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Are Women Heirs Of Generational Family Businesses In The Catbird Seat?

As tables take turns, women affirm that they are no longer the backseat passengers in the arena of business. While women entrepreneurs are flourishing despite age and other myths, India, as a fast-developing nation, has evidenced 15.7 million women-owned enterprises, which represents 22% of all enterprises in the nation (Source: Instamojo). Taking a broader view of the global statistics, we witness an upturn of 252 million women entrepreneurs, serving one-third of the total crowd.

Despite these favourable figures, one cannot deny the fact that steering a business is more challenging for women, as evidenced by statistics. According to World Bank reports, merely 7% of entrepreneurs in India are women. Moreover, studies validate that the role of women heirs in generational family businesses is scant, and the factors within family and family-run enterprises are a matter of discussion. Drawing from GatewaysGlobal’s experience working with family businesses over the years and through our approach ICI in consulting, we have been able to make the following observations:

Impediments Of Unforeseen Succession 

As successions unfold in unforeseen ways, particularly without adequate preparation, the future course of the family business takes a downturn. Historically, planned successions are rare occurrences for women heirs, who are often thrust into positions due to unlikely circumstances such as the sudden incapacitation of the person in power. The unexpected leadership and shortfall in preparation build-up hindrances affecting the future trajectory of the business. This is where we hold hands with our Family and Non-Family Sr. Leadership Succession.

Limited Access To Mentorship & Coaching

Regardless of having potential, quest towards generational business entrepreneurship remains challenging, the limited exposure to business dynamics fails to foster their competence and hinders them from gaining trust. 

This is where GatewaysGlobal can assist you, our thought-provoking and creative process that inspires to maximize personal and professional potential. 

We are an expert in the field of Executive Coaching and has successfully created powerful links between executive development, long-term organisational development, and business growth.

Family Structure & Succession Challenges

Family business transition is an emotionally challenging issue that may provoke disputes over leadership roles and ascendancy. Conventionally, irrespective of their potential, female heirs often find themselves at a disadvantage due to aspects such as a prejudiced mindset, family traditions, societal barriers, gender bias, etc. In contemporary times, despite efforts made to bring about gender neutrality, male counterparts mostly handhold the business economic system. The 2021 report by the World Economic Forum betokens a significant gender gap of 72% in India’s labor pool.

The majority of the business sectors held by women in the country has lower revenue, while men predominantly control the more lucrative sectors. Developing a transition management board and designing a next-generation development and coaching program for the heirs, irrespective of gender, will bring out the true talents, thereby providing an opportunity to reflect on future strategy.  Ensuring a conducive environment that fosters a strong entrepreneurial spirit would not only empower women to excel but could also foster women as the strong suit of generational family businesses.

Thus, the need of the hour is a multifaceted approach addressing succession planning and leadership preparation, thereby bringing in gender parity. It is essential to create an inclusive and supportive environment for successors in family businesses, and this is where GatewaysGlobal Human Capital Solutions LLP adds value . 


Ms. Safiya Nazirudeen
Associate – Business Development