Vocational Service

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What is vocational service? If you are an active, engaged Rotarian, you probably view vocational  service as a way of life, even if you find it difficult to articulate a clear definition. 
The concept of vocational service
The Object of Rotary is a philosophical statement of Rotary’s purpose and the responsibilities of Rotarians. The concept of vocational service is rooted in the Second Object, which calls on Rotarians to “encourage and foster”:

•     High ethical standards in business and professions 
•     The recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations 
•     The dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society
As a Rotarian, how can you put these ideals into action? Consider these suggestions:
•     Talk about your vocation in your club, and take time to learn about fellow members’ 
•     Use your professional skills to serve a community. 
•     Practice your profession with integrity, and inspire others to behave ethically through 
your own words and actions.
•     Help a young person achieve his or her career aspirations. 
•     Guide and encourage others in their professional development.

If you do any of these things, you are performing vocational service. And if vocational service motivates and energizes you, then you’re in the right place, because vocational service is the very essence of Rotary. It is what sets Rotary apart from other service organizations. 

What first brought you to Rotary? In all likelihood, someone identified you as a prospective Rotarian because you are a respected member of your business or professional field — in Rotary parlance, your “classification.” Each Rotary club’s membership represents a cross-section of its community’s business and professional population, which ensures diversity in experiences and perspectives. Classification and vocational service go hand in hand. Just as Rotarians represent their vocations in Rotary, so do they represent Rotary in their vocations. 
Integrity and ethics

Promoting integrity through ethical behavior is an essential part of what it means to be a Rotarian. Two standards developed by Rotarians — The Four-Way Test and the Rotary Code of Conduct — provide a road map for ethical behavior in the workplace and other areas of life.

The Four-Way Test
The Four-Way Test was conceived in 1932 by businessman Herbert J. Taylor, a member of the Rotary Club of Chicago who served as Rotary International president in 1954-55. Having taken on the task of saving a company from bankruptcy, Taylor developed the test as an ethical guide to follow in all business matters. The company’s survival was credited to this simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary International in 1934, The Four-Way Test remains an essential standard against which Rotarians measure ethical behavior. It has been translated into dozens of languages and promoted by Rotarians worldwide. 
Rotary Code of Conduct

The Rotary Code of Conduct (formerly known as the Declaration of Rotarians in Businesses and Professions) provides a framework for ethical behavior that all Rotarians can use, together with The Four-Way Test, in their business and professional activities. 

Rotary Code of Conduct

As a Rotarian, I will

1. Exemplify the core value of integrity in all behaviors and activities
2. Use my vocational experience and talents to serve in Rotary
3. Conduct all of my personal, business, and professional affairs ethically, encouraging and fostering high ethical standards as an example to others
4. Be fair in all dealings with others and treat them with the respect due to them as fellow human beings
5. Promote recognition and respect for all occupations which are useful to society
6. Offer my vocational talents: to provide opportunities for young people, to work for the relief of the special needs of others, and to improve the quality of life in my community
7. Honor the trust that Rotary and fellow Rotarians provide and not do anything that will bring disfavor or reflect adversely on Rotary or fellow Rotarians
8. Not seek from a fellow Rotarian a privilege or advantage not normally accorded others in a business or professional relationship
Advancing high ethical standards in the workplace

As leaders in their businesses and professions, Rotarians can advance high ethical standards by setting a positive example among employees, associates, and the community in general. All types of work-related interaction offer an opportunity to encourage ethical behavior. Here are a few specific ways that Rotarians can integrate ethics into their daily work life:
•     Discuss and emphasize honesty, accountability, fairness, integrity, and respect when hiring and training employees.
•     Praise and encourage the exemplary behavior of your colleagues.
•     Demonstrate your personal commitment to high ethical standards in relations with customers, vendors, and business associates, treating each business interaction with care and consideration.
Rotary’s commitment to corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is a company’s commitment toward the community and environment in which it operates. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines it as “the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.” According to a 2012 article on social ethics,* 
there are currently three defining trends in corporate social responsibility: 

1. Giving aligned with core business expertise, in which corporations target their philanthropy to issues related to what they do as a company 
2. Employee engagement through company-sponsored volunteer programs, which raise morale and attract employees who share the company’s social values
3. The communication of a company’s social values and commitments through social media or other methods
The following statement in the Rotary Code of Policies (section 26.020.1) describes the organization’s commitment to integrity and corporate social responsibility:

•     From its origins, Rotary has built a philosophy based upon integrity in businesses and professions. Rotary clubs and individual Rotarians are committed to vocational service and high ethical standards in all of their interactions. These are summed up in the Object of Rotary, our core values (Service, Fellowship, Diversity, Integrity, Leadership), The Four-Way Test, and the Rotary Code of Conduct, carried out through our worldwide network of Rotary clubs and Rotarians.
•     For Rotary International, as a corporate entity, its social responsibility philosophy can be summed up by our commitment to transparency in governance, stewardship of financial resources and the environment, and fair labor practices. 
Vocational training teams

Vocational training teams offer a hands-on approach to vocational service. In VTTs, groups of professionals travel either to learn more about their vocation or to teach local professionals about a particular field. A VTT helps create sustainable change by strengthening the knowledge and skills of individuals and communities and thereby improving their capacity to serve. In addition to experiencing a new culture and fostering global connections, Rotarians participating in a vocational training team have the opportunity to make an impact long after their travels end.Teams that address one of Rotary’s six areas of focus and follow certain specific guidelines for scope, sustainability, and measurability can qualify for a global grant through The Rotary Foundation. Funded teams must consist of a minimum of one Rotarian team leader with general Rotary knowledge, leadership skills, international experience, and experience in the area of focus, and at least two other participants (Rotarians or non-Rotarians) with two years of work experience in the area of focus. Learn more and see complete guidelines for global grant-funded VTTs at www.rotary.org/grants.