Interview with Meghan Juday, Chair of Ideal Industries Inc., governance advisor, and founder of the Lodis Forum, and Marina Vaughan Spitzy, founder of legacy planning firm, Tecolote Advisory, and fifth-generation family business leader

Whether gender bias exists within the world’s family enterprises has been unequivocally answered.

Yet, despite the gender barriers they face – or possibly because of them – women are amplifying their voices and advocating for themselves within their family enterprises and the male-dominated boardrooms of businesses globally. Many women are actively demanding the change they want to see, and the resources they need to excel, as they increasingly recognise and understand the value they bring to every organisation and, maybe most especially, the family business.

In this episode, Meghan Juday, Chair of Ideal Industries Inc., governance advisor, and founder of The Lodis Forum, and Marina Vaughan Spitzy, founder of legacy planning firm, Tecolote Advisory, and fifth-generation family business stakeholder, and Ramia El Agamy, Co-Founder of WiFB, discuss the results of their recent study entitled ‘Women in Power’ for which they interviewed near a dozen women who told their stories of bias and success in the family enterprise. We discuss the emotional and professional challenges women confront when first taking on a leadership role in their family firms, as well as the strategies that can help empower them. We also talk about how the boardroom has become the final frontier of diversity in many organisations and emphasise the importance of continuing the conversation surrounding workplace bias for everyone in a family business, regardless of gender.

Key Takeaways:

  • Many women are overlooked for leadership roles in their family enterprises, a trend that often begins early in their lives. Consequently, they can find it difficult to overcome their lack of business education or experience when they ascend the managerial ladder. Even when highly successful in their leadership role, women often harbour a sense of regret for not having the opportunity earlier in their careers – and this delay often hinders their potential to make significant contributions to their family’s business throughout their career. These issues often manifest into challenging emotional obstacles.
  • Experiencing any kind of workplace discrimination is challenging, but when it materialises in a family business, it can be particularly painful. Navigating bias from family members and adapting to shifts in professional dynamics can lead to confusion, anxiety, and anger. However, for women who choose to leverage their negative experiences to expand their professional development, it can also foster grit and resilience.

Image courtesy of Meghan Juday

  • Men often benefit from an abundance of resources during their professional journeys, including mentors, peer groups, and industry colleagues with shared backgrounds and experiences. Similarly, women in leadership roles require individuals who can push, challenge, and inspire them. In the context of a family business, it’s crucial that women leaders receive the same level of support and validation as their male counterparts. In many industries, even those traditionally male-dominated, women are establishing their own networks and building their own support frameworks, but there is still much more that needs to be done.
  • The conversation about bias in the family workplace is important for everyone. All family members must be given the same opportunities to develop and reach their full leadership potential. This is particularly important in succession planning, where unforeseen circumstances can disrupt even the most well-structured plans. Preparing every family member for financial and operational eventualities facilitates smooth generational transitions, which is key to ensuring continuity and safeguarding the family legacy.

Image courtesy of Marina Vaughan Spitzy


Ramia: Let’s get started first ladies. Let’s discuss these results of our little study that quite frankly, to a certain extent, changed my view and my life a bit, to be honest with you, quite shifted my thinking on a few things. I think we all have preconceived notions about what it’s like to be a woman in the family enterprise.

And I have to say, like some of these women and some of these conversations, quite frankly, just blew me away for many different reasons. And let’s maybe start exchanging a little bit on our impressions. And I think it’s fair to give some space here first to the challenges that we did identify because just to be very clear about this episode, and please switch off if you’re not on board with this.

Obviously gender biases do exist and are very prevalent when it comes to women joining the family enterprise. So that is a given. We’re not going to discuss that further, whether it’s a yay or nay. But what we’ve discovered in these conversations is obviously that kind of bias manifests itself in many different shapes and forms. And I think that that’s what was really, really interesting. Maybe, Megan, what part of the kinds of challenges that women faced joining their family enterprises sort of stood out to you as something that was quite surprising to you that you did not expect to hear when you were doing the interviews?

Meghan: I think, you know, most primarily for me was, you know, how first of all, how incredibly capable all these women were. And we’ll talk more about the impact they’ve had in the organizations, but it’s been substantial and transformational. So like, that’s kind of the backdrop. But for me, the biggest thing was really that they weren’t the first choice, many of them. They were essentially overlooked, somewhat, sometimes under-educated or, you know, pat it on the head and, you know, don’t you worry about it. We’ll take care of this for you.

And then there were some very tragic reasons why many of these women became, you know, came into power. And then others, you know, less tragic, but still somewhat disruptive for the family system.

I think a lot of them kind of expressed the sentiment if I hadn’t been overlooked at a younger age, first of all, this job would be a lot easier for me. And second of all, I could have made a bigger contribution earlier on in my career. And so most of these women, because I weren’t their first choice, went out and did something else and actually kind of proved their worth out in the bigger world. And then somehow came back with some credibility and were able to, you know, be handed the reins.

Ramia: Those were shocking stories at times and very moving and very sad stories as well. To hear that they did so well, though they were at best considered a Plan B, if not worse. So I think that was truly incredible to see. And women of such potency, intelligence and profile. What about you, Marina? What stood out to you in terms of the challenges that they faced?

Marina: I’d have to reiterate Megan’s point about the preparation, about the succession planning. Five of the 11 women who we spoke to had an unexpected entry into the family business. And so I think this is really key. It’s… It’s not just that as when they were younger, they were offered different educational opportunities. In many ways, they had this golden ticket of time outside of the business to find themselves and find their own voices. But it’s the problem of being ill prepared to enter a position. It’s going to affect the quality of their performance. It just makes it a harder place to start from.

And these women, yes, we’re going to talk about the impact. What they achieved once they were there is remarkable. But it doesn’t matter what kind of structures are in place if you don’t have the right communication and the trust built up. So what these women were dealing with was a lack of understanding around how decisions have been made in businesses, of what assets are or were that they inherited. And this just was such a struggle for them that was really unnecessary. And it’s not only heirs being daughters, it’s also spouses that were left with a mess that could have been avoided, or at least made less difficult.

Ramia: During analyzing these conversations, we were asking ourselves so often whether this amount of difficulty and pain is actually truly necessary. And I think like one of our big motivations to continue talking about this is the idea that like, you know, whatever pain people are in when it comes to this conversation, it does not have to be this bad so that we definitely believe in ways to avoid kind of like, you know, some of the worst case scenarios that unfortunately some of the women that we talked to actually really went through.

For me though, the biggest surprise was the amount of surprise and that might sound really cynical. I remember so at least three or four of them saying like, you know, I was surprised by the bias that I faced and I was surprised by the sort of like the you know, the discrimination I faced even by my own family. And it’s so strange how we keep on underestimating how little we know our families until we work with them, right, like under these kinds of circumstances. And I also think that family, what for me was so staggering, like it’s like how family enterprises just underestimate the fact that the system has to change when you bring women on board for the first time. Like for me, it was like, I think the naivete of like how it was dealt with by a lot of family enterprises was staggering. I was like, how can you believe that it’s not going to make a difference? Of course it will make a difference if you’re making a woman perform in an environment that was designed entirely for men, right?

And I think that was one of the things that totally, that surprised me because across the board, they were taken aback, right? They were taken aback by how hard it was made for them to join their own family businesses, even though they were all willing to make such enormous sacrifices. I think, and you said it as well, Megan, so many of them actually left potentially incredible careers where potentially they could have had it so much easier than what they faced in the family enterprise. And I think that’s another thing to just highlight was, the circumstances of their joining was very defining in how their path unfolded and how hard it was for them to find their way.

But finding their way they did, as we know, so we spoke to 11 incredible women in the sense that they all somehow found recipes and found ways to handle the situation, to learn their lessons, create resources out of thin air and somehow like, you know, make a success of their time with the family enterprise. Marina, what stood out to you in terms of like, you know, what was your favorite strategy or resource or conclusion that our interviewees came to when it came to navigating these choppy waters?

Marina: I think what was really interesting was how these women so intentionally went around strengthening their voices. There was this kind of active building up of hard skills, soft skills, coaches, mentors. I’m touching a lot of the topics here that we should go more into detail with, but it was, they kind of realized that they didn’t want to do it on their own. They couldn’t do it on their own. And what did they need? Yes, education is an element of it, but education isn’t everything. They didn’t need to be validated by getting the degrees, an MBA helped in many cases, but they sought to create networks around themselves. They sought coaches so that they could kind of be transformed personally into leaders. And it was all of these things that helped them um, believe in themselves, that lent them or that they found their authentic voices. And I thought that was what was incredible when the women truly came into their own power and realized why they were doing it. And they weren’t just doing it to please someone else. That’s when they became really successful leaders, when they were able to transform their boards, their businesses just exploded.

And that was just amazing to see how consciously they kind of like, I need this support. I need these resources. If you want me to take in this, to sit on this board or take this responsibility, I’m going to need this kind of support. So they not only found their voices and what they needed. Sometimes it was financial literacy, whatever it was, to feel better equipped. But they also demanded it of the system around them. If you want me here. This is what I’m going to need from you. And that was great to see.

Ramia: For me, I asked this question differently from Megan, just because Megan, you’ve been through the joining and I was really wondering while we were doing this, how this felt for you when you were listening to how women coped, what kind of strategies sounded familiar to you in terms of like, you know, how to sort of like get your footing in the family enterprise.

If some of the things you’re like, I wish I’d thought of that when I was going through some of the difficulties I was facing.

Meghan: I mean, it’s like it was kind of painful. I mean, even my ascension into the chairman role was not fraught free, we’ll say. It was really challenging. And of the kind of dynamics that I experienced, it was the most kind of painful to have kind of a bias from family. That was like, that’s like, okay, you know, you know me, you’re supposed to, you know, love me, or at least, you know, know like who I am at my essence and recognize, you know, I am not an evil person. So that was very confusing. Other kind of, you know, weird dynamics I experienced, you know, either in the boardroom or elsewhere was, uh, like a little bit funny. I mean, obviously it was troubling because I needed to be effective, but it was like kind of hysterical, like really you’re going to pull this like you are professional adults who’ve been in the workforce for decades. So that was like the kind of the two experiences. And I actually had two different reactions to, you know, my experience. One was like, you know, from the family, it was kind of pain and hurt, which I worked a lot on and now have, you know, resolved. But like, it was like kind of, you know, painful on one side and outrage on like kind of the professional side, you know, other things. So that was like kind of the lens that I was going into this with. And hearing these stories, I mean, first of all, I felt the pain and outrage for each one of them.

And, you know, in every story and there were stories that I heard where I was like, I couldn’t even sit still anymore. I had to pace the room because I was so outraged on their behalf, no one should be treated like this ever. But secondly, the pain that many of these women experienced from the treatment they received from their own family and even their own parents, fathers, that to me is like nothing more painful than that because you know, of all the people who should know you and know your capabilities and know your, you know, your grit and resilience. It’s these people have known you literally your whole life. So I would say it was, you know, it was an emotional experience. The thing that I thought was gratifying is that I was, you know, I didn’t hold myself as an exception when I, you know, like sometimes you’re like, oh, well, you know, you make excuses for others or you deny your own experiences. Like I felt all those feelings in my own experiences and I felt them in every other story that I heard. So at least it was like, I was giving my skin, at least treating myself as fairly as I would treat others, which sometimes we don’t in our internal world. But I think that, you know, of the stories that I heard one that actually just I am so like delighted and proud and enamored by the grit and resilience of this one story and it’s this woman who you know was serving on her board she was obviously extremely capable they were doing a CEO search, she gets called into the chairman’s office as a director and she’s like, I guess I’m getting fired. You know, like that’s like the first thing that goes in her mind, which by the way, note to self, we need to work on this internal voice.

Ramia: 100%, like the full podcast should be dedicated just to that.

Meghan: So she did that. She walks in and he said, Oh, well, by the way, you know, we finished our CEO search. He’s like, Oh, my god, that’s so great. Tommy, who does she’s like, well, it’s you. He’s just like, Yeah, he’s like, Yeah, we’re we think you would be the next, you know, great next CEO. And of course, she was amazing.

She completely transformed the business, turned it around, went from kind of on the brink to now this amazing international enterprise that it is, that is so successful. And she’s kind of in the CEO office now, just a couple of days in, and she’s kind of trying to figure out what the heck she’s supposed to do. And her dad walks in and says, “I hope you enjoy this.” She was like, oh, no, thanks. Thanks very much. She’s like, this is only gonna last like a year. And she just, she basically said that made her so mad that she was determined to be successful. And I don’t, I think people underestimate like rage as a way to build resilience or how people will prove wrong. I mean, it’s a really good tool and there, you know, there were times certainly in my own path where it’s like, you know, it’s going to be me or you and I’m not backing down.

Ramia: Well, I think you’re saying something that’s very honest, though, Megan, because if we’re being really fair, again, assuming here that we’re already in the situation where pain is there. And there’s, I remember, another interviewee whose father said, no woman will ever go beyond being executive secretary in this company. That kind of stuff. There was beautiful, beautiful stuff like that. Then some things were less obvious being you know, almost mopped off your own board by like a male CEO that didn’t want you there and all of those kind of stuff. Like incredible stories really. Like almost, almost.

Marina: But you’d prefer to sell now that your father died.

Ramia: We prefer to sell out. Yeah, exactly. But fantastic. So flattering, so flattering. But I think like, you know, your point about the rage and I think like we do have to be honest about this. I think like ultimately many of these women had to decide, I guess, between just tapping into some sort of anger or some sort of like sort of justifiable resentment in order to get out of it. Because I think the alternative was to allow everyone to walk over them. And I think some of them have more support than others, like some were really truly alone, I think, and others definitely weren’t people so fortunate to speak to one or two women who actually had very supportive fathers as opposed to the rest and who were actually very supported, which also came with its challenges because you’re constantly underestimated by the environment then because your parent is so supportive that they feel you’re entitled, right? So there’s that double-edged sword between parents being supportive or not, right?

But then I felt like all of them… That might have been sort of like an ignition point for many of them, right? Like it was like a turning point where it’s like, OK, so this enough is enough and I’m going to show you what I’m capable of. But I felt like the only ones who were truly and not all of them were, unfortunately, but all of all of the ones that truly seemed content now, like and seemed to have moved past that, were the ones who and Marina actually put in that word, I remember in the research were the ones that had achieved some sort of level of self-forgiveness in terms of how they were being kinder to themselves. Trying to find a way back to their own authenticity, so not play into this game of trying to be someone they weren’t, like trying to compensate for something they couldn’t possibly ever be, like especially if you’re the plan B, you’re not the official successor.

No one wanted you here and you’re like, you know, you’re whatever was left. So I think I think that for me was very impressive to see how from that, from that anger, some of them really got to that point where they were like, there was this deep acceptance and then came agency. And I’m very excited about agency, as you both know. I love agency. I love it when women realize that they actually have agency over a, like, you know, how they live their lives and B, how they’re being perceived.

I think that was really important. And I think another one who said like, you know, her freedom, I think, came when she started asking for adequate resources. And I think that is like one of those things that women almost never do, almost never do at the right time. She was so impressive. She basically said,

It was very clear they wanted me to do the job that nobody else wanted, really. Right. Like, so like the prototypical definition of a glass cliff, but she, instead of just blindly taking it and being grateful for getting any kind of like seat at the table, she was very clear about, well, if you want me to do this job, then these are the resources I require, which I thought like, you know, I don’t know, Marina, how you remember that, but I, that just blew my mind. I was like, Oh my God, I should have done that 100 times in my life. 100 times, you know?

Marina: I completely, and that’s what I was alluding to before, it was, you know, how did they equip themselves? It wasn’t just kind of their own skills that they were building up, but just realizing that they weren’t going to be token women on the board or in a management position or just as a shareholder who was going to sit there and be quiet. They were like, right. This is how I need to observe the board and learn. This is the information you’re gonna need to give me. This is the support that you’re gonna need me because I’m also a mother, this realization that one does need to take care of oneself. You know, there was honesty in these women. One of them kind of really pointedly said, it’s the phone call from a friend and from the peers who check in on you as a human being.

And it’s one thing we haven’t spoken about now, are the mentors and the peer groups who aren’t there. Men on their professional journeys meet mentors much sooner on than women. And it’s really important for women and families and in any kind of leadership role in life to have people who can push them, who can inspire them, who can challenge them, who can bring them back down to earth, tell them they’re not crazy. All of that to help them figure out who they are and to learn and to aspire to. And so many of these women didn’t have women to look up to. And so what was really remarkable to see is that how many of these women have created peer groups for themselves and their industries. So we looked at different industries from construction and medical and banking and looking for women in similar positions in these industries and creating groups for other women. So it didn’t need to be so hard. So I think this act of asking other people, saying this is what I’m going to need to do it, because I think this is something that’s really a tangible change in where family businesses are going, is that it’s not that just more women are going to inherent positions and come into leadership positions and family businesses, but family businesses are going to need to actively try to retain women. Because if they want to be innovative and continue to grow with the world, they can’t stay always doing what they’re doing just because times change, technologies needs interest change. So to be innovative, they need to be diverse, promote independent thinking, and it’s gotta be a rewarding workplace.

And it was interesting because two of the women who we spoke to chose not to go into their family businesses because it was the wrong kind of culture. And they didn’t believe in it. And we’re seeing that, we’re seeing a younger generation of women who… it’s not just impact as the buzzword and Gen Z. They’re looking at their tax planning. They’re looking at the kind of structures that they have. They’re looking at it at their staff. One woman who said she truly doesn’t know if her business would have survived Corona if her father had still been in a leadership position because of the relationship there was with the staff. You know, so there’s strengths from male leadership and from female, but I really think that there’s this big shift that’s coming with the what women want from their family businesses and what the businesses are gonna need to do to say actually we’re good enough for you to join and you want to join us.

Ramia: I’m very passionate about the reversal of that conversation and how you just highlighted it Marina, because I think one of the most frustrating things about doing this kind of research is that we’re forced into this role play that we, I think all of us kind of despise, which is like this conversation about women in, and it’s sort of like implies, which is ironic on a podcast called women in family business, like I can’t change the name anymore guys like that’s it. Like it’s been like for 10 years, but, but essentially.

The implication of a lot of these conversations is that the whole pressure and the whole responsibility lies with the women to change and mold themselves into shapes and forms that don’t come naturally to them and that correspond to the systems that exist, but not to their own strength and sort of like not putting them in a position where they can truly thrive. And so many of them, when you talk to them, like I think that was exactly what you mentioned. There was this deep need to, I guess, compensate for the fact that you weren’t that man that was expected to take over, and that you were, and you could never be. And I think the big point that you made here about culture, and this was actually one of the biggest impacts we also saw, right? Almost every one of these women, by joining their family enterprise, changed the culture, changed the governance of the family business. Many of them improved like,

Megan mentioned her friend who improved the bottom line to a crazy extent. Others introduced insane innovation levels, right? Like so and I think that’s like sort of the impact that they have. And I actually mostly get annoyed about in this conversation that I’m still having to argue that case, like, you know, why is it great to have women on board? Are you kidding me? Like, why do we still have to discuss this? Like, you know, the results are so, so tangible. So and Megan, you with the Lotus Forum, what you’re doing, you know, you work with the Lotus Forum. I feel like, you know, this is, this must be the kind of conversation that you guys are having a lot. It’s like, you know, why do we still have to have this part of the conversation? Why can’t we just like, you know, look to changing the systems as opposed to changing the women? I don’t know how you experienced that. Also, when it comes to like exchanging with all these fellow chairs, like all these women who’ve gotten to the highest possible level in the organizational ladder, right? Like, and still we’re having to have like this level of peer support and understanding because it’s just so hard.

Meghan: I think the board is the final frontier of kind of diversity, kind of getting to any diversity levels. I think it’s kind of obvious in the rest of businesses. And businesses, I think, are starting to make a more concerted effort, somewhat half-hearted at times, but I think others are taking it quite seriously. I think the boardroom is, it’s kind of a, it’s a bit of a protectionist environment. People don’t really wanna change. It’s pretty easy money if you don’t, really aren’t asked to do anything. And so I think there’s a kind of a resistance to change. And also I think there’s this, I actually was speaking with somebody anecdotally, maybe like, you know, this time last year, I haven’t spoke to him since he was kind of more than middle-aged white guy, we’ll just say. And he said, well, I’ll never be on another board again. And I was like, oh, really?

It was like, oh yeah, because everybody wants, you know, women and diversity. And I was like, well, you know, do you not think you have anything to add? I mean, he was like somewhat resentful that he was now going to have to compete. For a board role. I mean, it’s like, you know, women are competing for the smallest number of roles forever.

And you know, there’s a guy who obviously has enjoyed a wonderful career and had served on many boards. And he was somewhat resentful that he was now going to have to apply. And he might not get chosen. It’s actually like, I mean, kind of hysterical, like funny. But he was like feeling really sorry for himself. And I was like, well. I didn’t want to like twist the knife. I just, you know, pushed it in a little bit. I didn’t want to.

Ramia: You pushed it a little further, that’s good.

Meghan: I didn’t want, I mean, first of all, this was not a person I knew, I wasn’t really gonna challenge them, so I just kind of set it free and was like, well, welcome to the world of board searches, what the rest of us have to do.

But I think you mentioned something about kind of authenticity, and that was one of the real themes that I saw in a lot of these stories with when we were kind of asking people to share the arc of their journey. How did you get it, you experience, you know, what is it like now? So you really got to kind of see the before the middle and now kind of in the now, which is essentially the actor of the struggle, because all these women are very well, you know, secured and in their positions, and they’re very effective. And I think they, based on just kind of, you know, not all of them really said the word, but a lot of them really did talk about their challenges with finding the right style of leadership and finding out who they are as a leader and determining. And, Marina, you mentioned the culture. The culture is what you want the culture to be. And so they really putting, not carrying the torch of what was. Obviously, you want to keep the things that are working well, but not a whole hog, you definitely need to analyze it and figure out what’s working, what’s not working and take some steps to make some moves. And I think that there was this kind of struggle to find a place. And I mean, this is really, Ramia, what you’re saying is, there was a struggle to find out who they could be. And there is a certain level of vulnerability and there’s a certain level of like, I don’t really care anymore now, like, you know, how you’re going to judge me or think of me.

But that kind of shedding of the stuff that’s not working, the mantle of what was before, even if it was, you know, a hundred year legacy of something that needed to change, like it was okay to kind of take that leap and change it. And I think that was the true blossoming of authenticity. And some of the stories of women who tried too hard to fit in, you know, like being, you know, there was one story of somebody that was really in like ultra male dominated industry. And she kind of took on the persona of a man, like dressing like a man, you know, doing, like saying, even though she had little kids at home, like staying out late and like, you know, cutting our hair, like the whole deal. Like she really, I mean, she was, she didn’t, in her mind, she didn’t know how else to do it, right? And so, and then she talked a lot about the burnout she experienced because it wasn’t really truly who she was authentically. She wanted to be home with her kids. She wanted to be really effective and be taken seriously in her role, but she also wanted to be, you know, of her full self.

Giving yourself that permission to be your full self into is authentic. And guess what that does? I mean, this is the magic, Ramia, of like, when you bring women into the office, or into a boardroom is if they are, if they, you know, are able to create a space where they can truly be authentic, like who they are, that’s where the magic happens. That’s kind of why I don’t like these, you know board training programs, because like, who are you training them to be? Who are you training them to be? Like, you know, yes, I want you to have a skillset and resources and expertise, but at the same time, I want you to be who you are.

Ramia: What you’ve just said now, it obviously, that for us in our view, applies to any next gen for the family business, whether there be male or female or everything in between. And I think that’s just such an important message here.

Like, you know, why would we assume that female members of the family would require that kind of support and acceptance less? And why would we put them through such a harder process? And…this also brings me sort of to the last point of what we want to want to talk about today, which is. And I actually get asked this a lot, I get asked a lot why I’m doing this podcast. Like, you know, why am I still making the distinction? Am I not feeding into us making a difference between men and women in the family business? And is it not like amplifying the bias? And my answer is always the same. I’ll be more than happy to quit as soon as it’s fair and equal.

And I really will, like we will, we will hang up the mantle the moment that it’s like, you know, it actually is fair and equal. We will, I will stop this podcast in a heartbeat. Uh, but the fact of the matter is, is that it’s not, and I think this is also brings us kind of like, you know, to, um, I do want to talk briefly about. Why the three of us are so motivated to continuing this particular conversation. So why do we want to have more research about this? And, and I think a large part of of what’s been said today kind of like already confirms that. I think what is extremely important is that from my perspective, we talk a lot about women in these situations and we don’t talk enough with women and we don’t let women talk enough about it. And I think like a big part of what we’re trying to do here, amplifying it by research and sort of like these deeper conversations that are naturally anonymous because of their nature and their candidness. But I think a part of that is like to sort of rectify that part.

But maybe from the two of you as well, Marina, in particular you, I know you have like very, very strong views on why you think us like continuing exploring this topic to this extent and in this depth is going to be very, very important in the future.

Marina: It is so important to continue this. And I want to talk also about, it’s about women, but it is about the men. It’s about the boys, because the way we’ve been doing things affects the whole family. You know, it’s encouraging the boys to take on the hard skills. They also need the soft skills. They also need to be given choices. They also need to be heard and asked what they wanted.

And it’s the sons and the daughters, the husbands, wives, everyone deserves to be given the same opportunities. And it’s not about developing the next CEO, it’s about developing each individual family members, potential and leadership potential because succession doesn’t always go to plan. Even if there’s communication, even if there’s trust, even if there are structures, sometimes shit hits the fan. You know, there’s an unexpected death, there’s anything. So it’s about how do you equip? And so I work with families, helping them feel emotionally and financially prepared for a transition as a wealth holder.

And we see this, this work that we’ve been doing with women, like you said, it’s about giving them opportunities to speak, to tell their own stories. And it’s so that women, men, next generation family members out there realize that they’re not alone, that these struggles are happening everywhere. And what can they do that makes it a little bit easier? Is it a peer group? Is it financial literacy? Is it learning how the board is working?

And here’s a scary statistic, 80% of women die on their own. 80% of men die married. You know, so it’s not just the next generation. It’s the older generation. How were they being supported? How were they being informed? Who did they talk to? Where did they get the information? And as advisors and as family members how do we make sure that people’s values are built into the services that they’re getting, that they’re listened to, instead of being prescribed? You know, we can talk about governance and families should have it, and estate planning, of course it’s important, but unless you have these relationships, unless you have this confidence, unless you know that you’re not alone, it doesn’t really mean much at the end of the day. So I think it’s so important if we can continue this research that families out there of every generation can see what other tools other people are using to equip themselves.

Meghan: I really couldn’t agree more. And I think, you know, one of the biggest, I mentioned this earlier, but it’s like so haunting me is what is happening to these parents. I mean, of these women that we interviewed who were not the first choice, many of those first choices died from drug addiction or alcohol, or, you know, they’re still suffering from alcohol or, you know, you know, depression and things like that. And that to me is like the biggest tragedy that people’s lives are being destroyed from the pressure of being chosen first.

And imagine if you had a family where everybody, first of all, it didn’t even have to be a family member. By the way, you can have an outside CEO. Like there are other choices. You don’t have to destroy family members in order to be able to carry on this amazing, incredible legacy that changes people’s lives, right? So I think that’s, I also think that, I agree with you, Marina, nobody should be doing this by themselves.

And from this research, if we can help anybody, particularly women, in shortening the path, we heard of women who were going through years long struggles to kind of get to that kind of authentic self where they were really ultra successful and not, and room for themselves and room for the family business. And I think that’s the, if we can shorten people’s paths, if we can develop resources, if we can find those peer groups and help people get set up where it makes sense to me, that’s one of the best things that anybody could do. And if ever I have a struggle or a challenge, I’m always motivated to help people get through those similar struggles and challenges faster or better than I did because it kind of makes my journey more worth it. So it’s, you know, but I find these stories very, you know, very inspiring. I celebrate all of the successes of everybody who we spoke with.

It’s been really, really special journey. And one of the biggest benefits is having to have met and worked with you both has been such a privilege.

Ramia: Yeah, 100% and absolutely. And we will hopefully bring more of that kind of content to this podcast and to many other outlets are, I was going to call it our righteous outrage, our pain that is not in vain. So we will explore these things more deeply, hopefully over the next year, as we continue our research into women in power, particularly in the family enterprise.

Thank you, Marina. Thank you, Megan, for quite frankly existing and being on this podcast with me today.

Marina: It’s a huge privilege Ramia. Thank you, thank you and to Megan.

Meghan: Thank you.



More from the Women in Power project:

Empowering Women in Family Enterprises: Breaking the Succession Planning Barrier

Don’t Do It Alone: The Power of Mentoring and Peer Networks for Women in Family Enterprises