What is intentional integrity? And how can it lead to a revolution within your organization?
Even before the pandemic of 2020, ethics and integrity were a significant issue in our business world. Of course, everyone — and every company — thinks they have integrity. Yet week after week, organizations like Boeing, Wells Fargo, and Hobby Lobby fail to live up to their values. Google, Facebook, and the Houston Astros are no different.
For many of us, the confusion sparked by the pandemic — combined with the politicization of the virus itself — made it seem as though integrity was in even shorter supply. Add the lack of face-to-face contact, loosened controls, and the ongoing negative input from 24-hour news cycles, and many have begun to feel the time is ripe for integrity to take a nosedive. In fact, according to a 2020 survey conducted by EY, 90% of employees believe the pandemic puts their employer at risk for unethical business dealings.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. I firmly believe the brands and leaders who conduct themselves using intentional integrity do so for the organization’s greater good, including its employees. I also maintain those companies will revolutionize how businesses function in our post-pandemic world.
Integrity will always matter. Intentional integrity makes all the difference.
Our Guest: Rob Chesnut, Author
In this week’s episode, Rob Chesnut, author of Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution, joined us on #workTrends. We talked about the concept of intentional integrity — and what that means within an organization. As you’ll hear, we talked to the right guy: Rob previously served as Airbnb’s General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer and led eBay’s North America legal team.
Right off the bat, Rob helped us understand why integrity seems to be in short supply: “Look, everybody’s got a video camera, right in their hand, every day. When I was growing up, there were three news stations. Now, we all have a global digital platform; we can all be a news reporter. So we are in an age of unprecedented transparency. Plus, people increasingly feel empowered to speak out.”
As Rob said, all that is true in the workplace as well: “20 years ago, employees might have kept their mouth shut because they wanted to preserve their career. But now, if they don’t like something at their company, they’re going to blog and tweet about it. To take action, they might even organize a walk-out of other employees.” Rob added: “All these forces: Transparency, employee pressure, consumer pressure, and government pressure are pushing companies to straighten up. They are now more focused on doing the right thing. Of course, this is a huge improvement over cutting ethical corners to try to hit a quarterly profit number.”
And that, my friends — even when perhaps initially forced — is intentional integrity.
Intentional Integrity: A Powerful Wind at Your Back
Of course, I asked Rob about the bigger picture implications for companies that don’t directly address integrity daily or make integrity a core value. Rob’s response was enlightening:
“On one hand, if you don’t pay attention to it and you operate with a 20th-century company approach — worrying about your quarter profit number, for example — you can wreck your brand. Soon, you may find employees, customers, and even government agencies coming at you. On the other hand, intentional integrity can become a powerful wind at your back. Get this right, and employees will stay at your company longer. Perhaps even better, they’ll encourage their friends to come work there. At the same time, customers will become loyal spokespeople for your brand.”
Rob added: “The pressure is on. Today’s businesses must have positive implications for the world. Those that do out-perform the stock market and their competitors.”
In my time with Rob, we also talked about the pandemic’s impact on ethics and integrity. We also discussed how the workplace is continuously changing, but our definition of integrity does not, and how intentional integrity helps us overcome the mistakes inevitably made.
Listen in. Then take a moment to think about how your company currently leverages intentional integrity. And how you — thanks to Rob’s timely advice — can do even better, and very soon!