United Way and the Boy Scouts of America - a Case Study

Topics: Discrimination, Zero tolerance, United Way of America Pages: 5 (1729 words) Published: December 11, 2011
United Way and the Boy Scouts of America
The United Way of America is an organization which takes in donations from people and businesses and distributes the funds to programs across the nation to help serve the community. One of the organizations which receive funds from the United Way, is the Boy Scouts of America.

In 1990, an assistant scoutmaster was found out to be gay and was expelled from the Scouts as consequence. This went to the courts with the final verdict being that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) had the right to expel James Dale, the scoutmaster in question. This has been seen as the BSA having a discriminatory policy of admittance into the Scouts.

The United Way has an anti-discrimination policy however they do not impose this on the organizations which receive funds (Jackson, 2009). Central Dilemma
After the Dale story broke in the papers in 2000, the United Way of Columbia-Willamette’s (UWCW) head Larry Norvell knew that it was time for the UWCW to address allocation of funds to the local BSA organization, the Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America (CPCBSA). The big dilemma for Norvell is whether or not to address the discriminatory actions of the BSA and CPCBSA organizations and what the impact of this decision will mean to all stakeholders, the contributors, the organization members, the agencies, and the community. As one advisor to Norvell posed, what will happen to the people who need assistance from the UWCW if contributions fall (Jackson, et. All 2009)? Answers to Case Study Questions

Larry Norvell faces an ethical issue, however one that I feel he can handle as a business decision. The concern for stakeholders here is that ultimately the UWCW is around to assist organizations by providing funding to better the community as a whole. 100% of contributions go to agencies, as such the only people who will directly be impacted by a drop in contributions would be the people who need those distributions the most (United Way, 2010). I feel that Norvell can handle this in an appropriate manner without singling out the CPCBSA directly. If the United Way comes across as singling out the CPCBSA for their anti-gay actions, then they will be perceived as weighing in on a specific social topic. However, Larry can change the UWCW strategy of how to handle the discrimination policies of the agencies which receive funding. If the policy gets switched from the current policy that the agencies which receive funding are allowed to have discriminatory practices to one which is zero tolerance for discrimination, this will be viewed upon as a broad policy with no exceptions. If the agencies that would be impacted by want to keep the support of the UWCW, then they will have to change their policies in order to comply. Given that the UWCW already has a non-discriminatory policy, this extension of it should not impact the contributions in such a large manner. Alternately, Norvell can chose to specifically defund the CPCBSA directly and exclusively, but the opportunity for public backlash (and backlash from the stakeholders) can be larger as it will be seen as a direct response to one organization’s beliefs. The CPCBSA has come out and stated that these are the BSA core beliefs, that they do not agree to the gay lifestyle and as such they will not change their values for any organization as they feel that this would undermine the BSA basic principles (Tim Gorman Letter to Boy Scouts of San Mateo Neighbors, 1992). The last alternative is that Norvell can do nothing and deal with the backlash internally and with community stakeholders. This can only be viable due to the fact that contributors may tell the UWCW where to or where not to direct their contributions. Effectively, this means that a contributor may say that they do not wish that their funds be allocated to the BSA. This would only be a short-term resolution. Long term the stakeholders may feel that...
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