Recently in a LinkedIN group for Eagle Scouts someone asked if it was appropriate to list the fact that he made Eagle and if so should he list the year. His concern was that it reveals your gender and a general idea of your age. Where I believe that discrimination is a horrible thing, generally speaking I can determine someone's age looking at their education and work history (If you have 20 years of work experience you at least in your late 30's but probably in your early 40's). Now the group is a prime example of a social networking echo chamber. So there were, over 80 men saying "yes, you should" or "it hasn't hurt me". As I had a recent negative experience I shared it there. It occurred to me that the post would make a good blog post, so I wanted to share it here.
Please forgive what's going to be a long post on this subject, but I have a story to tell that I think lands in the category of "full disclosure". We all have a pro-Eagle bias, since we all earned the award and it helped shape the men we are, I want to tell an experience i had from the "other side of the fence".
It's funny up until a month ago, I would've said, "It has gotten me an interview or 2 and has done me no harm. You never know if the person on the other side of the desk also earned Eagle, or at least knows what it means and how it defines you." I did have an experience that made me evaluate my stance on that.
So, a month ago, I had an interview with someone at a rather large firm for a potential contracting assignment. I had a number of phone screens, interviews and meetings before this last one with a senior C level executive. After the exchange of pleasantries the first thing he tells me is that based on my Resume there is no way I'm going to work with his organization. Of course this put me off a bit, like I said above I was through a number of meetings for this position. No less then 8 people had seen my Resume and I would've assumed that if if I wasn't qualified it wouldn't have gotten this far.
Knowing that some executives like to see how you handle pressure I calmly ask him what the issue was. His answer is "you discriminate against atheists". Now, in addition to having Eagle Scout on my Resume, I also list a number of charitable institutions I work with which are associated with my Church (I do some IT work from them so it is related to my career). I assumed that was his issue and reply, "just because I have a religious background doesn't mean that I'm biased against any group. I generally don't discuss politics on an interview but at my core I'm libertarian, as long as you don't stop me from worshiping as I see fit, I don't care how anyone else worships". He looks me straight in the eye, "you don't get it. You're an Eagle Scout. You must be anti-atheist, anti-gay and anti-woman".
I sit, letting his words sink in. He was clearly angry, I now know this is not about seeing how I think, this is about a man who has serious issues with the BSA. Probably either himself or his son is an atheist or gay, and he is using me and my resume as a way to retaliate. Since I know I'm not getting this assignment I have a couple of choices. I can thank him for his time, I can get upset and argue or I can engage a discussion on this issues. I won't detail that here, but I choose the third (having more guts then sense) and I listened to his complaints and discussed where I agreed and where I disagreed with BSA's policies, why I list that I earned Eagle on my Resume.
Of course I did not get the assignment, there was nothing that was going to fix that. I'd like to think that perhaps we both came out more enlightened.
I have not removed it from my resume and I stand by my achievement. But I want folks to be aware that by putting it on there, you're endorsing the BSA's socially conservative stance in some people's minds.