Rotary International has a statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity that is often misunderstood. You can read it here: https://www.rotary.org/en/about-rotary/diversity-equity-and-inclusion. The statement does not mandate a change in the political views of Rotarians or a require that Rotarians be re-educated to become more enlightened.
The statement is about how Rotary clubs can provide a welcoming environment. It is about our core value of accepting people of all types, from all vocations. It is about ensuring that everyone can participate, no matter their circumstances, as long as they can meet the requirements of Rotary. It is about finding reasonable accommodations for people who may have physical limitations to participation.
Every year we lose about 15% of our members. Some die. Some move. Most leave for two reasons: they were not satisfied with the activities of the club, or the culture of the club did not make them feel welcomed.
The first is relatively easy to address- have the members create a club strategic plan. If the club members are involved in determining the activities and direction of the club, they have less reason to be disappointed. Your club can start the process by contacting Sloane (Amy) Schmidt, District 5020 Visioning Chair, at email@example.com.
The second is more complex. It is about being a club that has a culture of welcoming. Is your club welcoming? What is a welcoming club?
Being welcoming is more than an attitude- it is an action.
Welcoming starts with the public face of your club- your website and social media. Do they provide the information necessary for potential members to visit your club? Do they give the information about how to join? Do they help others understand what it means to be a member of your club?
Welcoming happens when visitors come to your club. Welcoming is a personal responsibility of all the members, including you. Do you actively welcome the visitor? Do you make sure that they meet the people in the club? Do you ensure that they know what is going on? Do you answer the questions and let them know how to join?
Welcoming doesn’t end when someone becomes a member. Welcoming Rotarians to take part is as equally important. Why would we want someone to be a Rotarian if we don’t welcome them to become involved in the club? Once again, welcoming is the responsibility of every Rotarian, including you and including the new Rotarian. People often leave Rotary because there is an imbalance between the amount they wish to be involved and the amount of involvement they are offered. We all have a responsibility to share the load and share the joys with our fellow Rotarians. A member who is welcomed into committees, welcomed into leadership and welcomed into fellowship is the one most likely to remain as a Rotarian.
Welcoming is not someone else’s job. It’s easy instead to get caught up with visiting our friends, being involved with club business, or working on projects and not notice that a welcome has not been extended.
We are people of action and welcoming is the most essential of those actions.