On a car ride home one day, a mother overheard her daughter talking about a class election where a girl and a boy were both running for president. The boy won, and the daughter and her friend commented on how some of the girls in the class didn’t vote for the girl simply because they didn’t want her to be president and not them.
Thus began a larger conversation between the mother and her daughter where she recounted numerous times in her life, both personal and professional, where she had seen the same situation where women did not support other women, seeing them instead as competition. How many missed opportunities, ideas squashed, futures deterred have there been due to a lack of encouragement and support from a fellow female?
The daughter decided she wanted to do something about it, and thus the Stand Beside Her Movement was formed. An avid Girl Scout interested in making her world a better place, she brought her idea to the staff at Girl Scouts Heart of the South. She asked, “What if instead of competition and comparison, we collaborate and support one another? Isn’t that what Girl Scouts is all about?”
Girl Scouts Heart of the South recognized the unhealthy comparison and competition amongst girls at a very young age-- and not the healthy - “I am going to try my best and you try your best!’ – kind but the kind that tears down our self-esteem, that makes us question if we are good enough or if we are lacking the right skills, looks or abilities to be our best. This competition and comparison starts as early as kindergarten when girls notice certain attributes that other girls have who are getting the teacher’s attention, the one who gets to say the pledge or is called on. Girls start developing social circles and having a need to belong around that same time, that is why organizations like Girl Scouts is so important for a girl’s development and sense of I can do anything.
The competition and comparison doesn't end in middle school but continues into adulthood. In the media, television shows and advertisements display women in conflict and turn it into entertainment. In the workplace, women find themselves being pit against each other instead of opening the door for more women at the table. Moms shame other moms. Daughters hear and bear witness to the competition—and the cycle of negativity continues.
Only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and the year it is estimated that women will reach parity with men in leadership roles in our country is 2085. We will never reach gender parity if we don’t support each other. Closing the gender, leadership, and pay gaps will only happen when we Stand Beside Her!
“Our Girl Scout council knew we were onto something – an idea that could change the way women interact with each other from now into the future,” said Melanie Schild, CEO Girl Scouts Heart of the South. “That idea was the Stand Beside Her Movement.”
So in 2014, GSHS rallied Girl Scout councils from across the country to encourage women and girls to band together and support one another, and in the ensuing years, corporate partners including FedEx, AutoZone and ServiceMaster have taken up this call to action to mentor, support and develop women and girls to end comparison and competition and create more collaboration and support for one another.
This grass-roots initiative born out of a conversation on a simple ride home from school is now a nationwide phenomenon inspiring women of all ages all over the country to reach out to one another in friendship and solidarity; to stand up for one another and lend a helping hand, and to find ways to recognize the women in their lives who have stood beside them in ways large and small. From the kitchen table to the conference table, we are surrounded by women who spur us on to become the best versions of ourselves.
The Stand Beside Her Movement encourages women of all ages to be that champion for others.
The Stand Beside Her Movement is inspiring women of all ages all over the country to reach out to one another in friendship and solidarity, encourage women to stand up for one another, lend a helping hand, and to find ways to recognize the women in their lives who have stood beside them in ways large and small.
Stand Beside Her is a call to action to propel women and girls forward by ending comparison and competition and creating more collaboration and support. Join the movement and pledge to #standbesideher today!