The Rotary Club has a four-part ethics guideline by which they measure their principles and actions. It is called the Four-Way Test and it was originally written to help a depression era business through some tough times.
Herbert J. Taylor was asked to assume the presidency of Club Aluminum Company in Chicago in 1932 with the company owing $400,000 more than its assets. Not a pretty picture. He wrote the Four Way Test and with it in place, they raised their fortunes and not only survived, but thrived.
So here it is:
“The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say, or do”
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all Concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Has the Test lost its usefulness in modern society, as some critics maintain? Is it sophisticated enough to guide business and professional men and women in these fast-paced times?
Is it the TRUTH? There is a timelessness in truth that is unchangeable. Truth cannot exist without justice.
Is it FAIR to all concerned? The substitution of fairness for the harsh principles of doing business at arm’s length has improved rather than hurt business relationships.
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? Man is by nature a cooperative creature and it is his natural instinct to express love.
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? This question eliminates the dog-eat-dog principle of ruthless competition and substitutes the idea of constructive and creative competition.
The Four-Way Test is international. It transcends national boundaries and language barriers. It knows no politics, dogma or creed. More than a code of ethics, it has all the ingredients for a successful life in every way. It can and will work in today’s society.
Full disclosure here: I am a Rotarian and have been for nearly twenty years. I like to think that the Four-Way Test has had a positive influence on the way we ran our business and have lived our lives.
How can you make it work for you?