business over the course of decades and even centuries. The oldest family business on the Index, Japan’s Takenaka Corporation, has been in business for more than 400 years. Meanwhile, more than half of the German businesses on the Index are over 100 years old.
Business success often takes time – which explains why 75% of the family businesses in the Index are over 50 years old. 32% are over 100 years old, generating US$2.1 trillion in revenues. But youth is not necessarily an impediment to the growth, or the scaling of a family business. The majority of businesses are between 50 and 100 years old and account for nearly half of all revenues on the Index.
Sustaining the focus on gender diversity
The 500 largest family businesses have 4,418 board seats in total with 1,041 held by family members. Of those, 17% are female and 83% male. The share of companies with female family members on boards is 31% and is on par with global industry benchmarks (pdf).
Women are most likely to be board members of family businesses in Europe. Of those companies that do have female directors, 54% are from Europe, while 30% are based in the Americas and 13% hail from Asia-Pacific.
Gender diversity among chief executives poses an equal challenge to family businesses as to non-family firms. Five percent (27) of the family businesses on the Index have female CEOs – comparable with industry benchmarks (8% (41) of Fortune Global 500 companies). Female CEOs are marginally more likely to be family members than external appointments.
Gender diversity at both board and management level will continue to be an issue family businesses will need to address. The Nasdaq recently set diversity rules for listed companies, requiring at least two diverse directors, at least one of whom identifies as female3 to be appointed at board level. And investors have made diversity a priority and are prepared to use their voting power to drive progress.