Survey: Woman-Owned Firms Do More With Less

August 26, 2003 ( - Working with a woman-owned family business may not just be fashionable, in may also be an ultimately profitable corporate policy, a new survey found.

According to the survey sponsored by MassMutual Financial Group and Babson College, the woman-owned family firms are not only a growing segment of the US economy, compared to companies run by men they are:

  • on average more productive
  • a decade younger
  • more likely to follow good corporate governance policies
  • more likely to have their leadership succession plans finalized.

According to the study, woman-owned family businesses have become substantial enterprises in the US, with average annual revenues of $26.9 million in 2002 and with some reporting annual sales as high as $1 billion. Most woman-owned family firms are in the second generation of operation.


Survey highlights about US woman-owned businesses include:

  • they have increased by 37% in the last five years to 15.6%
  • they place greater proportionate emphasis on social responsibility – directing their philanthropic focus toward educational and community organizations
  • While female-owned family businesses are smaller in size – over $26 million in annual revenues compared to approximately   $30 million for male-owned counterparts – they generate sales with fewer employees: 26 workers compared to 50 at male-owned firms.   This means that female-owned family businesses are 1.7 times more productive than male-owned family firms.
  • are more than six times as likely to have a woman chief executive officer (roughly half are led by females).   Woman-owned family businesses are typically 10 years younger than those owned by men and female owners assumed leadership at an age five years older than their male counterparts.
  • they focus more carefully on CEO succession planning and are more likely to have chosen a follow-on chief executive.
  • they experience greater family loyalty, agreement with goals, and pride in the business.   They have a 40% lower rate of family member attrition.
  • the are twice as likely to employ women family members full time and are three times as likely to employ more than one female family member full time.
  • tend to be more fiscally conservative.    More female-owned family businesses carry less or no debt – other than trade payables – than male-owned firms.  

The survey covered family businesses at least 10 years old with sales volume in excess of $1 million who have at least two officers or directors with the same last name. The latest study is available at .