International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and a call to action for gender parity. This year, we want to bring it close to home and celebrate Muriel Richardson and her invaluable contribution to the family-owned Canadian business that bears the name of our firm. It’s a fascinating story and we were lucky to hear from Hartley Richardson in person, Muriel’s grandson, at a recent luncheon about family wealth.
Hartley told us the story of the day Muriel took over. It was a key inflection point in the company’s history:
After James Richardson passed away in 1939, his wife Muriel was on her way to a meeting with the company’s decision makers. Before entering the room, she stopped outside the door to glance in the mirror. As she paused, she overheard the group of men discussing how this was the end of James Richardson & Sons. Without their leader, how could they go on? In an instant, Muriel made her decision. She walked into the boardroom and declared she would be the new president. As James’ closest confidant, she knew every aspect of the business from logistics to personal politics and this deep understanding of the organization allowed her to successfully lead the company for the next 27 years.
During her leadership, numerous enterprises were added to the business and she oversaw the expansion with principles and high values. She lived by the words, “To whom much is given, much is required”. She had a great concern for her employees and was one of the first to implement pension plans, group life insurance and benefits. An exceptional steward of wealth, she supported the arts, education and public services. Muriel was the first woman to be inducted to Canada’s Business Hall of Fame.
Muriel’s values are woven into the foundation of Richardson GMP and we are proud to celebrate her as a great leader on this International Women’s Day!