People from all over the world have multiple reasons for joining Rotary. Many new Rotarians each year join for the same reason I did — because Rotary is a great way to benefit your career. When I was a new attorney starting out in Alabama, Gay and I became partners in her father’s firm. He instilled in us the value of joining Rotary as a way to build relationships and demonstrate to potential clients that we were serious professionals who held firm to values even more robust than what our profession required.
Rotary’s commitment to vocational service is built on the highest ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful work, and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society. That last point is so important. No matter our profession, we all contribute mightily to the world when we conduct our work with integrity and always adhere to The Four-Way Test.
I have made balancing the demands of Rotary with professional and family commitments one of my priorities as president. No Rotarian should feel pressured to put in more time than a volunteer position should ever demand. This is true for several reasons, one of them being that the work we do in our day jobs is just as important to Rotary as the work we do in the organization. We carry our Rotary values everywhere, and our professional success helps build a case for Rotary every day we go into the office.
This is particularly important in our efforts to reach younger new members. We want to see a Rotary where no one is ever asked to choose between being a good Rotarian and being a good parent, business owner, manager, or employee. When we ask busy young people to join us, we should not be asking them to give up their time and freedom. We should be rewarding them with an experience that makes everything they already do even more inspiring.
Providing greater balance within Rotary will have another benefit as well: It will create opportunities for other Rotarians, including Rotaractors, to step up and take a leadership role on projects and committees. This will ensure that they remain engaged in our clubs and inspired to be Rotarians for life.
Throughout the world, Rotary is admired for its vocational service and for the time-honored values we instill in all business relationships. As we continue our work to grow Rotary, let us remember that vocational service remains a crucial selling point to potential members.
Rotary Connects the World, and by making Rotary’s vocational service work known to people in more professions and at different stages of their careers, we will help grow our organization and make it stronger and more diverse.