Is Your Company Evolving?
So this happened. All across America, parents are getting back into their kids' school routines along with all of their various (and exhausting) extra curricular activities. That's nothing new and hardly worth writing about on LinkedIn. However, this time is a bit different. Last night, my nine year old daughter signed up for Cub Scouts! To me, this is an historic event, and one that I frankly had mixed feelings about.
When the organization first announced that they would be accepting girls, my initial reaction was surprise (and I also felt a little bit sad for the boys). I had a colleague mention that he was a long time financial supporter of theirs but that he would no longer be donating to the organization after they had given in to the political pressures of the day. I didn't think much more about it until my daughter came home saying that she wanted to join. I asked her why she wanted to be a Cub Scout when she had never had any interest in joining Girl Scouts. She replied that Girl Scouts made friendship bracelets and sold cookies, while Cub Scouts got to build rockets and go fishing. Hmmm. That's interesting. Not necessarily true, but interesting. (I find it fascinating that without ever having a single conversation about this at home, she believes that her ability to engage in "science" will increase by joining up with a group of boys. There are many articles about this cultural phenomenon so I won't diverge into that here).
What her simple reply indicated to me is that the Girl Scouts' hundred year old brand is so well established, that it could actually be a double edged sword. Clearly, my daughter, at the age of nine, has an opinion about what it means to be a Girl Scout, and it is not one that appeals to her. So what is the answer? The Cub Scouts, who have adapted to these changing times, risks alienating their long time base. However, they are also attracting a whole new demographic that had not previously existed for them, (or vice versa).
The bottom line in all of this are the kids. I wondered how the boys in her troop were going to feel about being invaded by female classmates. However, at the orientation, they all welcomed her with open arms. In fact, about a third of the packed auditorium were girls, and they were all chatting excitedly with their male classmates. I don't know why I was worried about exclusion. As an executive leader, I was often the only woman present at high level meetings over the course of my career. Rarely did I feel unwanted in those rooms full of men. (Of course it happened, but those instances were few and far between). For the most part, my male counterparts viewed me as a peer and we simply got to work. So why would it be any different for my daughter? It is really inspiring that she is being brought up confident that her abilities and opportunities are equal to anyone she may meet, and I applaud the Cub Scouts for embracing this exciting time.