Our research found that one of the best ways that elder family members, both employees and nonemployees, raised awareness about potential leadership opportunities among all members of the next generation was through the practice of, and communication about, inclusive values and behaviors.
|“I spent some time at reception. But I also painted the floors and rode pallet jacks – no different than my siblings. When we were young, my dad treated us all the same,” said a former executive chairman of a family business. Michelle Kassner, former CEO of Liberty Travel, also had memorable childhood experiences. “When I was a young child, I remember my dad taking us all to the office. We would get dressed up and talk to the executives.”
The women we interviewed described messages and behaviors – exhibited by both parents – that influenced their paths from their early years through young adulthood. In fact, 78% of leaders we interviewed described their families as valuing inclusion, whereas only 22% of our non-leader group said the same. In families where boys and girls (and young men and women) heard the message “there is opportunity for you in this business,” women were more likely to engage. Attitudes and approaches like these by parents often shaped children’s interests, sources of inspiration and views of what roles were possible. These formative experiences had a building and cumulative effect on the next generation’s outcomes.