Diversity - Equity - Inclusion
There is an ancient Chinese curse that holds: May you live in interesting times. And these are certainly interesting times.
We Rotarians are leaders in our communities. That is why we are in Rotary. We are people of action. In many ways we are out front in bringing about lasting change in our communities. This begs the question: shouldn’t we in Rotary have something to say about where we are in our society and community? And, this is not meant to be a political statement or position. 
Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, wrote about tolerance and respect for one another as early as 1911. In an essay in 1935, Paul Harris wrote the following: “Rotary holds that the interests of society demand that there be a place where people of diverse races, faith and political parties can meet in happy fellowship and the Rotary provide that place.”
Rotary International does have a policy regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This policy is something we should be mindful of as we go forward in our clubs and in our lives. This is Rotary’s statement about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:  “As a global network that strives to build a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change, Rotary values diversity and celebrates the contributions of people of all backgrounds, regardless of their age, ethnicity, race, color, abilities, religion, socioeconomic status, culture, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.
A top priority for Rotary is growing and diversifying our membership to make sure we reflect the communities we serve.
Rotary is creating an organization that is more open and inclusive, fair to all, builds goodwill, and benefits our communities. We want people with differing perspectives and ideas who will help Rotary take action to create lasting change in communities around the world.
Through Rotary, you'll find unique opportunities to get involved. Everyone is welcome in Rotary.”
Here are some questions we can ask of our clubs:
  • Does our club membership reflect your community? Does our club culture reflect your community? Do the “others” feel uncomfortable to be in our club?
  • If our club is not diverse, do the “others” feel safe to join us?
These are difficult questions to deal with. I understand. We have to ask the tough questions to get to where we want to be in our clubs and in our communities. 
Perhaps, our club can have a club assembly to have a conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable discussing these matters. It’s this discomfort that allows us to grow and get better. A moderator can help keep the discussion on track. 
Here are a few suggestions to get us in the right frame of mind as we embark on this journey.
  • Listen to understand and empathize. We can’t compare our experience to others. We can choose to empathize with others in order to connect.
  • Self and group education. We need to educate ourselves first and then our clubs.
  • Befriend other communities. After educating ourselves, we can form real and meaningful friendships with people and the inequity they face. By reaching out to others in our community, we can continue to grow our clubs and Rotary to do more good in the world.
Rotary’s north star is the 4-Way test. As we work our way through Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, it is the 4-Way test that will guide us.
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build good will and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
The world needs Rotary now more than ever. Thank you for being an important part of Rotary.