One of the current buzz words in the business world is “business ethics” or “corporate ethics”. My assertion is that there is no such thing as business ethics or corporate ethics. The term business ethics implies that there are ethics in the business world and ethics outside the business world, assuming that people act one way at work and a different way at home. This is nonsense. When it comes to ethics, a person or organization either has them or they don’t. It is not compartmentalized into different portions of their corporate or personal lives. There are no business ethics, only ethics. These ethics are personified by the Integrity of the individuals who form the business in which they work day-in-and-day-out.
The character trait of Integrity is where the essence of ethics can be found. While I do not disagree with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of Integrity, which can be summarized as a quality that is incorruptible, sound, or complete; I do not believe this definition goes far enough. Integrity is inseparable from the very character of the individuals who comprise every business with no regard for type. Integrity is not a quality that someone has; it is a quality that someone is. Integrity is the very nature of who we are and what we do day-in-and-day-out, whether it is at work or home. Integrity is not a marketing campaign or a catchy slogan meant to garner comfort from our clients, stakeholders, or strategic partners; it is the essence of who we are. I believe Integrity is exemplified in the following ways:
Integrity is being Trustworthy.
Integrity demands a trustworthiness in all that we do. Our efforts are to result in dependable, reliable processes and outcomes. When Integrity is exemplified, consistent results are created produced and delivered. Integrity creates strength and structure in the individual and in the firm.
Integrity is having Open and Honest dialog.
Integrity necessitates the need for open and honest discussions in every facet of our day. Our intentions must be clear; confusing situations are removed through transparent exploration together. Integrity gives rise to the highest level of collaboration which unites all stakeholders in the same process. Integrity creates kinship and empathy in the individual and in the firm.
Integrity is being Candid, Authentic and Straightforward.
Integrity fosters the highest level of listening to and understanding of others; prompting honest communication without presumption. It is following through with promised intention, which builds confidence in everyone you come in contact with. Integrity creates mutual trust and loyalty in the individual and in the firm.
The very fabric of who we are as individuals becomes the essence of the organization in which we work every day. I am sorry, “business ethics” is a misnomer; it is simply ethics; it is our Integrity. A supremely simple concept, yet the very corner stone of who each of us is in our personal and corporate lives.