Vocation refers to one’s “regular employment, calling, business, profession, or occupation.” In the term “Vocational Service,” Rotary employs the word “service” in its broadest sense, referring not merely to the merchandise sold or work done in any business or professional transaction, but also to the giving of due consideration to the needs and circumstances of the one served and to the continual thoughtfulness of others.
Vocational Service is stressed in Rotary’s Object in these words: “To encourage and foster high ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society.”
Statement on Vocational Service
Vocational Service is the way Rotary fosters and supports the application of the ideal of service in the pursuit of all vocations. Inherent in the Vocational Service ideal are:
1) adherence to, and promotion of, the highest ethical standards in all occupations, including faithfulness and fidelity to employers, employees, and associates, fair treatment of them and of competitors, the public, and all those with whom one has any business or professional relationships;
2) the recognition of the worthiness to society of all useful occupations, not just one’s own or those which are pursued by Rotarians;
3) the contribution of one’s vocational talents to the problems and needs of society.
Vocational Service is both the responsibility of a Rotary club and of its members. The role of the club is to implement and encourage the objective by frequent demonstration, by application to its own actions, by example, and by development of projects that help members contribute their vocational talents. The role of members is to conduct themselves, their businesses, and their professions in accordance with Rotary principles and to respond to projects which the club has developed.
The activity of assisting young people in the selection of careers is an activity of the club vocational service committee. It is suggested that clubs appoint a career development subcommittee under the vocational service committee to, among other things, promote, in cooperation with the youth committee, the activity of assisting young people in the selection of careers.
Vocational Service Activities
Clubs should arrange at their own meetings and encourage other groups in their communities to present programs on cultural, economic, and geographical conditions in other countries. The purpose of such programs is to help overcome possible difficulties arising from language barriers and differences in cultural and social backgrounds as a result of the mass movement of workers from one country to another. Clubs should consider taking steps to initiate or support citizens’ advisory bureaus for the purpose of assisting new arrivals in the community to assimilate into their new environment.
The attention of members should be drawn to consideration of the extent to which the policies of states and governments depend upon negotiations and agreements between the leaders of trade associations and union leaders, and the consequent opportunity for club members to strive to play a leading part in their trade associations and thus to have the possibility of influencing the establishment of policies in this field.
Rotary clubs are encouraged to establish communication with chambers of commerce and industry in their communities to explore service opportunities. When appropriate, clubs should develop service projects which would be more productive if undertaken jointly. Such projects might include employee training, post-retirement service opportunities, functional literacy programs, workplace drug abuse prevention and treatment programs, employment counseling, and vocational recognition programs.
The dimensions of vocational service are limited only by the imagination and ingenuity of clubs and Rotarians. Because Rotarians are classified in their clubs on the basis of their vocations, vocational service is an essential element in the execution of all Rotary programs; its effect is felt throughout the other Avenues of Service.
The RI Board urges clubs to obtain the advice of legal or liability insurance counsel with respect to the need for protection against liability resulting from vocational service activities, including the desirability of securing insurance or implementing other risk management practices as appropriate.
The Rotary Volunteers program was established to create greater awareness among Rotarians of the volunteer opportunities within Rotary-sponsored service projects as well as worthy projects of other organizations. The program assists clubs and districts in identifying those volunteers possessing expertise and skills unavailable locally, who can help in the completion of those service projects. Rotarians and spouses with Rotarians, as well as Rotaractors, Foundation alumni, and non-Rotarians (where Rotarians are not immediately available) may participate in the program.
The RI Board has established a limit of up to 1 percent of the total number of Rotarians in any district who may serve as registered Rotary Volunteers. In addition, Volunteers are expected to have a proven level of professional and technical skill and should be a minimum of 25 years of age.
Club presidents and governors should appoint Rotary Volunteer subcommittees within vocational service committees to enhance the use of services of Rotarians and non-Rotarians as Rotary Volunteers as well as the development of projects in which Rotary Volunteers can be utilized. RI maintains a registry which serves as an information resource for individual Rotarian and non-Rotarian volunteers and possible community and international service sites, as well as a resource list of organizations that place, train, or fund volunteers. Rotarians, qualified Foundation alumni, spouses of Rotarians, and Rotaractors serving as international volunteers between four to eight weeks may apply to the “Grants for Rotary Volunteers” program of The Rotary Foundation. Exceptions may be made by the trustee chairman for non-Rotarians if their specialized skills and experience are vital for the success of a Rotary service project.
Vocational Service Month
The RI Board has established “Vocational Service Month” to be observed annually in October as a special month devoted to vocational service, to emphasize the involvement of clubs, and not just individual Rotarians, in the everyday practice of the ideals of vocational service.
Specific activities recommended to clubs during “Vocational Service Month” are:
the recognition of a Rotary Volunteer at a district-level event;
promotion of involvement in Rotary Fellowships;
sponsorship of a vocational service activity or project; and
promotion of membership development in open classifications.
Business and Professional Relations Among Rotarians
The policy of Rotary with regard to business and professional relations among Rotarians is that a Rotarian should not expect, and far less should a Rotarian ask for, more consideration or advantages from a fellow Rotarian than the latter would give to any other business or professional associate. As an obligation to competitors and in the spirit of vocational service, a Rotarian shall not grant to a fellow Rotarian privileges that would not normally be accorded to others with whom the Rotarian has a business or professional relationship. Any use of the fellowship of Rotary as a means of gaining an advantage or profit is contrary to the spirit of Rotary. No commercial firm should sign letters “Yours Rotarily.”