545: President's October Message
- President's October Message
Dear fellow Rotarians,
The lead headline of the 28 July Chicago Tribune read: "Scandals
shake faith in big business." The newspaper reported that more than
half of area residents polled have little or no confidence in the
financial reports of public companies, and two-thirds believe that
the ethics of senior executives have declined in recent decades.
Understandably, the high-profile criminal investigations into the
practices of some corporate officers can foster global mistrust of
the business community, which in turn can destabilize entire
Given this breach of public trust, Rotarians need to be more diligent
than ever in upholding high business standards. For almost a century,
Rotarians have advocated fair business practices and high ethical
standards. Founder Paul Harris established a classification system to
achieve a diverse, balanced membership and discourage members from
pursuing unethical or unfair business interests. This unique emphasis
on professionalism distinguishes Rotary from all other service
Over the years, vocational service has lacked the visibility of other
Avenues of Service. It has even been referred to as the "Forgotten
Avenue of Service." To commemorate Vocational Service Month in
October, we must rededicate ourselves to this long-neglected area of
service. To remain relevant, we must use our vocational skills to
improve our businesses, provide training and skills to young people,
and ensure jobs for the disabled. Rotary's second avenue of service
offers unlimited opportunities to contribute to the community.
In 1932, during the Great Depression, Chicago Rotarian Herbert J.
Taylor created The 4-Way Test (see page 53) to help guide his
company, Club Aluminum. It was not only good for morale, it was good
for business. Consumers responded enthusiastically to the company's
emphasis on high quality and honest service. Taylor credited the test
with saving his company from bankruptcy and transforming it into a
multimillion-dollar corporation. When Taylor served as RI president
in 1954-55, he offered Rotary the copyright to his "test."
Many Rotarians have questioned the relevancy of The 4-Way Test in
today's challenging business climate. Yet these four simple questions
have withstood the test of time in serving as a moral compass for
Rotarians throughout the decades. Today more than ever, it is
imperative that Rotarians serve as role models in their businesses
and personal lives. It is not enough that we recite The 4-Way Test;
we must actually live it. We must show the world that Rotary is
relevant and acts with integrity.
Past RI Director Elmer R. Jordan wrote in the mid-1980s, "It is the
field of vocational service where you and I earn our daily bread,
that we as Rotarians are judged. The way in which we conduct our
business and profession is what really matters."
His words still ring true as Rotary approaches its 100th anniversary.
As Rotarians, we will be judged on our ability to uphold the public
trust. We must continue to Sow the Seeds of Love by fulfilling our
time-honored commitment to vocational service and the highest
standards of business ethics.
President, Rotary International