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The first job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open, and often the collective mouth of the American public must roar in order to be heard – and make things right.
This is what happened after it was reported in October that the Girl Scouts of America had fallen off its ethical pony. The organization was seeking new bids for the manufacture of uniforms and sashes worn by the 2.4 million girls who’re members of GSA. For years, this work has been done by a small, family-owned business in Passaic, New Jersey, but scout leaders at headquarters decided to consider shifting the business to three other companies, two of which are overseas, including one in China.
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Say what? Girl Scouts of AMERICA would offshore 90 jobs of Passaic workers to China, where factories pay pathetically-cheap wages and might even use child labor? GSA executives tried at first to defend this, saying they were “engaging in good business practices” like corporations do. “We have an obligation to deliver the best value to our members,” an official declared.
Well, there’s “value,” but then there are values. Which was GSA choosing… and teaching its girls? ”
This question was at the heart of the public uproar that instantly erupted from the members, parents, and volunteers. If you want ethically-compromised value, they roared, go to Wal-mart, but we came to the Girl Scouts for values.
It took only two days for headquarters to get the message. The bid request was quickly modified to require a USA manufacturer and to set strict guidelines for worker ages and treatment. Indeed, officials turned their boo-boo into a positive lesson: “We thank the many Girl Scout [advocates] who stood up for their beliefs and showed… that every voice makes a difference.”
See, speaking out matters. So keep roaring.
“New Jersey company fears Girl Scouts will take business to China, Austin American Statesman,” October 30, 2010.
“Girl Scouts’ Uniforms To Be US-Made,” www.msnbc.com, November 1, 2010.