Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
International president reaffirms: these are key values and goals, both for Rotary International and for the Wilmington Rotary Club
"In Rotary, we celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion," Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta and President-Elect Jennifer Jones declared in a message delivered to all U.S. Rotarians in the October 2021 Rotary magazine. "Diversity has long been one of our core values," their statement continued. "But there's more we can do to exemplify diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); to expand our ability to reflect the communities we serve; and to respond to our communities' needs."
That message included a strengthened version of the DEI statement Rotary International adopted in 2019. A downloadable PDF copy of that statement is available in the "Documents" section of this site. Go to DEI statement.
On Nov. 16, 2020, the Wilmington Rotary Club's Board of Directors adopted and endorsed the earlier DEI statement. That was publicly affirmed in December 2020 with a news release, published in Wilmington's StarNews newspaper. Go to 2020 DEI announcement. Our club has also established a DEI Committee. Originating in 2013 as the "Four-Way Test Committee," it was renamed in 2020.
The club's 2021-24 Strategic Plan, unanimously adopted by the club's Board on Sept. 20, 2021, includes several DEI goals in its section concerning membership and recruiting. That plan is also available in this site's "Documents" section. Go to Strategic Plan.
A draft version of the strategic plan sparked considerable debate among the club's members. A detailed summary of members' arguments, pro and con, appears in the club's Sept. 28, 2021 newsletter. Go to newsletter.
Rotary International's current DEI statement concludes, "we are committed to being
honest and transparent about where we are in our DEI journey as an organization, and to continuing to learn and do better."
RI president endorses DEI objectives on visit to our club
On Jan. 11, 2022, we were honored with a visit from Rotary International President Mehta. He complimented the club on its involvement with the "Our Stories" project. Spearheaded by District Governor-nominee Allen Quigley and Rotarian Terri Everett of our club, Our Stories describes itself as "Tough conversations on race." It is a series of online conversations between Black and White volunteers about their personal experiences.
"The 'Your Stories' program is really very nice, a wonderful thing," President Mehta told our members. "It gives insight into the diversity that we live in, the different types of people around the world. Diversity, equity and inclusion is something that has become one of the mantras right now of Rotary. The board has taken a very special position on it and we want the clubs around the world to be inclusive and to be diverse. After all, each of our communities -- our club has to be reflective of the communities that we live in. I think if there is an organization that is really diverse, it is our 200 different countries. Imagine how many languages, how many cultures, how many colors, how many orientations our people are. As Paul Harris had said, tolerance is the cornerstone of Rotary. That is what has kept us together. That is why we strongly believe in DEI. I was so happy to observe the 'Your Stories' program. May that program and all the other things that you do flourish absolutely.”
Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta pitches to Rotarian David Morrison (a former member of this club) at Wilmington's Miracle Field on Jan. 12, 2022. Several area Rotary clubs, including this one, have provided support for the facility, which provides inclusive recreational opportunities for athletes with disabilities.
Learn more, get new perspectives
The DEI Committee is compiling a list of resources that Rotarians may find helpful in considering diversity, equity and inclusion in the club and in our community; in understanding our community's history; and in helping to chart a path forward. Links to those resources will be posted here and updated regularly.
First is a report from 2015 about the club's history of diversifying its own membership in its first century, notably by reversing Rotary's former "male only" rule in the late 1980s. Go to Diversity history.
Rotary Learning Center courses
These courses, and the guides and assessment that follow, are available only to Rotarians. Access requires logging into the "My Rotary" site using your email address as your user name. Unsure about your password? You can easily reset it.
This assessment can help raise members’ awareness of the diversity in our community and build member support for increasing diversity.
Diversifying Your Club. (A downloadable PDF file.)
Rotary Voices blog
These are commentaries from Rotarians about their experiences in making their clubs more inclusive.
Talks by Rotarian Xavier Ramey
Xavier Ramey is a Black Rotarian whose vocation is helping organizations pursue diversity, equity and inclusion. He is CEO of the organization Justice Informed.
Presentation to the Rotary Club of Milwaukee. Feb. 3, 2020
TED Talk on the meaning of privilege. TEDxChicago, November 2017
Magazine, newspaper and online articles
When White Supremacists Overthrew a Government. On Wilmington's 1898 coup. From Vox.com
What is a Microaggression? Fourteen things people think are fine to say at work — but are actually racist, sexist, or offensive. From BusinessInsider.com
The Race Gap. How U.S. systemic racism plays out in Black lives. From Reuters
What is Unconscious Bias? Plus Top Strategies to Help Avoid it. From Envato Tutorials
What is Juneteenth? From History.com
The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth. From the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The Myths of the Thanksgiving Story and the Lasting Damage They Imbue. From Smithsonian Magazine.
Project Implicit. How we can identify bias in ourselves: an interactive process. From Harvard University