How Indian Women are Shaping Family Offices & Business Ventures

How Indian Women are Shaping Family Offices & Business Ventures

By: Suraj Malik & Ankur Pahuja, Partners, Legacy Growth | Wednesday, 3 January 2024

Legacy Growth, is an advisory for family offices, family-owned businesses, VC/PE Funds, and entrepreneurs. Suraj is one among the Top 40 Alternate Investment professionals in India. Ankur is a Chartered Accountant with over a decade of experience in M&A domain and has worked across large accounting firms.

When you picture a woman in a family business, which image surfaces in your mind; Does this vision stem from deep-seated stereotypes, whether conscious or unconscious, or does it reflect the transformative roles and undeniable strengths that women are bringing to the forefront in today's evolving business world?

Gender-based role segregation, both domestically and professionally, is deeply rooted in cultural norms unique to each family. Moreover, societal prejudices and unconscious gender biases have historically influenced women's roles in business. Although in the past women's contributions to family businesses were often overshadowed by their male counterparts, their influence has been profound, shaping the very foundation and future direction of these enterprises. Their roles, essential yet understated, have been a catalyst for growth and innovation, steering businesses toward long-term success.

In both traditional and modern contexts, women frequently assume roles of enablers or 'chief emotional officers,' facilitating the ascent of male family members to executive positions. However, in today's fast-paced and evolving business world, this narrative is changing. The diversity of thought women bring is a critical advantage for family-owned businesses seeking relevance and innovation. Today's women in family businesses are well-educated, self-aware, and assertive in roles that transcend traditional gender boundaries. They are redefining leadership, and steering businesses towards unprecedented growth and transformation. This shift is vividly illustrated by figures like Roshni Nadar Malhotra of HCL, Nisaba Godrej of the Godrej Group, and Ananya Birla, who have not only excelled in their family businesses but have also pioneered new ventures like Svatantra Microfinance and Mpower. Beyond these notable examples, countless women in the mid-market and startup sectors are redefining their businesses, leading to substantial growth, global expansion, and attracting external investment.

As family businesses evolve into family offices, women's involvement in wealth management is becoming increasingly pronounced. With more settled rights over ownership and enhanced education and exposure, women are adeptly managing both wealth and business sectors. However, despite a growing acknowledgment of women's inheritance rights, many remain passive in family offices. This passivity, often not a reflection of ambition or ability, stems from a reluctance to assert control, lack of mentorship, or fear of disrupting family dynamics. Women's limited support networks outside the family add another layer of complexity, making pivotal decision-making and navigating critical moments challenging.

Addressing these challenges is key to unlocking a radical transformation that taps into women's entrepreneurial potential. Women possess inherent strengths, such as empathy, acute problem-solving abilities, and conflict-resolution skills, crucial for organizational growth and success. Their collaborative nature, unique judgment, and perspective offer a complementary balance to male leadership within family businesses.

Female-led family businesses often exhibit a stronger commitment to family values, vision, and culture. This alignment with overarching goals propels growth and nurtures a legacy, aligning with the core objectives of every family-owned enterprise.

In conclusion, the role of women in shaping family offices and business ventures is not just a matter of gender equity but a strategic necessity in today's complex and dynamic business environment. By fully embracing and nurturing women's unique strengths and perspectives, family businesses can foster innovation, drive sustainable growth, and create enduring legacies. The future of family business lies in leveraging the diverse talents of all its members, with women playing a pivotal and transformative role.