Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 32,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.
Rotary International Mission Statement
The mission of Rotary International, a worldwide association of Rotary clubs, is to provide service to others, to promote high ethical standards, and to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.
Object of Rotary
The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
- The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
- High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
- The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
- The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
The Four-Way Test
From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served as RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.
This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:
“Of the things we think, say or do:
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”
Four Avenues of Service
Based on the Object of Rotary, the Four Avenues of Service are Rotary’s philosophical cornerstone and the foundation on which club activity is based:
- Club Service focuses on strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective functioning of the club.
- Vocational Service encourages Rotarians to serve others through their vocations and to practice high ethical standards.
- Community Service covers the projects and activities the club undertakes to improve life in its community.
- International Service encompasses actions taken to expand Rotary’s humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and peace.
Declaration of Rotarians in Businesses and Professions
The Declaration of Rotarians in Businesses and Professions was adopted by the Rotary International Council on Legislation in 1989 to provide more specific guidelines for the high ethical standards called for in the Object of Rotary:
As a Rotarian engaged in a business or profession, I am expected to:
- Consider my vocation to be another opportunity to serve;
- Be faithful to the letter and to the spirit of the ethical codes of my vocation, to the laws of my country, and to the moral standards of my community;
- Do all in my power to dignify my vocation and to promote the highest ethical standards in my chosen vocation;
- Be fair to my employer, employees, associates, competitors, customers, the public, and all those with whom I have a business or professional relationship;
- Recognize the honor and respect due to all occupations which are useful to society;
- Offer my vocational talents: to provide opportunities for young people, to work for the relief of the special needs of others, and to improve the quality of life in my community;
- Adhere to honesty in my advertising and in all representations to the public concerning my business or profession;
- Neither seek from nor grant to a fellow Rotarian a privilege or advantage not normally accorded others in a business or professional relationship.