Posted by David Button on Jan 02, 2021
January is Vocational Service Month on the Rotary calendar. Vocational Service is at the heart of Rotary, which was founded on the classification system of membership. Business and professional life are the bedrock of Rotary, and Vocational Service is a major force in developing and mentoring young professionals.
A Short History Lesson in honour, integrity, and trustworthiness in business.
Originally only one representative from each business or profession was invited to join a club. Rotary's founder Paul Harris, felt that if several members of the same profession were to join, they would either sit together and “talk shop” or compete against each other for other members’ business. The idea of “trade-boosting” was gradually eliminated and by 1912, Rotarians were no longer required to exchange business with one another. Many members of the Rotary Club of Berwick are or have been local business people using their connections to help the community. Rotarians must trade with high ethical standards in business, so by dealing with a Rotarian you expect to get a fair trade and good service. Remembering Rotarians give back to the community also means that your money may end up helping others in the community.
The Forgotten Avenue of Service
Of Rotary’s five Avenues of Service* – Club, Vocational, Community, and International – Vocational is difficult to define, so it is sometimes called the “Forgotten Avenue of Service”. One reason is Club, Community, International and Youth Service activities usually involve groups of Rotarians. They enjoy the fellowship of Club Service, the satisfaction of serving the needs of their communities, and the hope that their International Service promotes world peace and understanding. But Vocational Service – the second Avenue of Service -- is generally conducted by individual members.
A name badge from the 1928 Rotary International Convention features Rotary’s mottoes.
Service Above Self
Rotary’s early leaders often cited the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – as the guiding principle of Rotary’s Vocational Service. By the time the National Association of Rotary Clubs held its first convention in 1910, the networking emphasis had begun to shift. The majority of clubs told the new Civic Committee that Rotary should move from being a booster club to improving their communities. The concept of “he profits most who serves his fellows best” became “He profits most who serves best”. This idea morphed into “Service, not Self” and finally, it became the Rotary slogan we know today -- “Service Above Self”.
In 1940, Rotary International defined the Object of Vocational Service “to encourage and foster: high ethical standards in business  and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; the dignifying by each Rotarian of his occupation as an opportunity to serve society.” Today’s Rotarians still pride themselves on being able to use their professional stature and knowledge to make things happen worldwide, wherever there is a need for change.

The Rotary Code of Ethics
Back in 1912, Glenn Mead succeeded Paul Harris as President of Rotary International. He recommended a code of business ethics be formulated to contribute to the advancement of business morality. At that time, there were no consumer protection laws, or truth-in-advertising statutes. Fraudulent and deceptive business practices were the norm. The unwritten law was caveat emptor, “Let the buyer beware.” Since the adoption of the Rotary Code of Ethics in 1915, at least 145 national industrial codes of conduct practice have been adopted as a direct result of the influence of Rotarians.
The Four-Way Test
Rotary’s current code of ethical conduct – The Four-Way Test – was developed during the Great Depression, by a Rotarian, Herb Taylor, from the United States, as a four-part ethical guideline that helped him rescue a beleaguered business. The code’s four points are simple and direct – “Of all the things we think, say or do:
  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? 
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”
The Four-Way Test was officially adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has been translated into the languages of over 100 countries. It appears on highway billboards, in schoolrooms and on the walls of businesses, in labour contracts, courtrooms and halls of government. It’s even on the moon, in the form of a Four-Way Test pin planted on the surface by an astronaut.
Please consider supporting your local Rotary businessman, so that they can continue to support the community. Rotary has a lot of work to do in the City of Casey If you have a business, business skills or a strong link to the community that will help Rotary make a stronger impact, please step forward and help us. Please contact David Button by email in the first instance.