Business Families Centre

Women of Impact

Come back to the classroom

Come back to the classroomA series of interactive educational seminars exclusively for members of family enterprises presented by the Business Families Centre.

Women of Impact

Women of Impact

How women are creating social impact with value-based leadership.

The number of women taking leadership roles in family firms is on the increase, and it’s having a positive effect on both community and business.

That was a core message of UBC Sauder’s 2017 Women of Impact seminar on February 6, hosted by UBC Sauder’s Business Families Centre, part of a series of interactive education seminars for members of family enterprises.

The talk featured four panelists – all business leaders from family firms who shared stories about three themes: gender, values and societal impact.

“Traditionally women’s roles in the family firm have been subtle,” said Vanessa Strike, UBC Sauder’s CIBC Professor in Applied Business Family Studies, who chaired the event. “More often than not women in family firms are known by names such as ‘keeper of family values’ or ‘chief emotional officer.’”

Today, more women are taking an active role in the family firm, often at the helm. And when they do, family firm profitability goes up, according to a new study out of Italy. In fact, the increase in profitability has been shown to grow proportionally with the number of women on the company’s board.

Dr. Nava Michael-Tsabari moderated the panel – she’s the founder and Director of the Raya Strauss Centre for Family Business Research at the Tel Aviv University. Nava was accompanied by her mother Raya and together they told the story of their family firm’s trek from two cows to $2-billion U.S., and shared a unique inter-generational perspective on family firms and how values are passed down to descendants.

Raya Strauss Ben Dror, one of Israel’s leading philanthropists and co-president of Strauss Investments, shared the story of how she made the difficult decision to leave her family business via the sale of her shares but in the process found her own identity and personal vision in philanthropy. She’s been quoted saying “giving is a muscle that must be trained,” along with one of her fellow panelists: Jessica Houssian.

Jessica works with Women Moving Millions, a global philanthropic community of people committed to large-scale investment in women and girls. She discussed how she came to believe that "empowered women create safe families, strong communities, and healthier countries.”

Erin Klassen-Parkes, CFO of the Klassen Business Group and co-chair of the Klassen Foundation, recalled her first time attending a management meeting – it was under the guise of “taking notes” for the men. She has come a long way since then, and a lot has changed.

Today, family firm boards and top management are made up of 22 per cent women, twice the average in commercial firms. That’s still low, but a recent Ernst & Young reportStaying Power: how do family businesses create lasting success, found that 70 per cent of family businesses are now considering a woman for their next CEO.

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