7 Steps Rotary Can Take to Increase Diversity in its Leadership

Editor’s Note: The following is a fifth excerpt (with a slight reformatting) from the 2013 paper “Women Still a Challenge for Rotary” by 14 Rotarians, representing 12 zones, 14 Districts and 12 countries.

To this end, we request Rotary International take the following actions.

  1. Make a public statement to both internal and external communities to the effect that Rotary is committed to creating greater diversity and an increase in leadership opportunities for women.
  1. Establish as quickly as possible a Presidential Committee with exemplary diverse membership to bring forth a report on how Rotary can

a.Increase the opportunities for more women but also younger or more recent Rotarians to attain leadership positions;

b. In addition to including proportional age and gender diversity factors in nomination committee membership change their role to a “qualification review function” or phase out “nomination committees” entirely;

c. Increase the choosing of leaders through direct elections by Rotarians in good standing using electronic voting procedures; and

d. Suggest ways in which new opportunities for leadership can be built into Rotary.

  1. Regulation-400x287Consider new units of organization within Rotary that provide greater opportunities for leadership within Rotary for women in particular;

4. Recognize cultural difference and recent geopolitical trends toward unity.

This type of initiative is mentioned here because it was a big part of the discussion. In 2013-2014, RIBI will elect as its president a woman. The thinking is that, had Rotary been organized along the lines of national entities such as RIBI, there would be more women as the head of such units and therefore more potential Rotary Presidents. Such a position would be an alternative source of presidents or an alternative route to the Board of Directors.

This entire area needs to be intensely studied for the good of Rotary’s future. The current ideological framework which appears to discount or worse ignores linguistic and cultural differences, at the District level, needs to be seriously challenged.  Relying on numbers alone as the present configuration of Districts and Zones appears to do, creates and exacerbates the management of many districts and hence the implementation of equity initiatives in many units.

  1. Address Incidents of Discrimination by Gender by creating a position of “Ombudsman” to whom Clubs, District Governors, women or others can report and have investigated and adjudicated, claims of gender inappropriate practices at the club and/or district level.
  1. With respect to Single Gender clubs and the RI Strategic Plan, Rotary must establish and publicize as a component of its strategic plan a process by which single gender clubs will be eliminated by 2020;
  1. Increase transparency by having each Zone & District

a. Annually publish the progress being made towards mixed gender clubs with the names and locations by Zone, District and Club of those clubs who fail to be in compliance.

b. Annually publish the membership data by RI, Zone, District and Club by gender and age categories.

c. Annually publish leadership demographics at the RI, Zone, District and Club by gender and age.

d. Create an oversight committee by Zone to oversee and review the implementation of this initiative.

  1. Create an appeal process by which any findings under the current review process can be appealed.



About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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