Rotary’s Four-Way Test

Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

History of Four-Way Test

In Rotary we have the Four-Way Test because there was a man – Herbert J. Taylor – a man of action, a man of faith, a man of high moral principle, and a business man. It is important to understand that he was not a minister, not a professor of ethics, not a philosopher… he was a business man.

With a series of successes in business behind him, and when he was in line to become the president of the Jewel Tea Company in Chicago in 1925, he left Jewel Tea after being asked to accept the challenge of resuscitating the Club Aluminum Company that was caught in the quicksand of the depression.

He wanted to create a brief ethical statement that could be placed on the desks of business people. At first, his statement was about a hundred words; he decided that was too long. After more thought, he honed it down to seven statements, but decided that also was too long. Finally he came up with the four basic questions that today we call the “Four-Way Test.”

Herb checked it out with his four department heads: One was a Roman Catholic, the second a Christian Scientist, the third an Orthodox Jew, and the fourth a Presbyterian. They all agreed the test not only coincided with their religious beliefs, but provided a superb guide for personal and business life.

The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways.

In 1942, Richard Vernor of Chicago, then a Director and later Treasurer of Rotary International, suggested that Rotary adopt the Four-Way Test as a viable ethical standard for business people, and the Board voted approval in January 1943.

In 1954, Herb Taylor transferred property rights of the Four-Way Test to Rotary International, retaining the rights to use the Test for the Club Aluminum Company and himself.

Herb Taylor served as Rotary International’s president in 1954-55.

*The above information came from Rotary’s Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do, by Dr. Myron J. Taylor. Myron Taylor is an interesting Rotarian in his own right (he is not related to Herb Taylor).  AHRC’s Foundation Chairman had the pleasure of finding Myron J. Taylor, shortly after he wrote his book about the Four-Way Test, and spending a while chatting with him in his home in Encino. A lot was learned that evening from a man who truly loves Rotary and has been a Rotarian for most of his 80-plus years of life!

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