world thinking day patchIn today's post, Workforce Institute board member Ruth Bramson discusses World Thinking Day, a Girl Scouts of America program.  Ruth is the former CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, so this cause is near and dear to her heart.  Each year on February 22, World Thinking Day, girls participate in activities and projects with global themes to honor their sister Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in other countries. World Thinking Day is part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts Global Action Theme (GAT) based on the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aim to improve the lives of the world's poorest people. The underlying theme for this year's World Thinking Day is that “girls worldwide say _we can create peace through partnerships.'"

The Girl Scouts based the 2015 theme on the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal to develop a global partnership for development across all countries, rich and poor, working with one another to provide more effective aid, sustainable communities, and an even playing field.

To put it another way: It's about collaboration.

Having spent six years as CEO of the Girl Scouts in Massachusetts, I learned many lessons from cookie sales to leadership.  This is the organization's main cause: giving girls the skills and confidence to become leaders.

Yet right now we are wasting so much of the talent out there that this country needs. We must remake leadership prospects for girls within this generation. We must work together to fight the stereotype that it's okay for women to do “Office Housework,” a disappointing trend described in this recent New York Times article. We must enlist a broad range of companies and individuals to partner up, collaborate, and do this.

It's about collaboration. It's about building a welcoming culture.

Every organization owes it to its stakeholders to create partnerships across boundaries.  Whether it's within our own organization or our industry or our community, it starts with attitudes about gender equity, compensation policies, and work/family attitudes. We must encourage everyone to contribute.

When everyone contributes to the concept of collaboration and an open culture, it sets the stage for a healthy work environment and creates the climate in which businesses are profitable.  It is a powerful force that, when harnessed, tends to feed off itself.  Each of us has a stake in the outcomes.

When companies are welcoming to all employees, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or disabilities, people take great pride in being part of that organization. The net result is escalating levels of employee engagement, productivity, and profitability.  Ultimately, what is good for one is good to all.

Take a hard look at your work environment…is it collaborative and welcoming?  Perhaps now's a good time to make that (y)our goal.

Relevant Links:

Forbes column: The Secret of Top Performing Companies: More Women On The Board

Fortune article: Study finds a diverse corporate boards rein in risk, good for shareholders

Board members Ruth Bramson, David Creelman and I recently met to talk about the opportunities and challenges presented by the increasingly multi-generational workforce.  The picture here makes fun of one particular cliche about Millennials, but there are differences between the generations in terms of their assumptions, preferences and beliefs about how work gets done.

When I talked to co-authors Meagan and Larry Johnson a couple of years ago, they reflected on the significance of the cultural events that shaped the beliefs of workers from different generations.  Increasingly, attitudes toward technology have become another aspect of difference.  The newest generation, still doesn't have an agreed upon moniker or birthdate for that matter. Re-Gen,Gen Z,Pluralist & or Homelander are all in play.  But they'll start to enter the workplace soon and what we do know about them is that they've never known a world without smartphones and social media.  Email?  That's what their parents use to communicate.

Tammy Erickson posits that there are four main dimensions on which the generations differ in the workplace:

You can listen to our discussion about these differences by listening to this podcast:  Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce - Ruth Bramson and David Creelman

We'd also love to hear what you think?  How important are generational differences in your workplace?


I will do my best to be:
honest and fair, friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring, courageous and strong,
and responsible for what I say and do,
and to respect myself and others, respect authority,
use resources wisely, make the world a better place,
and be a sister to every Girl Scout.

This is a big month for our board member, Ruth Bramson.   Ruth is CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, and March 2012 is the centennial of the Girl Scouts of America.  Ruth heads an organization that touches the lives of 45,000 girls in 178 cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts, supported by the efforts of over 17,000 volunteers.  Ruth's had a lot of significant leadership positions in her career, but this is clearly the one about which she's most passionate.  Ruth shared some of her advice to young women who wish to become leaders in this recent article on and to the organizations who need to cultivate women leaders in our recent book, The Elements of Successful Organizations.

The mission of Girl Scouting is to build girls of "courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place".  Ruth and I recently spoke about the lessons she's learned as a female executive in the retail, services, public sector and non-profit worlds as well as the areas she and the Girl Scouts are focused on to develop the next generation of women leaders.  These efforts include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives intended to engage girls' interest in these subjects that not only can lead to rewarding careers, but also fill much needed gaps in the talent pool required to keep Massachusetts (and the rest of the nation) competitive as a high tech hub.  The recent  "Generation STEM" research published by the Girl Scouts indicates that stereotypical attitudes about girls in STEM fields continues to inhibit young women's pursuit of careers in these disciplines.

I asked Ruth, given all the advances women have made in the past 30 years, why we still need organizations to pay attention to the development of girls and women.  You can listen in and hear her answers here:  Ruth Bramson on developing female leaders.

In her Wall Street Journal blog (The Juggle) yesterday, Sue Shellenbarger questioned whether fundraisers like Girl Scout cookie sales are helpful developmental experiences for kids or just one more responsibility for working parents to shoulder.  The comments following this blog are running about 50/50 pro and con regarding fundraisers and whether they teach kids responsibility and job skills.  I blogged on a similar topic last summer when my son was selling Cutco knives, but have had the cookie experience as well.  I come down on the side that these experiences do teach kids valuable lessons about planning, teamwork, and having the courage to ask for the order.

I asked our board member, Ruth Bramson, to weigh in on this topic as well.  Ruth is CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, and contributed the following guest blog in response to the WSJ post:

We are in the business of preparing girls to set out on their pathways to success in life and careers. Selling Girl Scout cookies is absolutely an important part of that preparation. By selling Girl Scout cookies, girls have chances to succeed and are challenged to stretch themselves to new heights. They develop the self-confidence, vision, wisdom, motivational impact and implementation skills that effective leaders use every day.

There's no question that the Girl Scout cookie selling program can be a very effective life and career skill-building opportunity! These skills include:

Participating in the sale helps girls develop good communication skills to deliver a clear message while interacting with the consumer.

Goal setting helps girls decide what is important for them to achieve in their life. They learn to avoid distractions, stay motivated, and build self-confidence to improve their opportunities for success.

Managing their cookie sale offers excellent project management skills.  They tackle the challenges of coordinating people, schedules, and resources to complete multiple tasks in limited time.

Financial know-how is at the heart of true independence and self-reliance. The basic skills that girls gain through this experience stay with them for a lifetime. Learning to manage money wisely is one of the most important life skills girls can master. We help girls learn how to budget, manage cash flow and even pay bills on time!

Teamwork is the best way to get things done is often to work together to achieve more. Girls gain lots of practice working together toward their goals. All the while, they are improving problem solving abilities, communication and conflict resolution skills.

Networking is one of the most successful methods for gaining a desired position, whether it's a slot on student government today, or a job later in life. Girls learn to develop contacts with people who might be able to help them with their future roles in life.

What's your take on the life skills development value of fundraisers?

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram