Diversity and Inclusion Aren’t Just the Right Things to Do, They are the Smart Things to Do

“Most people are sardines and they want to survive. They want to do what the powerful people are doing. We (Rotary) are the salmon. We’re going upstream. We’re pushing against the world that was given to us.”


I was so impressed by Todd “Bowtie” Jenkins that I’m double posting today. It’s so important to highlight the people who are choosing to do good in this world. I hope you’ll check him out. This post is also on my Facebook page.

NIAGARA, CANADA – Dynamic motivational speaker and inclusion expert, Rotarian Todd “Bowtie” Jenkins addressed the final day of Rotary International leaders from Canada, the United States, Bermuda, India, and Germany on Saturday. 

The Rotarians spent their last few days of leadership training creating ways to grow their 1.2-million strong global service organization, which focuses on leaders taking action to make their local and global communities healthier, more peaceful, and stronger. 

Leaders stressed that this might seem like a massive task, and it is, but for the organization that has led the charge towards almost completely eradicated polio across the world, nothing is beyond what it can do. 

Rotary is a global organization with clubs across multiple continents connecting the world and innovators. Rotarians like Jenkins want to increase membership and inclusion to make it even stronger. His talk with Rotarians on Saturday morning focused on the power of diversity and inclusion in Rotary. 

The Same Sized Shoe Doesn’t Fit Everyone

“There is a difference in inclusion when you talk about equity and equality,” Jenkins said. To explain inclusion and equity, he used the example of giving everyone a size 10.5 shoe, which would fit him, but wouldn’t fit everyone in the conference room of over 200 Rotarians. If he gave some people that shoe, it would be too small. For some, it would be too big. 

“Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits them,” Jenkins said, rather than just everybody the same size shoe or Rotary club experience. To do that you have to interact and ask what they need, what kind of shoe they like, or what size they wear.

In an organization like Rotary, Jenkins said, if you give everyone the same shoe or experience or duties, it might not fit them and they might show up to every experience club event or meeting uncomfortable. 

He said, “Everyone does not show up to our clubs with the same access to social capital that we have.” 

Diversity and Inclusion are More Than Just the Right Things To Do

After his keynote speech, Rotarians had the opportunity to engage in facilitated break-out sessions where they brainstormed ways to bring diversity and inclusion into the realms of membership, service projects, and public image. 

“Diversity and inclusion is bigger than the right thing to do. It’s a business case. If we build a stronger and more innovative experience for the global world,” Jenkins said, “everyone wins. If we get this right, we will all win. So many people hear ‘diversity’ and they think of everyone but them.” 

Diversity, he said, includes all demographics.

“A key is to have a dialogue together. Inclusion is everyone. It’s about how to leverage those differences to create equity and do our mission for Rotary,” he said. Jenkins’ own life experience as one of thirteen kids was broadened by Rotary International’s New Generations Exchange, which sent him to Brazil during his young adult years. 

Hope for the Hopeless

Jenkins said, “There is hope for the hopeless because of volunteers like you.” 

Rotary International has a new directive, which is that “each club shall endeavor to build a well-balanced membership that celebrates diversity.” The board of Rotary International wants to have 30 percent of Rotarians be women and for those women to be leaders by 2023. 

“To understand where we’re going, we have to understand where we’re at,” Jenkins said. “We have to be reflective of the people we’re serving.” 

Innovation is what happens when you have inclusion, he stressed. Inclusion begins with the individual Rotarians. 

“We receive every 11 million bits of information every moment. We can only consciously process 40. Our unconsciousness drives our behaviors every day. Sometimes we don’t know when we’re biased because it’s unconscious bias. It’s implicit,” Jenkins said. 

Mindsets are the hardest things to change. People might not know your background. They see how you behave. “It’s not easy to change.”

Being the Salmon

Jenkins said, “Most people are sardines and they want to survive. They want to do what the powerful people are doing. We (Rotary) are the salmon. We’re going upstream. We’re pushing against the world that was given to us.” 

“You have to have an open mind and open heart. You have to have care and compassion. You might not always have empathy, but you can have compassion,” Jenkins said. 

“We have the power to make change,” Tracey Vavarek, a Rotary district governor said. “It starts with me. Make the pledge. We are the salmon.”

Where to Find Todd

Email: bowtietoddspeaks@gmail.com

Facebook: @bowtietoddjenkins

Instagram: dr.bowtietodd

Twitter: bowtietodd

Where to Find More About Rotary and your closest club

Rotary is all over social media, but the best place to find out more is its website.

Where to find out more about me?

Right here, but also here and more about my nonfiction stories here.

Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: