Posted by Pete Leenhouts on Jun 09, 2019

The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The second tenet of the Four-Way Test, “Is it fair to all concerned”, serves as a beacon to Rotarians worldwide.   Like any code, the Test is a standard to which we aspire to adhere. As Rotarians, we strive to be fair in our interactions inside and outside of Rotary.

When used as an adjective, “fair” means “in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate”; when used as an adverb, it means “without cheating or trying to achieve unjust advantage.”

The rules Rotarians live by, contained in our Manual of Procedure, are developed by committees of Rotarians drawn from individual clubs and reviewed on a regular and recurring basis. All Rotarians have a voice in the development and implementation of these policies. Because they are developed in open consultation, widely discussed and assessed, and in accordance with the Four Way Test, the procedures are considered fair, and Rotarians have little trouble accepting them.  

When Rotarians interact with each other, and their communities, we strive to be fair - to attain our personal and club objectives without cheating or trying to attain an unjust advantage. That’s not to say that we avoid competition, which in itself, is not a bad thing - it is that we strive to be fair in all such things.

Most Rotarians are intimately familiar with the Four Way Test, and it is not at all unusual to hear the tenets of the test applied in our daily exchanges with each other and our communities. Try it yourself - it makes a very real and positive difference in how we treat each other.      

The Four Way Test:

“Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?

  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?


  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”

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 personal and business ethics, The 4-Way Test 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 code of ethics 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.  The Four Way Test was adopted by Rotary in 1943, and is used in all clubs around the world.




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