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Boss LadyHow Three Women Entrepreneurs Built Successful Big Businesses in the Mid-Twentieth Century$
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Edith Sparks

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469633022

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469633022.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

Labor-Management Relations

Labor-Management Relations

(p.92) 3 Labor-Management Relations
Boss Lady

Edith Sparks

University of North Carolina Press

The experiences of Lewis, Beech and Rudkin reveal that these female business leaders did not behave as champions of employees or women as feminists then and now might have hoped. Instead, they acted in commonplace ways as architects of a “new welfare capitalism” characteristic of American companies starting in the 1930s and made labor-management decisions designed to blunt the impact of unions within their companies like so many business leaders in the middle of the twentieth century. Leveraging the language of family, they built companies that asserted overtly employee-oriented policies that rewarded loyalty and efficiency with strong wages, benefits and noblesse oblige for the workers they wished to retain long term. All of them relied on this approach as a way to maintain control of labor-management relations, as an expedient business strategy and as one ideologically resonant with their beliefs. Lewis, Beech and Rudkin were business leaders of their time, evangelists for the free enterprise system, in favour of less government regulation, and in support of company cultures that treated their employees as resources with a responsibility to increase the company’s profit margin.

Keywords:   Women managers, Welfare capitalism, Labor management, Company as family, Anti-union

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