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Family Firms in the UK Shortchange Daughters

My colleague and friend Lynn Martin has been doing work on family firms in the United Kingdom.  Lynn is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director of the Centre for Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University School of Business and Law.

Lynn has recently published a fun piece in Management Today saying that “common” family firms should take pointers from the royals, who do a better job of passing along power and wealth to daughters.  It’s a sassy article (with a hilarious picture), but the underlying meaning is quite serious.  Lynn did an in-depth study of the succession planning among 110 family firms–none had stipulated a daughter as the inheritor of the business, even when there was a competent and qualified female standing ready.  This happened even when the daughter was actively training and mentoring the son.

Lynn exhorts UK family businesses to “embrace Girl Power” and catch up with the times!

These issues are important for reasons of equity, but also because family firms still contribute nearly 25% of the UK’s GDP.  Lynn says the failure to make appropriate succession plans contributes to a disturbing trend:  70% of such family firms fail to make it to the second generation and  90% fail before they can be passed to the third.

Lynn Martin is also President of the Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and has authored a number of publications on gender parity.


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