Posted by Mary Lou Harrison, District 7070 Governor , 2018-19

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.

Rotary Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy Statement, January 2019

Wow. This is exciting news from the Rotary International Board of Directors!

At its January 2019 meeting , the RI Board adopted the above Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy Statement. It also set a goal for the number of women in Rotary and in Rotary Leadership positions to be 30 percent by June 2023. To ensure that real change happens, the Board requested that the General Secretary of RI, John Hewko, develop an action plan in support of both the goal and the statement. 

Members of District 7070 should know that, we too, are committed to creating both clubs and a District Leadership Team that reflects the communities in which we live, work, and serve. Our Governance Committee has been actively discussing how best to do this. The committee is proposing that we create a Diversity and Inclusion Committee and a Leadership Development Committee to help us with our goal of increased diversity, inclusion, and access to leadership positions. We expect to bring more information about the role of these committees forward at the District Assembly to be held on 11 May 2019. We will also monitor with great interest the ideas that come forward at the Rotary International level as we work on our own approach. 

Another opportunity for us to proactively welcome and include more people to the Rotary family is the 2019 Pride Toronto Parade in which members of Rotary District 7070 will be participating for the first time on the afternoon of Sunday, June 23, 2019. We have a walking permit for up to 100 people, and the registration page is now open! There is no cost to participate, and you are welcome to bring your family and friends to walk with us. My thanks to Presidents Karen Somerville (Toronto East),  Nicole Patterson (East York), and Jeff Dobson (Toronto) for getting our participation organized. 

My thanks also to Grant Godino, member of the LGBT Rotary & Friends Fellowship for this great photo of Rotary and Rotaract participation in Melbourne Pride!

You may be interested to know that the Rotary Club of Halifax Harbourside prides itself (pun intended) on being the first Rotary Club in the world to take part in a Pride Parade. They march in support of the diverse community they live in, and also for LGBT club members and Rotarians with LGBT family and friends. Take a look at their website and read how they describe themselves for an idea about what it means to be diverse and inclusive. I visited this club in October, and they are! Thanks to DGE Louisa Horne for her Pride photo.















To be a truly diverse and inclusive organization will take some work. but there are opportunities all around us and lots of great ideas to share. Rotaract Clubs tend to do an excellent job of attracting people that reflect a variety of backgrounds, interests, and passions. Take the newly-chartered Rotaract Club of Toronto Danforth. Reading the bios of this amazing group of young people in their Charter Night Program reminded me, yet again, what an incredible example we have in our Rotaract Clubs about how to draw the circle wide and include everyone with a passion for Service Above Self. 

Our Rotary family can only benefit from more and different voices at the table, more people contributing their ideas and energy to meet community needs. Let's do our best to draw the circle as wide as we can imagine, and then some.

Yours in Rotary,

Mary Lou


Mary Lou Harrison, District Governor 2018-19

P.S. In doing some research for this article, I came across an excellent short video from the Law Society of Ontario about equality, diversity, and inclusion. Have a look and see what you think we can apply to Rotary.