Integrity in Society

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Finding integrity in individuals in society today can be a daunting task. Many people simply do not have the moral fiber of earlier generations. An individual's integrity is truly tested when a weakness is touched. Someone with integrity will certainly feel a sting weak that weakness is exploited, but someone that lacks integrity will exploit weaknesses, whether it is their own weakness, or someone else's weakness, in the interest of personal gain, prestige, or to maintain the status quo. Sometimes, an individual's lack of integrity can make it seem like they are on top of the world. Often, it is due to optimizing damage to the shatter points of the weaknesses of others. Those that lack integrity often put themselves on a pedestal, making it quite easy to be knocked down by the next one to come along. Once they are on that pedestal, most of their energy is spend trying to stay on top, with no focus on what should be their true goal. Those with integrity will work hard to build a career on a solid foundation. Instead of sitting on a pedestal, they have built up walls of integrity on the foundation of hard work and perseverance. Integrity is only forged through adversity, and a lack of integrity is often a sign of someone that would rather find the easy way than the way that is right. Integrity is one element of good character. It crosses the full socio-political spectrum, for without it all other views and values remain useless Stephen Carter calls integrity a pre-political virtue. It comes first in the list of human virtues because it gives meaning to all the rest of what we say and believe (Integrity/Harper Collins/1996/xl).

Social integrity results from individuals of integrity. Following such social viruses as the Enron scandal, educational centers began examining the issues of ethics and values. This revealed a problem that Associated Press called “ubiquity.” Cheating was everywhere, launching red hot dialogue for educators.

Corporate v Individual Integrity
Corporate v Individual Integrity – Any difference?

The integrity of the organisation and the values held by the individual manager may not be the same.

The key issue is this: When does a person follow individual values and when does a person follow corporate values?

When these values are not compatible, a conflict may arise between organisational pressure that impels a particular action and what the individual believes ought or ought not be done.

The typical conflict in such cases involves a manager or employee who holds a higher standard of behaviour than that expected by the organisation. In such situations, the manager may be pushed toward an action that reflects ignoring or lowering personal standards in order to achieve some organisational goal.

These dilemmas produce “moral stress” in the manager because the core values of the organisation, as embodied in the corporate culture, seem to imply a choice different from that which would be selected by the manager based on personal values.

Another real issue occurs when the boss orders you to do something that violates organisational values as well as your own values. One way organisations have addressed this issue is to explicitly develop a “values statement” for the firm.

By identifying major or ‘core’ values  such as respect, integrity and responsibility, the ‘values statements’ are intended to guide the firm when it is faced with ethical quandaries.

Corporations with an organisational climate that causes managers to act contrary to their individual values need to understand the costs of unethical behaviour.

Sometimes managers who choose to follow organisational pressures rather than their own conscience rationalise their decisions by maintaining that they are simply ‘agents’ of the corporation.

In other words, as company agent, the manager assumes the duty to do exactly what the organisation most desires – often translated to mean maximizing return on investment, sales...
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