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Ethics, the Heart of it.


Booths sales start this week and with it, we are at the apex, or the heart of cookie season.  Visit a Safeway or a Walmart and Girl Scouts will be out in force the next three weeks. I have previously blogged to the benefits for our Girl Scout entrepreneurs, including learning, goal-setting, and decision-making. With us reaching peak season, I would be remiss to not elaborate on ethics, the heart of the cookie sale.

To begin with, trust is the number one leadership principle, and trust comes from doing the right thing, from following the Girl Scout law, for being a good Girl Scout. As our world faces larger and larger ethical challenges, highlighted most recently by the college admissions cheating scandal, moral decay can only be reversed if good behavior is learned and followed. Our movement does just that. Truly, would not our world be a better place if we had more Girl Scouts?

Look at the ethical principles embraced each cookie sale:

  • Selling Girl Scout product at the price set.

  • Honoring commitments to actively participate in Product Sale Program events, including goal setting and parent meetings. ​

  • Arriving and departing at the appointed time for booths.

  • Ensuring that she counts back the correct change to customers. ​

  • Never using funds from Product Sale Program for personal use. ​

  • Honoring the girl approved uses of troop funds and credits. ​

Thus, $5 and a box of Trefoils start a long list of ethical moments and points of teaching...and when you magnify that by our Council's 297 boxes sold per Girl average, the learning opportunities are exponential. Ethics are taught and experience is the best teacher. Clearly, with the large volume of cookies sold, cash is prevalent. Nearly $1 billion in cookie sales happen every year. Is it ok to borrow some of that cash as long as you give it back?  Girl Scouts know the answer. Similarly, is it ok at your workplace to borrow company cash for personal use? Girl Scouts is as relevant today with ethical decisions as it was when cookies were first sold 100 years ago. Girl Scouts are taught not only the Girl Scout law, they live it, and cookie season is when the consequences are magnified. This is the #1 Girl-led business in the world and it will only succeed if the customer believes in the Girl Scout. When they purchase that box of Samoas, they are buying into the historical lore of the Girl Scout, the nostalgia, but they are also buying into a belief they are helping that Girl Scout in front of them. That trust is our sacred bond sealed by a Tagalong.

My life has been committed to the military, an organization with an oath. I am also committed deeply to Girl Scouts which also has a promise to do your best at all times. I have always followed a North Star; I am happy I follow the same one Juliette Gordon Low chose to follow. Today our North Star burns bright because our ethics of right and wrong are as strong as ever.  As our tagline pleads this time of year, "Eat up, America."  Yes, buying a box of Thin Mints buys you a promise, a contract fulfilled the $5 will be used for good. Ethics are the heart of cookie season and our heart beats strong! Juliette reminds us that no matter what, "Right is right, even if no one else does it." Our Girl Scouts do it right!

--Brian Newberry, CEO, GSEWNI