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The dictionary definition of integrity is firm adherence to a code of moral values. People with a strong sense of personal integrity can be relied upon to do the right thing and stick to their stated values, even when no-one is watching. People and organizations who demonstrate a high level of integrity are the most trustworthy business partners.
What is Integrity in Business?
Having integrity in business means operating your organization consistently in accordance with a strong set of moral values and while following applicable ethical guidelines.
Integrity can also be defined as “the state of being whole and undivided”. In a business context, this means operating with consistency in interactions at all levels and representing the organization in an honest and consistent way to all stakeholders.
What are Examples of Integrity in Business?
Organizations may demonstrate their business integrity in many ways, including but not limited to the following:
- Being Honest – Organizations who value integrity encourage their employees to be honest in all scenarios, whether communicating with customers, regulators, suppliers, colleagues, or management/leadership teams.
- Being Consistent – Organizations operating with a high level of integrity are consistent in how they address issues. They intentionally avoid conflicts of interest and address biases in decision-making to ensure that rules and guidelines are applied consistently and fairly across the business.
- Meeting Commitments & Obligations – Organizations with a high level of integrity recognize and honor their obligations to customers, employees, regulators, suppliers, and society as a whole. They will do what is required to demonstrate their commitment to effective partnerships and hold up their end of every bargain.
- Acting in Good Faith – Organizations with high integrity act in good faith when dealing with others. They carry out contracts in good faith and for the benefit of both parties.
- Operating as a Meritocracy – Leaders in high-integrity organizations understand that corrupt behaviors like nepotism rob honest employees of earned opportunities, and that ineffectual employees ultimately hurt the business.
- Accepting Accountability – In high-integrity organizations, individuals readily accept accountability for their actions instead of attempting to pass the buck or blame someone else.
Why is Integrity Important in Business?
We can point to many reasons why integrity in business is of the utmost importance:
Business Integrity Builds Trust
When businesses act with integrity, they have the opportunity to build incredible trust and loyalty with the public, their customers, suppliers, industry partners, regulators, shareholders, and other stakeholders in the business. That trust translates into customer confidence and brand loyalty.
Business Integrity Drives Employee Satisfaction & Retention
Employees report higher levels of job satisfaction when they work at organizations and for managers with high levels of integrity. As a result, they’re more likely to stay employed for longer before searching for work elsewhere. Organizations that engage in nepotism are more likely to drive away talented employees who realize that opportunities for advancement are unfairly distributed.
Business Integrity Enables Change & Improvement
Organizations who accept the truth and take responsibility have the capacity to make things better. While a low-integrity business might mislead or deceive customers about a product defect, a high-integrity business would report the defect, take responsibility, and solve the problem – ultimately boosting consumer trust and loyalty.
High Business Integrity Means Enhanced Business Results
High-integrity businesses ultimately understand that they don’t deserve to succeed unless they can genuinely improve the lives of their customers. As a result, they orient their activities towards maximizing value for both shareholders and customers, and delivering a strong product or service that meets customer expectations. This ultimately leads to faster improvement, better customer relations, and stronger business results than businesses that get by on deception.