In light of the increasing participation rates of Saudi women in the workforce, many studies have examined the changing business roles of women over time, but few discuss women specifically in family businesses.
We are pleased to have the opportunity to share insights gathered from interviewing women business leaders from leading family businesses across Saudi Arabia, all of whom generously agreed to openly discuss and share their challenges, opportunities, and successes while working in their family business.
We shaped the insights we gather into four themes that emerged during our interviews; the role of women in family business, leadership styles, sustainability and succession, and the unique opportunities and mandatory legislation that affects women’s opportunities within business.
In the first theme, The role of women in family business, we looked at the differences and challenges associated with women's varying roles within their families and businesses. We also explore the gender differences that women face in relation to treatment and opportunities within the family business as well as the role mentors—both male and female—play in advancing women within family businesses.
The second theme, Leadership styles, explored how the traits women are associated with and perceived affect their leadership capabilities. We also touch on the proportional differences between men and women employment rates in different sectors.
In the third theme Sustainability and succession, we discuss how families are now taking an objective, merit-based approach to family business succession and how that empowers women. Additionally, we explore the importance of corporate governance in succession, boards and executive leadership.
The final theme, Unique opportunities and mandatory legislation, we examine different perspectives on quotas aimed at increasing the number of women in companies and in leadership positions. This theme also explores other legislative actions that are being taken as well as others that can be taken to drive gender balance and emancipation of women leaders in family businesses.
Our overarching goal is to understand more about the impact of changing demographics are having on women in family businesses, and their influence on the success of their businesses and their families.
We would like to again extend our appreciation to all our participants who did not hesitate to be part of this paper. We hope this publication provides enlightening and encouraging insights, especially for women in family business.
Key findings at a glance
Mentorship and networking are essential components of professional success, regardless of gender. According to the great majority of women we interviewed for this survey, having the correct mentor may sometimes be critical to getting management and leadership roles within the family business.
The greatest method to assist a woman thrive is to listen to another woman’s accomplishments and provide suggestions on how to improve in business and as a person. They trust that engaging with female leaders will assist them.
Every individual has a unique approach to leadership and job management. There is no difference in the characteristics of a leader between men and women. Personalities differ, yet the attributes of a leader are shared by all leaders.
Most family businesses with diverse board members provide greater value to the firm and the market since they diversify in gender, ethnicity, and age, allowing them to have a collective experience with additional value.
Equal chances, pay, and promotion enable female leaders to grow and prosper because they have the desire within them. Most successful female CEOs of business families have one thing in common: they were given the opportunity to shine in their families.