A history of diverse backgrounds

When Chicago attorney Paul Harris founded Rotary, he invited his colleagues and friends to create a club where professionals of diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful friendships. Over time, that expanded to giving back to their communities.

Since its first club meeting more than 100 years ago, Rotary has grown into an international organization with clubs in nearly every country in the world. Our membership comprises people with countless individual identities who share a singular passion for making the world a better place for everyone.

In recognition of Rotary's history as a diverse organization, and in our careful planning for our future, Rotary has reaffirmed the organization's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  


Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement 

Rotary's Board of Directors voted in 2019 to adopt a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement:

As a global network that strives to build a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change, Rotary values diversity and celebrates the contributions of people of all backgrounds, regardless of their age, ethnicity, race, color, abilities, religion, socioeconomic status, culture, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Rotary will cultivate a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture in which people from underrepresented groups have greater opportunities to participate as members and leaders.

This statement is a step forward in Rotary's commitment to creating a positive environment for current and future members, as well as the communities they serve. 

Rotary's Action Plan

Rotary's strategic plan, known as the Action Plan, is rooted in our values and builds on the remarkable capabilities and spirit of Rotarians. It's our way of ensuring a stronger and more effective future for Rotary. The four priorities of the Action Plan are:

           Increase our impact. Find new ways to use our expertise to make a difference in our communities and around
             the globe. 
          Expand our reach. Build connections and opportunities that allow people who share our drive to make change. 
          Enhance participant engagement. Recommit to putting the needs, expectations, and growth of our participants
             at the center of all that we do.
         Increase our ability to adapt. Find new opportunities, create more paths to leadership, open our conversations
            to more diverse voices, and simplify how we operate. 

The priorities of the Action Plan — especially increasing our adaptability — align with our position on diversity, equity, and inclusion. When we embrace this concept, we advance our organization and create positive experiences for everyone who engages with Rotary. 

Engaging people from all cultures, experiences, and identities, and making them feel welcome and a part of the Rotary experience, will allow us to increase our membership, which is vital to the health and longevity of the organization. Inviting diverse perspectives will offer us new and bold ideas to keep Rotary relevant for the next century. 

Making diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority is everyone's responsibility — from club members to Rotary staff members.