ROTARY’S FRAMEWORK FOR DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION

 

Rotary strives to create and maintain an experience for members and participants that reflects our fundamental values, empowers people to contribute at their fullest potential, and celebrates people as they are.

Our core values — service, fellowship, diversity, integrity, and leadership — align with our commitment to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for all. 

To assess the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Rotary, we worked with specialists at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a global network of professional services firms. As part of this, we:

  • Reviewed Rotary’s documented policies and procedures
  • Conducted focus groups and interviews with Rotary leaders and members
  • Analyzed 31,000 responses to a global survey to understand the sentiments and experiences of our members
  • Used DEI Task Force meetings to build support among Rotary leaders and develop a path forward

This assessment has become the basis of the framework that we’ll use to further integrate DEI into all aspects of our culture, including welcoming more diverse members, building a more inclusive culture, and providing more equitable opportunities. 

Eight key themes emerged from the assessment. We’ve already begun to address some of these and will use them all to guide our work to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in Rotary.

  1. Members are invested in making Rotary a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization in order to grow our membership and increase our impact.  Our members guide our actions. We’ll continue to respond to your interest and belief in DEI by making Rotary a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization for everyone.
  1. Rotary’s current DEI policies and procedures vary by region, leading to inconsistent and inequitable experiences. We’re now emphasizing inclusive leadership expectations, where our leaders think and act more inclusively — and creating DEI training for club, regional, district, and senior leaders to ensure more consistency in people’s experiences. This includes training our leaders about DEI, expecting them to model the behavior outlined in the DEI Code of Conduct, and asking them to apply the code so that all members recognize the effect their words and actions have on others.
  1. Members don’t have enough information or insight about our efforts to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. We discovered a lack of awareness about our DEI commitment statement, training courses, and webpage. We’ve created a hub on My Rotary where you can learn more about our action to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into all that we do. You can download and share resources such as the DEI Code of Conduct, terms and definitions, and Rotary’s commitment statement. You can also find links to Learning Center courses to expand your knowledge about DEI and find suggestions about how your club can support DEI locally. We’ll promote this page and other resources in all of our communication channels to bring you the most up-to-date information.
  1. More than 25% of the survey respondents said they don’t know how to report discrimination or harassment at Rotary. Some members also noted the lack of a central place to report, collect, or address instances of this behavior. Members said some incidents go unreported and some inappropriate behavior incurs no consequences. The goal of the DEI Code of Conduct is to be clear about how Rotary members are expected to conduct themselves in order to create and maintain collaborative, positive, and healthy environments. This means we expect all members to use respectful language, be supportive, foster a welcoming and inclusive environment, and celebrate diversity. In any instance when a member acts in an unsupported or unwelcoming manner, or anytime you experience or witness behavior that doesn’t align with the DEI Code of Conduct, you can contact cds@rotary.org. Rotary staff will review your report and follow up appropriately.
  1. More than 30% of the survey respondents said they don’t believe that Rotary leaders are actively promoting DEI. They said they don’t see Rotary leaders being held accountable, and they don’t believe those leaders uniformly apply or uphold Rotary’s DEI principles. All Rotary leaders are expected to uniformly apply and uphold the DEI Code of Conduct. If you experience or witness behavior from a Rotary leader that doesn’t align with the code, you can contact cds@rotary.org. Rotary staff will review your report and follow up appropriately.
  1. Members believe that leadership opportunities are limited for anyone who doesn’t fit the traditional profile of a Rotary leader. They said members who don’t look or behave in a certain way or have the “right” Rotary resume don’t have the same opportunities to advance. Rotary International’s Board of Directors has reviewed and updated the qualifications for some key leadership roles, including the International Assembly moderator and regional leaders, in order to welcome more diverse voices. For the first time, a Rotaractor has been appointed to serve as a Rotary public image coordinator in 2022-23. We’ll continue to seek opportunities to make leadership roles more accessible.
  1. The cost of joining Rotary remains an obstacle to retaining members, attracting new ones, and accurately representing our communities. When we welcome only those with the financial means, we exclude community members who want to make a difference but can’t afford to join.We want to ensure that the cost of Rotary is commensurate with the value of being a member. But we don’t want cost to keep potential people of action from connecting and making a difference through Rotary. We’ll explore more ways to make Rotary accessible to more people who want to create change in their communities.
  1. Younger members, particularly Rotaractors, said they don’t have a pathway to leadership and aren’t offered meaningful opportunities to get involved, showcase their ideas, or take part in making decisions because of their age or perceived lack of experience. Since the 2019 Council on Legislation voted to include Rotaract clubs as a distinct membership type in Rotary International, we’ve incorporated Rotaract into our operational processes and strategic initiatives. We’re in the process of ensuring that Rotaractors participate in leadership development efforts and have access to other products and services for members, as well as to our grants, giving, and fundraising efforts.

 

In addition to these themes, we’ll center our efforts on managing change, strengthening governance and accountability, training and educating leaders, reporting and escalating issues, and engaging marginalized groups.

The DEI Task Force will keep using the feedback from the member survey to create meaningful change throughout our organization that enhances the Rotary experience for all members and participants. We’ll update you about our progress periodically.

Cultivating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture is essential to realizing our vision of a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change. We are committed to this path, and with your support, we can grow and strengthen Rotary for the next generation of people of action.

Write to dei.inquiries@rotary.org with questions.

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