Being a good ally to those with disabilities

By S Marathe (full name withheld upon author’s request)

As a young Rotary member who has lived with a vision impairment, I have come to understand the importance of allies. An ally is anyone that actively aspires to be inclusive and is intentional through their thoughts, actions, and words to consciously promote a respectful and inclusive culture.

Many organizations are actively attempting to address the low employee representation across minority groups of gender, culture, and disability and are adopting a range of strategies. But many times, it’s the day-to-day actions that make the most difference. For International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December, I wanted to share some of the characteristics that make a great ally. Continue reading

What we can accomplish when we embrace diversity

A mother adjusts the strap on her son's new prosthesis.
A mother adjusts the strap on her son’s new prosthesis.

By K V Mohan Kumar, charter president of the Rotary Club of Bangalore, Prime, India, and an ambassador of the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation

As members of Rotary, we can show our support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) not only by our words, but by our actions. The way we design projects and include people of all backgrounds as volunteers and recipients speaks louder than words.

In 2021, three members of our district came together to plan a medical project that fitted individuals who had lost hands with free below-the-elbow prosthetics at a camp in Dharwad, India, in October. All three of these members were from different occupations and backgrounds; one a microbiologist, one a business entrepreneur, and one an IT project manager. Together in Rotary, they blended their unique skills to lead a project benefitting people from all backgrounds.

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Vaccination education for all our neighborhoods

Members of the Rotary Club of Plano West, Texas, USA, spend Saturdays distributing information about vaccinations on door hangers in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.

By Alex Johnson, President of Rotary Club of Plano West, Texas, USA

From my town of Plano, a suburb of Dallas, Texas, we see the virus devastating lives in India. Last year, COVID-19 affected people overseas, and then took hold in America. We can counter the threat and stay safe by getting people vaccinated.

Most people have access to information on COVID-19 vaccines. But we discovered many minority residents do not. Motivated by a wish to help our fellow citizens, we partnered with our city government to inform this group.

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What you can do to make your club more LGBTQ+ inclusive

Grant Godino and members of the LGBT Rotarians and Friends Fellowship.

Grant Godino

By Grant Godino, president-elect of the LGBT Rotarians and Friends Fellowship and member of the Rotary Club of Strathmore, Australia

As I have started to share my ideas, opinions, and stories about LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse, queer, and questioning) inclusion in Rotary, I have heard so many of our leaders say to me: “We’re a really decent club/district. We don’t have any bad people. So, we don’t have a problem. Right?” I’ve also heard things like “Why is Rotary doing something so political” and “There are no gay people in my community.” Continue reading

Rotaractors promote diversity, equity, and inclusion

A screenshot of the video Big West Rotaract created for the 2020 Rotaract Post Convention.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about Rotary’s DEI statement, what DEI means, and how you can put it into practice in this 15-minute course in the Learning Center.

By Janel Breen, member of the Rotary Club of Cupertino and Rotaract Club of Silicon Valley, General Secretary of Big West Rotaract Multi-District Informational Organization

Let’s play a game. I’m American. What assumptions have you just made about me? My parents are Filipino immigrants. How have those assumptions now changed? 

Without realizing it, we make assumptions of people on the little we actually know about them. Everyone has some prejudicial beliefs. It’s how society taught us to think. After all, how did societies like mine define lighter skin as the universal truth for “beautiful”? But we CAN change it. We CAN confront these beliefs if we are intentional about it, but we can’t get defensive. We have to accept that our understanding of the world is changing and to do better with our new knowledge. Continue reading

Sunrise after Dark increases Rotary’s diversity in Louisiana

Sunrise After Dark members

New members of the Sunrise after Dark satellite club during an induction ceremony earlier this year.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about flexible club formats in this course in the Learning Center

By Tracey Antee, past president of the Rotary Club of Opelousas Sunrise, Louisiana, USA

During my tenure as club president in 2019-20, I made a goal of starting a satellite club that would meet after regular business hours, hence the name Sunrise after Dark. A young professional group in the community just ended, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to reach out to these individuals and invite them to join Rotary, within the ease provided by the satellite format. Continue reading

Engaging more women in Rotary

Cyndi Doragh

By Cyndi Doragh, Zone 34 assistant Rotary coordinator and member of the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South, Florida, USA

Nearly three decades ago, I wanted to join Rotary. The first club I tried to join told me they weren’t accepting any more bankers. (In those days, it was common for Rotary clubs to limit the amount of people based on their profession.) A month later, I learned they welcomed a new member – and he was a banker.

I really wanted to be a Rotarian, and I soon found a club that welcomed me with open arms. I have been a proud member for 28 years. During that time though, barriers still exist for women who want to join a Rotary club. Only 23% of our global membership is women! We can do better. We need to be leaders and show our communities that everyone is welcome in Rotary, no matter what.

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Selma Rotary Club thrives on diversity

Selma club bicycle giveaway

The Selma Rotary Club partners with business leaders to invest in youth.

Jerria Martin

By Jerria Martin, past president of the Rotary Club of Selma, Alabama, USA

Diversity is important to my club, and that’s a big reason why I am a member and past president. My club is a second family to me, one that began investing in me all the way back in 2006.

As a senior in high school, I received a Rotary Scholarship as part of my club’s annual scholarship competition. The program is just one way my club embraces and seeks diversity. We invite a graduating senior from every high school, public and private, from all neighborhoods and walks of life, to share their leadership and service skills with us. Every senior who is chosen receives a scholarship. Continue reading

Why Passport clubs work

Gold Coast Passport Rotary Club

Gold Coast Passport Rotary Club of District 9640 at Karma Collab Hub in June.

By Jayde Purnell, Gold Coast Passport Rotary Club, District 9640 (Australia)

A passport Rotary club is designed to attract a diverse demographic, and from my perspective, it’s working. On the last Tuesday of each month, I merrily waltz my way into Karma Collab Hub for an evening of wine, cheese, laughter and community impact; all in the company of great friends and with the guidance of Rotary members from local clubs. It’s unlike any community I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve come to realise that my Rotary badge is consistently (and quite unintentionally) accompanied by a wide grin. Continue reading

How women lead differently

By Kathleen Rose, vice president of the Rotary Club of Gilroy, California, USA

I attended the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, in June, to widen my own leadership experience as I prepare to serve as club president next year. I was asked to present a breakout session entitled Women’s Leadership Skills: Strengthening Our Rotary Legacy. What an experience! Although I have been a scholar of leadership for many years, have written on the subject often, and have had the opportunity to speak nationally, it was a thrill to present to an international audience of Rotary leaders who are clearly motivated change agents.

If ever there were a time to focus on the work of leadership, the development of leadership skills, and the debate around qualified leadership, it is now. Continue reading