WOMEN IN FAMILY BUSINESS — THE GLUE THAT HOLDS THE FAMILY AND THE BUSINESS TOGETHER
At Brands of Kin, we’re always celebrating incredible family businesses. And, when we find one that’s headed up by a female member of the family, it’s all the more exciting for us (as a female led family business ourselves — we love discovering others).
So, when we met Susanne Bransgrove from Liquid Gold Consultants, we literally did feel like we’d struck gold. Working as a family business consultant with FBA (Family Business Australia) for the past 10 years, in what was a largely male dominated space, brought to light one really important learning for Susanne… Women’s intuition, sensitivities and maternal qualities need to be nurtured and recognised within the business unit — whether they hold an official title or not. And so, Women in Family Business was born.
THE FEMALE TOUCH
When you speak to Susanne, you can’t help but feel instantly connected to the vulnerability she shares so willingly. It’s a characteristic that can often be hidden or even shamed within the business world, mistaken for weakness or lack of professionalism. Although, as Susanne points out — during her work consulting for family businesses, one of the biggest challenges she found was the aversion to having emotionally driven conversations. And, in a family business, unfortunately there’s no avoiding them. She attributes her female energy to the way Susanne helps build or mend business relationships. When we operate with “high empathy levels, it means we have a very different approach to relationships or relatedness. We always come from a place of love and human connection first and we build the business around that.”
It’s easy, Susanne says, to have a discussion about the operations or finances of a business. But so often, problems in these areas of a family business in particular, are not stemming from those areas themselves. They run deeper and we need to get to the source of the problem. Which in Susanne’s vast experience, is based around relationship tension. It’s this insight that Susanne would bring to the table. One that was so effective in her time as a consultant that she felt someone needed to bring it to the forefront of business development. Why aren’t we having more open and vulnerable conversations? Why is that not seen as not only a necessity, but actually a strength? It’s this message that Susanne’s newest venture aims to spread — that a woman’s intuition or ‘feeling’ about a relationship is actually VERY important to the success of your business.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF EVERY BUSINESS…
Is a framework of extreme support, that allows the ‘professional’ of the family to operate at their highest level. Without that, the business wouldn’t be very functional. So, along with gifting family business units the female touch, Susanne would go a step further in her consultancy and actually peel back the operational layers of the professional teams to find who would sit alongside those people when they’re not in the office. A lot of the time it would be the women of the family and it was a huge part of Susanne’s role to acknowledge their work behind the scenes. To “reconnect with those women about their place in the business, without them putting muscle around the values and supporting the children, we wouldn’t be having a conversation about succession.”
What Susanne is saying, is that without that sturdy network of support inside the home, there wouldn’t be an opportunity for the business to grow and for the next generations to potentially have a legacy to follow on with. That role is just as important as the role played out by the title holder of the family.
THEIR POINT OF DIFFERENCE
When developing Women in Family Business, Susanne was really clear to make the distinction between this project and other existing projects that hero women in the workforce. In her own words “WiFB wasn’t designed to say women need more leadership roles in family business, it was founded to say that what women do intrinsically IS of extreme value.”
Its foundation is based on the idea that there are already great networks like Business Chicks around, that champion professional women. But there’s a difference between being the champion of your own career and women working within a business for their family. In the latter capacity, “they have to consider all these relationships around every decision”. So it’s to give women a lift and make sure they participate in aspects of the professional business whether they hold a title within it or not, because it’s important that their role and what they bring to the business is recognised. Some DO bring this to their business in a professional capacity, as major players in their roles. Holding space for sensitive conversations that others may shy away from. Susanne instills this herself and has done in her own professional capacity as a family business consultant, citing that — “a lot of what I understand about the human condition is not because I have read it in a text book it’s because I have experienced it and I am vulnerable, so I can hold that space for them to have those conversations to be able to move through the difficult times”.
So, in essence — what does Susanne and her team of specialised facilitators do? Their project Women in Family Business “provide the connections, conversations and community to help you develop insights, ideas, and support systems to better understand the complex system you are part of.”
They offer the space for women to learn from and with “other amazing women in family business”. The emphasis on helping women to truly understand how integral they are to the business in so many different ways, is really inspiring. Hopefully Women in Family Business can really help women to acknowledge that the late night conversations with their partners, the school drop offs and pick ups for their children, their thoughts and feelings around discussions that need to be had within the business and their feminine approach to them, along with SO many other things, are “the glue that holds the family and the business together.”
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