Invite diversity, dance with inclusion


There was once a young girl who was very forgetful. She would forget to tidy her room, forget to bring back her lunch bag from school and so on and so forth. Her mother, as all mothers do, was constantly reminding her to be careful and alert. One day, her mother noticed a hole in the pocket of her dress and asked her to mend it. “I’ll do it later, Mom” came the reply as she rushed off to play. That evening, her uncle visited and gave her a bunch of coins as a treat to buy her favourite chocolates. She pocketed the coins and hopped happily across the streets to the sweet shop. Alas, when she reached there, all the coins were gone as they had slipped through the hole in her pocket!

We need to be very mindful that the members we are adding through the membership thrust are fostered and developed into fine Rotarians. Let’s not forget to mend that hole in the pocket and ensure that the new members are not lost but are safe and snug in our clubs.

One way to ensure this is put in place a mechanism at the club wherein new members are engaged with and invited to participate in club activities, their families are made to feel at ease at club fellowship events and so on. New members are like delicate young saplings which need nurturing.

Another great path to fortify our clubs is gender diversity in membership. Rotary is a humanitarian organisation and our membership will do well to represent gender balance. By being skewed in favour of male membership our clubs are losing out on a big opportunity, represented by the ideas, strength, work force, skill sets and so much more that women members will bring to Rotary. So, I ask you, my friends, invite women to join your clubs — let’s ensure that by the end of this Rotary year, there remains not a single men-only club in Rotary in India!

When women do join our clubs, let’s value their membership and the contribution that they can make. Let’s remove from our minds all the pre-conceived notions and misconceptions that may exist. Assimilate women members into the fabric of the club — encourage their participation, give credence to their ideas, build confidence in their work and most important, open up a leadership path for them. For, we must remember that diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance!

A S Venkatesh
RI Director, 2021–23

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