The data reveals that Irish family businesses lag their global counterparts in terms of climate action.

41% of respondents said they are ‘putting sustainability at the heart of everything they do’, compared to 49% of global family businesses.

According to the research, only 32% have a sustainability strategy in place, compared to 37% of global family firms.

John Dillon, Leader of PwC Ireland Entrepreneurial & Private Business Practice, said that Irish family businesses are realising that in order to remain attractive to customers, suppliers and employees – sustainability needs to be central to their business operations.

“For Irish family businesses this is not just about stating a commitment to doing good, but about setting meaningful targets, measuring and reporting them so as to demonstrate a clear sense of sustainable outcomes when it comes to helping economies and societies.

“Family business owners want, above all, to create an enduring legacy and asset for future generations,” he said.

Growth

The survey suggests that while Irish family businesses have suffered as a result of the disruption brought about by the pandemic, they remain resilient.

As a result of the pandemic, only 30% expect to see sales growth in the last financial year, with 48% expecting sales to shrink.

However, with the country beginning to reopen, they are optimistic about their future growth prospects.

58% of respondents are confident about growth ambitions for 2021, while 87% expect their businesses to grow next year.

To achieve this growth, the research suggests that Irish family businesses are taking a ‘people-first’ approach, prioritising the wellbeing of their employees, more so than their global counterparts.

The findings show that 81% retained as many staff as possible during the pandemic, compared to 71% globally.

While 49% of Irish family firms topped up the wages of staff on Government employment retention schemes, compared to just 21% of their global counterparts, and 59% provided emotional and mental health supports to staff, compared to 45% of global firms.

The data also shows that Irish family shareholders made sacrifices, with 42% taking a salary cut to support the business during the pandemic, compared to 31% globally.

Digital transformation

While 90% of Irish family businesses enabled home working for employees during the pandemic, the report states that there are still concerns when it comes to digital transformation.

Less than half of Irish respondents described their digital capabilities as ‘strong’.

While this compares favourably with global counterparts (38%), the report states that there is significant room for improvement.