It can be hard to stand up for your convictions, particularly when those convictions meet with resistance. As women in business, we might find this when encountering different personalities, different mindsets, or different expectations in the workplace that don’t align with our own. This week, we’re talking about Standing Up, here on Sister Leadership in our Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) series. And who better to feature in this vein than Donalda Charron?
From a SQ perspective, Standing Up means taking charge of your own life, being your own person, and seeking your own direction. It might not always be popular, and a person’s ability to withstand that difference can often be impacted by self-confidence and courage.
So let’s share about women who have inspired us with their convictions.
As I mentioned last week when writing about the WBN event on courageous women, Donalda Charron created waves about her company’s approach to unions and women in the workplace. As a young women, Donalda found herself a position with the E. B. Eddy Match Company. Here, she became an allumettière, a match girl. The work was hard, long and alongside dangerous chemicals. There were around 400 young women in the factory making matches. Donalda worked hard, shone, and eventually became forewoman. “She was responsible for supervising work and the hiring and dismissal of the girls. She was a confidant for the girls and protected them from abuse at the hands of the men who worked at the plant.” (1)
“Along with the other women at the factory, the allumettières, Donalda joined the Catholic Women Trade Union Association, the first female union, in 1918.” (2) And in 1919 they signed a contract that fixed their salaries. However, it wasn’t long after that matches began to fall out of favour as electricity became more popular. As E. B. Eddy began to feel the decline in sales, they decided to break the contract and slash the girl’s salaries.
This is when it becomes particularly interesting. Suffice to say that when Donalda led her girls out of the factory in protest of the cuts, it did not go over well with the E. B. Eddy Match Company. What followed was the closing of the factory—locking out the girls. What also followed was some impressive use of the media by Donalda to win over first neighbours, then neighbourhoods, then cities, then provinces. But amazingly, as a women, Donalda wasn’t allowed to speak as a union representative despite leading the strike. “Although she was kept out of the negotiations, the role Donalda played was crucial throughout the conflict. She supported the troops on the picket line , attended strategic meetings with the negotiating team and participated in public meetings and fundraisers.” (3)
Time passed, the allumettières stood strong, and then people, cities, and businesses
, began to boycott E. B. Eddy. The pressure mounted. Eventually a contract was renegotiated, and the women returned to work. That is, they all returned except for one: Donalda Charron was out of a job.
Despite that loss, her leadership shifted the power of the union in the workplace. Furthermore, even though she lost that job, she went on to help other organizations with their unions and workplace rights. (And back then there weren’t many workplace rights. Conditions were horrible.)
It must have been so hard to say “no” to the people who fed their families, and the jobs they dependent upon to survive. And yet the allumettières did just that. They stood up against the wave, and it was because of Donalda that they were able to stand strong, win sympathy, and get the advantage.
Whether you are battling in business, or fighting personal battles, there will be times when not everyone likes your decision. Sometimes in fulfilling our purpose, we need to become free of the emotional dependency—of being told we are good. We need to, instead, become self-directed in our thinking and actions and not look to others. I’m not saying this is always the case, but you’ll feel it deep inside when something isn’t right. Taking action on that feeling is an act of courage and confidence.
This week we have three questions for you:
1. How do you check to know if your intuition is working and know that your decision is the best option for you?
2. Who is your role model that exemplifies Standing Up for what you think is right What three qualities does your role model possess?
3. Can you give an example of when you stood up for what you believed was right and how did you engage with your spiritual side?
Please, let us know your thoughts. We want to hear YOUR stories of Standing UP. Leave your thoughts in the comments, or on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/SisterLeadership
Until next week!