Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are values which Rotary International Board Director and DEI Taskforce Chair Valarie Wafer has not only spoken about passionately over many years, but has practiced in our own business. In 2021-22 Valarie, who will become Vice President of Rotary's 1.2 million member global network, says DEI aren't just the right values to practice, they are good for business. She will be serving on the RI board with fellow Ontario Rotarian Jennifer James, who in 2022 becomes the first female president in 117 years of Rotary International, considered the world's original service club. Valerie spoke to the Rotary Club of Ladner on April 6, 2021.
 
Valarie Wafer has been a multiple Tim Horton’s restaurant owner for the past 27 years with her husband, fellow Rotarian, Mark. In that business she has been recognized for inclusive hiring practices, particularly employment of people with disabilities. She joined Rotary in 2005 and lives in Thornbury, Ontario, as a member of the Rotary Club of Collingwood South Georgian Bay. Included among her various leadership roles are heading a vocational training team focused on youth suicide and depression, auditing Rotary Foundation grant projects in Tanzania and Kenya, and volunteering during a 2012 National Immunization Day in India. In 2012 Valarie received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her leadership with the Economic Case for Inclusion in Canada, which was an inclusive hiring initiative adopted by provincial and federal governments. 
 
video also available through this link: https://youtu.be/kRJDjF8IoFg  
 
As a global network that strives to build a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change, Rotary values diversity and celebrates the contributions of people of all backgrounds, regardless of their age, ethnicity, race, color, abilities, religion, socioeconomic status, culture, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
 
DIVERSITY: Rotary welcomes people of all backgrounds,  cultures, experiences, and identities.
EQUITY: Rotary strives for the fair treatment, opportunity, and advancement of all Rotary participants.
INCLUSION: Rotary is working to create experiences where all people feel welcomed, respected, and valued.
 
 
A top priority for Rotary is growing and diversifying our membership to make sure we reflect the communities we serve. We're creating an organization that is more open and inclusive, fair to all, builds goodwill, and benefits our communities. We want people with differing perspectives and ideas who will help Rotary take action to create lasting change in communities around the world.
 
 
Valarie's husband, Mark Wafer, described starting out in 1995 with their first Tim Horton's location in Scarborough, Ontario, then the growth of that business over the years. Starting as a "mom and pop style coffee shop" the business developed into "a cutting edge, high tech operation" in the midst of tough competition.
 
He said, "Times change though, change is necessary. We adapt, we change or we die in business. Our operation has grown into a strong and vibrant company with 250 employees representing workers from over 40 countries, every cultural and religious group, sexual orientation and most importantly, those who have a disability."
 
He added, "The single most important decision Valarie and I made ... as Tim Horton's franchise owners was to include people with disabilities in meaningful and competitively paid positions throughout the operation. Our business today is stronger than ever, a direct result of hiring from this largely untapped labour pool of people with skills and education, motivation and work ethic but mostly unemployed only because they have a disability."
 
Valarie and Mark realized over the years that employees with disabilities were bringing more to their business than those without disabilities. They have employed over 120 people in their restaurants with all types of disabilities including deaf, blind, physical, mental health, learning, intellectual, and episodic. Almost 50 of their 250 employees, some in management, have a disability. 
 
Rotary International's position on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion summarized. 40 Rotarians from Ladner Rotary and leaders in Rotary District 5040 attended the presentation by Rotary International Board Director Valerie Wafer.