Cookies Mean Business

Skill 5: Business Ethics

The topic of business ethics is very broad and in most cases left for semester long university courses – which is why Girl Scouts using the Girl Scout Cookie Program to help girls begin to understand the complexities of the topic is brilliant. Like I said before, the topic is broad but according to the Institute of Business Ethics – business ethics “is the application of ethical values to business behavior. Business ethics is relevant both to the conduct of individuals and to the conduct of the organization as a whole. It applies to any and all aspects of business conduct.”

Truly this was a little hard for me to write about because applying business ethics to 7-year-olds isn’t something that I do everyday! I found this article and I think it’s the best way to describe this in terms of selling cookies.

You can read the full article here, “Samoas, Thin Mints and Business Ethics”, but I have pulled an excerpt that I found relevant. This is a former Girl Scout reliving a memory she had of selling cookies:

As a 10-year-old Scout, I remember [having a] moment when I asked my mother one day if I could “borrow” from my cookie-sale stash when I needed lunch money — as long as I put it back in time to turn the money in to our Scout leader. My mother looked at me sternly and explained that the money did not belong to me — taking it wouldn’t be right. Our neighbors trusted me because I was a Girl Scout, she said, and it would be unethical to borrow the money, even if I intended to pay it back.

Twenty-five years later, I’m interviewing business professionals who rationalized their behavior as “borrowing” money from their companies and planning to return it at some later date…

Selling cookies, I learned more than how to resist the temptation to embezzle. Since my parents were not involved in the process, other than walking me around the neighborhood, the buck stopped with me. I was in charge of all orders and counted my money every night. I learned never to set unrealistic sales goals; to always take responsibility for my work; and that if someone says “no,” have confidence, because another will say “yes.”

It’s these opportunities that help girls begin to understand the complexities of business ethics at an early age. It’s so important to have these values instilled in them so they grow up to be the ethical leaders of our future!

Anyone have any ethics stories they want to share from this year? I would love to hear from you! Email me today!


Yours in Girl Scouting,


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