Have you thought of ways how integrity can be demonstrated in company culture?
Raise your hand if you have experienced any of these integrity issues?
- You don’t agree on the recommendation for promotion of an employee who is competent but with character issue. However, you were outvoted or overruled.
- One of your corporate values is integrity (honesty or trustworthiness or transparency) but you can’t seem to find an indicator to validate such, and you are reluctant to recommend an intervention to institutionalise it because of possible resistance or the officers will be the first to get hit.
Well, you’re not alone, most companies showcase integrity as one of their values in bulletin boards, but that’s how far the integration is to the corporate culture.
This post will attempt to translate this value, according to the framework of some thought leaders. With the hope that a practical, liveable and measurable behaviour can further be developed by HR and Learning and Development executives.
But first, let’s have a common understanding of what integrity is.
Integrity, according to Richard Dortch
“involves everything about the wholeness of our inner person, our heart, mind and will. Integrity simply means singleness: Singleness of our purpose, singleness of our will, singleness of our hearts. There is no dividing of the truth that splits the wholeness of what we are about”. Mr. Dortch further explained that the prevailing duplicity in a person’s professional and private life is a manifestation of an eroding integrity.
Values are supposedly consistent regardless of time, place, culture and environment. The force that restrains us when our superiors are around should also be present even when they are not. Similarly, the restraint to do certain actions in the presence of our family should also be felt when we are alone.
Alright, so from here, let’s see how integrity applies in different context
Integrity In Business Context
One of the top companies in Asia is SM Prime Holdings, INTEGRITY is part of its corporate mantra. Ms. Teresita Sy-Coson, President of SM Mart Inc. and Chair of Banco De Oro, shared the 14 principles of her father. In her speech in a series of Taipan fora sponsored by the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), Ms. Sy-Coson said “the second principle, is about integrity… our father taught us to be fair, credible, trustworthy and to put a lot of weight in commitments and responsibilities”.
Integrity In Leadership
“Leadership by example” is still one of the best approaches in leading the human resource. The story below illustrates this point.
This is a story of Mahatma Gandhi counseling a child for removing a bad habit.
A lady reached Mahatma Gandhi with her 10 yr. old son. She told Gandhi, ” Sir, my son has a bad habit of eating a lot of jaggery ( a special kind of Indian sweets ). I have been telling him to reduce eating jaggery but he does not listen to me. Mahatma ji, the whole nation listens to you and you are a revered personality. I am sure my son too will heed to your advice. Please tell him not to eat too much of jaggery.”Mahatma Gandhi thought for a while and asked the lady to bring her son again after a week.
After a week , the lady again took her son to Mahatma. Mahatma Gandhi put his hand on the head of the boy and told him, “My dear child, don’t eat jaggery too much. It can be harmful”.
The conversation ended.
The bewildered lady asked the Mahatma, “Sir, this was simple. You could have told him the same thing last week itself !! Why you made us come again after a week ?”
Mahatma told the lady,” I myself used to take jaggery till last week. I needed a weeks’ time to quit eating jaggery so that I could counsel your son with conviction”.
The lady bowed in reverence to Mahatma Gandhi and took leave of him.
Integrity In A Person’s Character
Integrity is a strength of character that enables a person to admit failure regardless of what is at stake.
As Samuel Goldwyn, a movie producer said,
“I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everybody around me to tell me the truth, even if it costs them their jobs.”
When job is at stake, we either cover-up for our mistake or that of our colleagues. Survival is more important than the truth. In most cases, people remain silent for fear that his/her own “skeletons” will be revealed. “Peer pressure” is another reason.
Integrity in the Management Team
An organization is built in integrity. An individual with flawed character will not last in good organizations. Likewise, good people will not stay in bad organizations. An excerpt from the article written by Lala Rimando entitled “When Executives Misbehave”in Newsbreak published on August 2, 2004 will prove this point.
Ms. Rimando wrote:
I can’t take it anymore,” Mike, a thirtyish company vice-president, told Newsbreak. For the past years, his boss has been paying off a government official to avoid taxes. The legally mandated amount would have cost them three times more than what they are paying the official. Mike, bothered by his conscience, “Cancer cells.” That’s how Eduardo Roberto, marketing professor at the Asian Institute of Management and fellow of the Social Weather Stations, describes the likes of Mike’s boss.
Roberto is the principal researcher of a study entitled “CEO Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Corporate Misconduct.” The results show that the majority of the 96 chief executive officers (CEOs) and top management officials surveyed considered what was “wrong” in shades of gray, not in black and white terms.
These executives are members of the AIM Alumni Association, American Chamber of Commerce, Financial Executives Association, Management Association of the Philippines, and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“They are the bad cells that contaminate the good cells until the whole body is too sick,” Roberto said during the presentation of the study results… When CEOs distort the meaning of wrong and these cascades down the line, the excellent and honest employees like Mike leave. But more usually, employees tend to adopt the behavior of their superiors.
The cultural rejection of whistle blowing is strong among most senior executives, the study shows. Since executives twist the meaning of wrong to protect their own interests, Roberto said they might be inclined to do the same for their employees who misbehave. In fact, 57 percent of the respondents say it is acceptable to keep quiet about the misconduct of others.
Our ability to lead is eroded without integrity. Our credibility to impose discipline and implement corporate values will be put in question. Character and attitude problems slows down an organization. Time and resources are wasted in the hiring and training of new employees brought by integrity related turnover. Time is also consumed in attending to administrative cases brought by employee dishonesty.
Integrity and Standing Up For What Is Right
Without integrity, transformational leadership is not possible. Without integrity, the organization will lose its ability to correct itself, therefore, losing good employees either by resignation or conformation to the corrupt culture.
Alexander Solzehnitsyn, a novelist, hit the nail when he said:
In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers…we are ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations
Will you be able to use this to come up with integrity initiatives for your company? Feel free to share your thoughts!