Integrity... it's not a word we often hear in everyday conversation. Having integrity means following moral or ethical principles, or in short, doing what's right. What is considered to be right or wrong might vary a bit from person to person, be most of us share these common fundamental beliefs... stealing is wrong... lying is wrong... cheating is wrong. Unfortunately, in today's world, people often seem to be more concerned with not gettung caught than with not doing something wrong to begin with! Oprah said it well... "Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did or not."
When my son was in grade school, his sister began her first summer job working at a fast-food restaurant. She kept the change she received as tip money in a clear jar on her dresser. My son is in his thirties now. A few years ago at a family gathering he confessed that the lure of that spending money had proven too much for him, and he would from time to time "borrow" a little change from the jar, taking care to arrange quarters along the sides of the jar to make it appear there were more inside than actually were. We all had a good laugh over it. The point is, although no one knew it, he wasn't acting with integrity. Guilt eventually caught up with him, so he confessed his crime. :-)
Translate that to the working world. How often have you worked with employees who didn't just bend the rules a bit, but smashed them into pieces with no regard to right or wrong, and yet they were seldom caught or reprimanded? I was raised "old school" - meaning that I was taught to do the right thing regardless. I've never outgrown that (though I have to admit I've struggled with it a few times in life). It's hard for me to see company policies blatantly ignored, assets pilfered, and time wasted. Is stealing time, stealing a company's money? To my way of thinking it is. This leaves one in the difficult position of minding their own business or become known among their coworkers as an informer. Is it ethical to remain quiet when you know something unethical is happening?
Taking this concept one step further, what about the business owners and managers themselves. My husband and I once found ourselves waiting over two hours for a delayed air flight in Denver on New Year's Day, going home for my father's funeral. We learned later that the flight was not delayed for weather or mechanical reasons, but because the flight crew had been out partying on New Year's Eve, and didn't get up and in to work on schedule. Had I known our plane was being piloted by folks with hangovers I would have been concerned. Were they acting with integrity? Were they considering the safety and wellbeing of their passengers, as well as doing what was right by their employers?
What about things that go wrong in hospitals (and they do), that staff are aware of but the patient never finds out? What about being kept waiting at an office appointment for nearly an hour, because the person you have an appointment with is busy chatting with her coworkers and is in no big hurry to get back to work? What about promising someone you will address an issue promptly, and then putting said issue to the side for days or weeks, knowing full well this could postpone the resolution of legal issues they are involved in? While it's true that the client will probably never find out you've been slacking while accepting their payment for services, is it acting with integrity? Is it the kind of person you would want to be? You tell me!
Have you ever worked anywhere that everything ran absolutely above board, honestly, fairly, and respectfully regarding management, employees and customers? I would like to believe that it can be done, but in my experience, it's pretty hard to find. Certainly no one is perfect, and every place has it's minor glitches and flaws, but what kind of a world are we creating if we turn our heads and ignore the issue of right and wrong?