The Rise of the Female Sultan

Last week, Disney launched a new live-action remake of its animated ‘Aladin’ movie that was first released in 1992. While the storyline is almost the same as the original, there was one small but significant update. In the original, Jasmine’s primary goal was to marry a prince who could take over the reins from her father and become a Sultan. But the new updated Jasmine from Aladin 2019 has a mind of her own. She had no interest in marrying a prince who could be the future Sultan. Instead, she wants to become the Sultan herself! And that’s exactly what she does in the end.

Over the years, Disney heroines have certainly kept up with the times, from Snow White and Cinderella who had to essentially wait for their prince charming to rescue them, all the way to Moana who takes the lead and goes about saving her kingdom on her own.

There are several interesting parallels that one can draw with modern-day empires, whether in business or politics with regard to female successors. As per an EY report titled ‘Women in leadership – The family business advantage,’ 70 percent of family businesses are considering a woman for their next CEO, and 30% are strongly considering a woman for the top spot. It shows a huge shift in mindset with respect to family-run businesses over the years, where only male children were traditionally considered the true heirs for running a family business.

In India too, there has been a perceptible shift in mindset with respect to daughters being groomed to take over businesses rather than being married off into another business family. There are several glowing examples, from Sulajja Firodia Motwani, Managing Director of Kinetic Motor Company Limited to Vinita Gupta is the CEO of Lupin Pharma, to Roshni Nadar Malhotra, the CEO and Executive Director of a $7.5 billion corporation, HCL, and many more.

Overall, the number of women leaders in the industry is still quite dismal. The day we can truly rejoice will be when can create a conducive environment across all industries; such that women can flourish and aspire to reach leadership positions, irrespective of whether they are a part of the family that runs/owns the business.

But this is still a good start.