From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served as RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.
This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy.
Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:
Of the things we say or do:
We believe in promoting the facts, so first we have to ask:
Is it the truth?
Next to truthfulness is the importance of fairness, so we ask:
Is it fair to all concerned?
One of the reasons Rotary was founded was to build friendships, so we ask:
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Rotarians aim to benefit the community in all that we do. So we ask:
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.