Four Way Test of Rotary

Rotary International, the world's largest service organization officially adopted the "Four Way Test"
in January of 1943.  
Rotarians discussions of ethics are almost always tied to the Four Way Test....and with 1.2 million business leaders organized into 32,000 Rotary clubs internationally, this "measuring stick" is used world wide.  (Watch brief intro video about Rotary) 

1. Is it the TRUTH?

Is it FAIR to All Concerned?

Will it BUILD GOODWILL and Better Friendships?

 Will it Be BENEFICIAL to All Concerned?

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"The Rotary Four Way Test is the primary tool I have used when serving as a neutral mediator related to sacred sites, including issues related to healing in Minnesota 150 years after the US-Dakota Indian Conflict; this tool gives hope to those who have been marginalized and it gives boundaries to those who currently have the louder voice and power.  

To find the TRUTH we must first acknowledge the dignity in each other and invite ALL to share their story, even if this process is uncomfortable and at times offensive.  It takes a courageous community to invest unhurried time to discover the actions that will lead society to fairness, to a mutually beneficial future and to restored relationships."   

                  Rotarian Stephanie Hope Smith

History of the Four Way Test: Chicago Rotarian Herbert J Taylor drafted this thought in 1932 for the employees of his struggling company which was on the verge of bankruptcy. In his own words: To win our way out of this situation, I reasoned we must be morally and ethically strong. I knew that in right there was might. I felt that if we could get out our employees to think right they would do right. We needed some sort of ethical yardstick that everybody in the company could memorize and apply to what we thought, said, and did in our relations to others.

"So one morning I leaned over on my desk, rested my head in my hands. In a few moments, I reached for a white paper card and wrote down that which had come to me – in twenty-four words.”   Herb’s heads of department belonged to different religions and all found no incompatibility with their respective faiths. Thus, the test was applicable“for any man to take as arises.”

Putting it into action: When a company advertisement was placed before Herb, declaring his aluminum product as “the greatest cooking ware in the world,” Herb simply stated “We can’t prove that”. The advertisement was rewritten simply stating the facts.
The most significant and practical example of the test in action concerned an incident involving a Printing contract. One local printer won an order from Herb’s company beating all other tenders. The printer, however, soon realized that he had under-estimated his quote by $500. Legally, Club Aluminium could ignore the printer’s appeals and compel him to fulfill his side of the contract. Club Aluminium was deeply in debt and had acted in good faith but Herb asked his board to reconsider and pay the printer the extra $500. Remember the second line of the test, he told his fellow directors, - “is it fair to all concerned?”

five years, this company had pulled itself out of the red.
As Oren Arnold explains in his book on The Rotary club of Chicago entitled The Golden Strand, the club first learned of the test in 1939 when Herb was the Rotary President who went on to become the RI President in 1954.