March 29, 2010
Ethics is a system of moral values; it is the study of choices people make regarding right and wrong. Integrity is the adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty, demonstrating consistency between ethical principle and ethical practice. Integrity is a measure of character. In most organizations, there is some type form of core values in place or some type of code of ethics that the employees understand and accept. In the Marine Corps, the core values that we practice are; honor, courage, commitment. However, there are a lot of people in today’s society believe that they have compromise their integrity in order to get ahead in life. Integrity in the workplace relates to employee commitment and loyalty. It is the leadership in the workplace that ensure that its employees are presented with values, policies, labor practices, fairness, honesty etc. and to make sure it begins dealing with them. According to a nationwide study tracking integrity in the workplace, the results are mixed, and indicate a number of challenges to business leaders. Half of American working adults believe their senior executives are people of high integrity. The other half feels that integrity policies have been well communicated in their workplaces or that there is little pressure to cut corners on ethics/compliance issues (Walker information Inc. 2010).
I’ve been in the military for nearly 15 years now and I can recall a few instances where a Marines ethical integrity has been compromised in order to get ahead in their career. I don’t know of anyone personally that have put themselves in that situation. “Public Administration employees, including federal, state, and local government employees, are among the most negative about ethics in their workplace. Only twenty-seven in the government were comfortable reporting misconduct, compared with forty percent in Health Services, forty-one percent in Retail Trade, and thirty-nine percent in Financial Services.” (The Hudson Institute, 1999) When a person has integrity, their actions match his words. Based on employee awareness today, most industries or organizations face more ethical challenges than others do. One reason that I find we scuffle with preserving our integrity in the workplace is that we misunderstand our primary purpose for working. Most people would say that they work to earn a living, because they enjoy it, or so they can afford the “nicer things” in life. Three steps to determine real integrity according to Stephen L. Carter provided in the Atlantic Monthly essay are, use principles to discern what is right and wrong, act on what has been discerned to be right, even at personal or business cost, and lastly say openly that you are acting on what you understand to be right versus wrong. We also have to look at our own personal integrity regarding our conduct and behavior in the workplace. Some questions that we need to ask ourselves are, do you arrive on time? Can you be counted on? Do you socialize too much at work? Are you on the phone, making personal phone calls? Are you surfing the internet, and going to websites that are unauthorized? Are the finances for which you are given responsibility handled according to the rules? These questions should be taken into consideration regarding the importance of integrity. There is one case in which the former Johnson & Johnson CEO James Burke demonstrated his integrity when he put the interests of consumers ahead of company profit. “In 1982 after seven people in the Chicago area died after ingesting cyanide-laced Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules, Burke pulled all forms of Tylenol from every store in the country. Although the cost to the company was one hundred million dollars, Burke recognized that the public’s trust was more important.” (Scribbler’s Ink, 2005)
The wave of white-collar scandals shook...