Dear Rotary member,

Last year, we invited you to participate in a survey to help us learn how diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is perceived and experienced by Rotary members around the globe. Thank you for helping Rotary take an important step toward becoming an organization that better embraces the needs and experiences of — and that better offers opportunity to — all of our members and participants.

We were thrilled that so many of you — more than 31,000 members representing clubs all over the world — shared your thoughts and experiences by participating in the survey. Overwhelmingly, you told us that DEI is important to you and that you have a strong desire to make Rotary’s culture more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

You also told us that:
  • Members are invested in making Rotary a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization in order to grow our membership and increase our impact.
  • Rotary’s current DEI policies and procedures vary by region, leading to inconsistent and inequitable experiences.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • More than 30% of the survey respondents said they don’t believe that Rotary leaders are actively promoting DEI. Members 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.
  • 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 résumé don’t have the same opportunities to advance.
  • 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 financial means, we exclude community members who want to make a difference but can’t afford to join.
  • 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.
What’s next?
 
The survey findings were very insightful and were used to create a plan that ensures that our commitment to DEI is reflected throughout the organization, in everything we do. You can read more about this plan at rotary.org/dei.

What we say and how we behave matter. While we know that free expression is important, we must take responsibility for how our words and actions may affect others. This is why the Board approved a new DEI Code of Conduct that outlines how Rotary members can contribute to creating and maintaining an environment that is collaborative, positive, and healthy for everyone.

We have also introduced a process for members to address issues related to DEI. In cases where a discussion is not possible, or where the situation involves someone in a leadership role or from a different club, members can contact cds@rotary.org . Rotary staff will review the information and follow up appropriately.

Our efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to the future of Rotary. Data from the private sector consistently demonstrates that companies that prioritize an open, welcoming environment for everyone are more highly regarded and more profitable. To grow Rotary and become a more dynamic organization, we must take DEI seriously. And thanks to you, we are doing that.

We want to continue to engage with you about our ongoing DEI efforts. If you do not want to receive further information about DEI from us, you can use this link to unsubscribe from future email communications about this topic.

Thank you again for your support.

Valarie Wafer

Chair, DEI Task Force

You can support DEI in Rotary by:
By Shekhar Mehta
Rotary International President, 2021-22


In June, the RI Board of Directors strengthened its commitment to making diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a part of all aspects of Rotary’s culture. That commitment includes evolving our approach to leading, motivating, guiding, and governing our clubs.

As a Rotary leader, you will be central to this exciting effort. You have the opportunity to help our members develop the skills they need to embrace all facets of diversity. You can ensure that everyone is included in our efforts to take action to create change. And you can promote equity so that every person who engages with us has access to the resources, opportunities, networks, and support they need to thrive. Embracing DEI will enhance Rotary membership so we can make a bigger impact. It will also allow us to create open, welcoming environments that appeal to those who want to connect with us.

Making Rotary more diverse, equitable, and inclusive is what our members want us to do. In fact, last year, more than 31,000 members around the world responded to our first diversity, equity, and inclusion survey. They told us that DEI is important to them and that they want every member in every country to make DEI a priority. The Board, guided by Rotary’s DEI Task Force, made a plan to act on these survey findings and ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are ingrained in everything we do. You can view the survey results along with highlights from the plan at rotary.org/dei.

Our DEI Code of Conduct
We must take responsibility for how our words and actions may affect others. Although free expression is important, what we say and how we behave matter. This is why the Board approved a new DEI Code of Conduct that reflects our core values. It provides a supportive framework for how Rotary members can create and maintain an environment that is collaborative, positive, and healthy for everyone.

Simply put, the DEI Code of Conduct asks Rotary members to:
  • Use respectful language
  • Be supportive
  • Foster a welcoming and inclusive environment
  • Celebrate diversity
It’s important that you, as a Rotary leader, model the behavior outlined in the DEI Code of Conduct in person, virtually, and on social media. I also ask that you apply the DEI Code of Conduct by helping members recognize the impact that their words and actions can have on others.

If a member or participant tells you about a recent experience related to DEI, please take these conversations seriously. Do not minimize or excuse what happened. Listen, and then:
  • If the situation can be resolved through discussion, encourage the member or participant to talk to the person directly. Very often, a person who said something or acted in a way that made others feel excluded, marginalized, or targeted did not do so intentionally. Although there might be mistakes, missteps, and uncomfortable conversations along the way, the end result is a better, stronger Rotary.
  • If a discussion is not possible or the situation involves someone in a leadership role or another club, contact Club and District Support staff, who will review the information and follow up appropriately.
  • If anyone is in danger or their safety is in doubt, contact local law enforcement and notify  Rotary’s Club and District Support staff.
As an organization, we are stronger when we embrace the diversity found in our clubs and communities. We are more effective when we offer a valuable, inclusive experience that provides equitable opportunities for people to serve, to lead, and to participate with us. To grow Rotary and become a more dynamic organization, we must take DEI seriously. And with your support, we are doing that.


You can support DEI in Rotary by:
Contacting your Club and District Support representative if you need assistance

Exploring the Possibilities of Expanding Our Reach in Membership, Service & Conflict Resolution Through Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

By PDG Barb Feder, District 5495 DEI Chair

One thing we have learned over the past year is that DEI has become a hot topic with all sorts of controversy attached.

Those of you who know me soon become aware that I wear my rose-colored glasses when it comes to all things Rotary.

It seems to me that Rotary is the perfect stage for DEI. We are an international organization so by our nature we are diversified; we proclaim truth and fairness for all and have been known as the great equalizer for both our members and those we serve.

These things are self-evident when we look at the overview of the international organization. But when we view many of our clubs, we see that diversity and inclusion are not as defined as they could be.

Here is our opportunity to look at all the types of diversity available to us to enable our clubs to grow in qualified members, effective service projects and impact those communities we have not been able to reach.

This is not a mandate from on high. Each club should determine how DEI can best be implemented. If you and your club are happy with your current membership, no one is going to force DEI on you -- BUT if you want to grow in numbers and service, I urge you to consider mirroring the makeup of your community so you have among your members those who are familiar with community leaders you have not been able to reach.

In the next months I will be submitting articles of the various types of diverse groups you may wish to consider for your club.

We’ll start out with Vocational Diversity. Rotary has always recommended clubs have members representing all businesses and professionals within their locations. When was the last time your club looked at its membership make-up compared to those professions (especially the new ones) in your community?

When was the last time your club had a membership drive or club open house? When was the last time YOU brought a guest to a meeting (Zoom works) or a service project? Now that meetings have opened up a bit, this is a great time to make that invitation!

We have a District 5495 Task Force that has been assigned groups of clubs. Your Task Force Coordinator will be in touch to discuss your thoughts and needs.

Past District Governor Barb Feder can be reached at barbfeder@gmail.com and can assist your club with learning more about the value of DEI.

Resources

Imagine DEI 2022-23 Presidential Initiative