Pages

Integrity


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?

6 comments:

  1. No. Just as there is no perfect person, or family, there is no perfect workplace. We can only do what our own conscience and heart tells us to do.
    Unfortunately, people justify their actions and allow themselves to do things we feel are morally wrong. By justifying it, they believe they are right. Some are actually convinced they are right and the better person, even having integrity. The sad thing is that this doesn't mean they do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes Annie, I hear those justifications all the time - "I deserve..." "if they..." "I'm not paid enough to..." It almost always boils down to "me" statements. When we reach the point of realizing life is not all about "me", that there are others in the world besides us and our choices and actions impact their lives too, then maybe we are able to look at "right and wrong" in a new perspective.

      Delete
  2. This post of yours, Josie, relates to what I think is most important in living our lives with others. And it’s true, that watching unethical behavior on the part of others can be frustrating and disappointing. But in my opinion, what is most important, is that we live our own lives with integrity. We are not god’s policemen. If the values of the society around us do not reflect our personal ethics, we should remain committed to what we believe in, even if everyone else thinks we are crazy. That doesn’t mean telling tales on others. But it does mean refusing to take part in anything that goes against our beliefs. I had a successful company, with employees, customers, and suppliers for over 30 years, and fortunately, through all that time, I never real problem with moral behavior. I only received two bad checks in all that time. And I accept checks to this day. I used to choose suppliers, not according to who was cheapest… but who was most trustworthy. I once sat with my accountant and checked it out. We saw that I could be paying at least ten percent less for my supplies. But I told him, I prefer to pay 10% more, knowing that everyone I have business with is someone I can trust 100%.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "If the values of the society around us do not reflect our personal ethics, we should remain committed to what we believe in, even if everyone else thinks we are crazy." - An excellent thought, Shimon, that I am going to print out and tape to my desk and mirror! :-) I think you hit on the critical point in business relationships, and personal ones also... trust! If we have that all else falls into place. THank you for your thoughtful comment!

      Delete
  3. I always have things weigh heavy on my heart that I can't allow myself to get the it is owed to me attitude now of us are owed we have to work for it and work for it honestly. I worked in the in-patient pharmacy at a hospital and they had a camera in the section of the strong drugs, I was told if you come to work knowing your are being filmed while here it will give no room for stealing or mistakes I had no problems with it others did, my morals were we should do our jobs right as if we were always being watched that way there is no room for I might be able to get away with it I am starter etc... camera doesn't lie and neither should we!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THat's the way I believe too Janice, no one "owes us", in fact I think the reverse is true... it is us who owes the world our contribution, our caring, and our integrity! I have also worked where staff were videoed, as does my husband now. While it reduces some unethical behavior, others find ways to get around it, there will always be some of that kind. But they have to live with themselves, and also worrying about getting caught.

      Delete

Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)