What Does Integrity in Business Mean?

What Does Integrity in Business Mean?

This week the concept of integrity in business came up for me. The call was from a concerned Tiny Home on wheels purchaser. I won’t go into a lot of details, but it struck me that not all businesses practice integrity and don’t always “do the right thing” in business. Integrity is the act of behaving in an ethical, moral, honest and honorable way – even when you know no one is watching.

But, what does Integrity in Business mean to you? Why is it important? Any company can put words on paper and talk about what their values are. But if people aren’t living business integrity in everything they do, it won’t really matter. It’s important for businesses and their employees alike. 

Integrity Crossroad Sign

Ethics is the twin of integrity – business ethics are the code of morals adopted by an organization representing the values the company runs on. Every stakeholder who interacts with the organization — including clients, customers, suppliers, employees and shareholders — will be affected by these morals. That’s why it’s so important for a business to have clear ethical standards.

Of course, having the standards in place is only part of the story — it’s the easy part.
Every single weekday morning, the NOAH team meets to review what we’ll be working on that day, but first and foremost we read a “Cultural Commitment” for that week and there are twenty.  Our cultural commitment for this week was “Do the Right Thing, Always”.  I’m so proud of the company I work for and represent.  

Honesty.  Honesty and Integrity go hand in hand in business. Make the commitment and do what you what you say you will do. Be transparent about shortcomings, stay accountable and own up to any mistakes. Being honest and up front is always best.

Honesty Quote

Owning Up To Mistakes. Being able to say “I messed up” and correcting a situation immediately is best for all parties involved. Covering up your wrongdoings could make you seem untrustworthy. Admitting your mistakes and taking responsibility shows integrity.  Not everyone is perfect all of the time, but it is better to demonstrate your ability to own up rather than passing the blame or trying to cover something up.

Trust. Customers and clients want to do business with a company that is trustworthy. When trust is at the core of a company, it is easy to recognize. People know they can rely on the character, ability and value provided, and they feel valued in every interaction. We also have our Core Values posted on our website with my favorite being “Trust: Trusting Each Other”. Our Core Values are on our website and we practice them daily NOAH RDI | noahs story (noahcertified.org) To be honest, I also have a fondness for Enjoy: Enjoying the Journey.  

Core Values

Quality. A dedication to high quality standards across the board shows that the company is committed to standing behind what it does and delivering the value it promises. Companies that regularly put out shoddy work or provide inconsistent service are telling customers and would-be customers that they really don’t care about them.

Follow-through. Trust is built on follow-through, on meeting your obligations and commitments as promised. Follow-through also means being transparent about potential problems that might affect the timing or the end-result. It may not be the best outcome, but you can salvage the relationship by being upfront and honest. Being honest and telling the truth about whatever it may be, is always the best choice. 

Respect. Regardless of titles, ages, gender, race, positions or any other differences, everyone should be treated with respect. This goes for employees as well as the public at large.

Responsibility. Demonstrating responsibility is very much aligned with trust. If you are responsible, live up to it. You are a steward, entrusted with looking after something. Use care and foresight; not mindlessly carrying out a task. Being responsible demonstrates awareness and caring of those around you — most particularly your stakeholders.

Make sure your team is living up to your business standards and commitments. While there’s no way to be 100 percent sure about what a person is made of, there are ways to improve your screening process. 

Ask about Ethics. When you post your help wanted announcement, make it clear that you are looking for someone with integrity. You can also let employees know at the outset of the interview that their on-the-job performance will be evaluated, in part, on how ethical they are. This may be enough to scare off some people who don’t have a strong commitment to honesty and integrity. But it’s important to ensure you’re hiring someone that will hold up the standards you’ve established.
Target ethics in your interview. Before you interview, plan your questions strategically so that you can target the ethical standards that you care about. For example, you can ask candidates about an ethical dilemma that they have been faced with and how they resolved it. If they can’t think of one, consider giving them a scenario and ask how they would react. For example, you could ask, “What would you do if you saw another employee repeatedly cutting out of work when they were still on the clock?” or “How would you react if a manager asked you to falsify customer feedback reports?” Hiring a person with good ethics means they will be practice integrity and honesty. 

Moral conduct can be contagious. If your core employees advocate a high degree of honesty and integrity, they can motivate others to do the same. It takes a little more time and effort to find candidates with rock-solid integrity, but when you do, it can raise the bar for ethical behavior company-wide.

At the beginning of this article, I asked what does Integrity in Business mean to you? To me, it means keeping your promises, being honest, responsible, help others, always show respect to others, always do what is best for the customer, not yourself or your bottom line. All that you do business with will appreciate it and it will get you further in business than the alternative.

Integrity on Paper