One of the most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics in the world is the Rotary Four-Way Test. It was created by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy. Taylor looked for a way to save the struggling company mired in depression-caused financial difficulties. He drew up a 24-word code of ethics for all employees to follow in their business and professional lives. The Four-Way Test became the guide for sales, production, advertising and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy.
Herb Taylor became president of Rotary International in 1954-55. The Four-Way Test was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has been translated into more than one hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. In English it reads:
The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The test has been translated into more than 100 languages, and Rotarians recite it at club meetings:
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?