Family Business

Women in india integrating the family business


4 min




Listen to young successors share their thoughts on the evolving role of women in Indian family businesses. Traditionally, Indian women were expected to choose between a career and a domestic life, however, these attitudes are changing and women who are seeking to achieve a balance are accepted. As more affluent family business encourage and support this trend, the more widely accepted it will be.





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Lavanya Nalli Ramanathan
In India there was the need to choose between career and a very happy domestic life, and I think that those attitudes are changing. And it is changing in society, it is changing in a lot of ways, and people are finding that it is possible now to straddle both, and that work life balance really is balance. It is not about the trade-offs. Previously, the idea was so alien, but now it is definitely more accepted. It is more prevalent in societies, and the more that you see the media talking about these success stories, the more it shifts attitudes in a positive way.

Pankaj Dinodia
There are very strong women in my family who have run independent businesses and who have run, you know, have run a family business, like my sister is going to someday. With education and with ... View More some sort of financial independence that sort of equilibrium has been established, and you know, how do you tell somebody who has been in the same classes as you, has gotten the same grades, done the same kind of jobs, that, “Listen, once get married, you should now just sit, take a back seat, and you know focus on the family”? It is a rising trend. A lot of big business families in India have also started doing that, which sort of sets the stage and that encourages everybody else to, you know, they are like, “Oh well if she can do it, you know, we should encourage our daughters to do it.”

Lavanya Nalli Ramanathan
We are a retail establishment, and because we sell to women and it is very customer facing, I think there was a lot of areas of the business that I could be involved in, but there were aspects of it which my father and my grandfather had alerted me to and said, “Look, there are certain areas of India where you just cannot go in for merchandising, because it is not safe.” My father has always been very encouraging, but I think he had a valid concern with aspects of the business where he thought that women would just have a tougher time, and I think that was just a very instinctive protective reaction. My mom, I think she herself has undergone a transformation in her attitudes at least in the last five to ten years. When I first started seriously considered joining the business, I think her instinctive reaction was it is, “Do not get into this. It is, you are going to rock the boat. There is a lot of politics. Would it not be nicer if you just did something on your own, and you were more independent?” I think her more immediate concern was, “You are getting old, and why do you not get married?” My father would view it through a lens of, “This is great. I am happy for you, and, you know, I am glad that you are forging your own path,” and my mother would always look at it in terms of, “I see what you are doing, but you are going to turn around when you are thirty five, and you are going to ask me to find a suitable boy and we are going to struggle.” So she had her reservations, and I said, “Look what is the worst that could happen? I would maybe spend a year or so working with the business, and then we would come to a realization that this is not what I want, and then both senior management and my father, and everybody involved, would realize that it is the organization as it is right now, it is not set up to have a woman running it,” but luckily I think it went in my favor.