Honesty and Integrity Shouldn’t be Optional
By Vanessa Richardson
A dejected mother comes in to meet with her son’s high school teacher because her son had been caught cheating on an end-of-course exam during his senior of high school. She was crushed, feeling like she had failed and concerned this would become a pattern for his adult life, and he would have the reputation as being dishonest.
“This is the worst thing that could have happened, getting caught cheating” said the mother.
“It is not,” said the teacher, “the worst thing would have been for him to have cheated and never been caught.”
Every time dishonesty wins, it becomes that much more difficult to convince out children that honesty is best. Complete honestly even in the little things are not really that little in the long run.
Honesty, integrity, values, morals and ethics are really all the same thing. They are not interchangeable and they all convey the same thing – can this organization, business or individual be trusted?
We live in a time where tales of corruption at the highest levels are a daily occurrence. It makes it that much harder to convince our children that there is consequence to living a duplicitous life when public figures not only circumvent consequences but seem to boast about it and receive public praise. Yes, life can be extremely competitive and observe this hyper-rivalry when parents go to such lengths as fraudulently submitting applications for their children to the top colleges.
Our challenge retaining and practicing what we all know to be true – there is really no such thing as “business ethics” – only ethics. There are also no situational ethics. We cannot rationalize choices with relativism. Our codes do not have to be long, complex, or cumbersome. It should be very simple. If honestly is standing in the way of something, we should change our direction.
Integrated People Solutions is an executive placement firm in Denver, Colorado, and is part of the Kennedy Executive Network
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