Integrity. If you ask anyone, odds are that they’ll say integrity is important to them, but they may not be able or want to explain how or why. At EMPIST, we strongly value integrity in business and transparency in our company culture and in our customer relationships. We’ve all heard the word before, but outside of our own inferences, what does it really mean? More specifically, what does integrity in business mean?
Integrity is defined as an adherence to moral and ethical principles and being of sound character. Applying this definition to business can be as seamless as applying it in everyday life, but it is not always the easiest asset to maintain. No matter what industry you’re in, integrity is among one of the most important things to have at a business.
Integrity in business is exemplified most in a company’s culture, and a culture is subsequently a large part of what makes a business successful. As important as integrity is in a B2C relationship, it is equally as important to have integrity between employers and employees. A company needs a solid leader and employees that not only coexist will but connect well on a personal level as well as a professional one. A business that communicates effectively within house will create a foundation of trust that will also extend to customers.
At the root of integrity in business is trust. A business has to be able to deliver on promises made within their business regarding operations and (in EMPIST’s case) to their customers regarding IT services and much more. Not only deliver, but deliver responsibly, fairly and respectfully or in other words, with integrity. The absence of trust will mean the absence of integrity. In that scenario, customers will start to dissipate, and so might your business reputation.
Integrity plays a huge role in your business’s reputation. It is not enough for a business to care about what the public thinks of them when things aren’t going as well as they could be. Integrity means caring all of the time, in good times and bad. Integrity is not a tool that can be used to fix a bad situation, it is and should be a constant in place at your business to ensure that your reputation is only a good one.
EMPIST makes sure our customers know that we are a company with integrity that they can trust, and we very much value the importance of constantly making a positive impact not just with digital, cloud, or IT services but in the world in general. A business that cares is a business with integrity, but fortunately for the consumer, we aren’t the only business that cares.
Every year since 2007, The Ethisphere Institute— a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices– releases a list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies after careful evaluation. Among the 135 companies being honored in 2018, a couple are Microsoft, PepsiCo, and Marriott. PepsiCo credited their longstanding commitment to engagement, transparency and a high ethical conduct code to their business success. Marriott stands firm on how in their business, integrity is everything, and how they reinforce their integrity-focused core values regularly.
So what does reality look like for a business in the absence of integrity? While the phrase “nobody’s perfect” is certainly a true one, there are mistakes and there are choices. When choices made by businesses lack integrity and transparency, the results tend to speak for themselves and speak directly to the consumer.
Companies like Uber and Slice Intelligence are learning this the hard way. A poor decision to use an email management program called Unroll.me to exploit and sell customer data to get a leg up on their competition ended up backfiring in a very public way. It is much easier to lose integrity than it is to regain and maintain it, something these companies may have considered earlier. It’s far more wise to go the ethical route, like in the case of Marriott or PepsiCo, and firmly establish integrity and transparency as a core value to work by.
Not only is integrity a good business practice for the company soul, it’s also good for business in a financial sense. A company led by a CEO with good morals and ethics is said to be a more profitable route for businesses. A study conducted by leadership consulting firm KRW International showed a connection between the integrity of a CEO and business performance.
One voice of the study, president and CEO of aerospace and defense firm Lockheed Martin Marillyn Hewson, noted in a personal LinkedIn post that a leader will be able to build trust by demonstrating a commitment to integrity and values while also being transparent about all business strategies. She and other CEOs recognize the great importance of integrity in business, and your business can be the next to do this too.
In the same way that we learned good behaviors from our parents as children, businesses can learn from each other’s successes and failures. By looking at companies like EMPIST or PepsiCo or Marriott to start, your business can learn how good and prosperous life can be with integrity at the helm, and what the potential fallout could be like in the absence of good ethics and values from Uber and Slice Intelligence.
By being a company that upholds integrity and practices transparency, you can raise the bar for other businesses and start a chain reaction of integrity to benefit business owners and consumers alike.