“Integrity can be a superpower that inspires employees and resonates with today’s values-minded consumers. And integrity is contagious. Create an environment in which it is openly embraced by leadership and woven into the fabric of your culture, and it will be a powerful asset.”
— Robert Chestnut, General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer, Airbnb
According to a survey by LRN, 82% of respondents said they would prefer to be paid less and work for a company with ethical business practices than receive higher pay at a company with questionable ethics. Organizational integrity matters—to employees, stakeholders, and customers. But integrity cannot be injected into an organization by traditional training alone. Instead, organizations must weave it into the cultural fiber from the start. Integrity is a great asset that organizations must fiercely protect because once you’ve lost it, it’s nearly impossible to get back.
We are in the midst of an ethical revolution. Leaders are increasingly being held accountable for poor behavior, and companies are pushed by employees, governments, and customers to step up and adopt a multi-stakeholder ethical approach that serves social purposes as well as ethical demands. As a result, leaders must focus on more than just financial results. Canned codes of ethics that only check the box might be what is required to comply with the law, but they don’t move the needle. Learn six practices to help leaders be proactive, inspire their employees, and stay ahead of the ethical revolution.
There are dozens of high-profile examples of companies—and leaders—who have lied, cheated, and stolen in recent years, including Wells Fargo, Boeing, Volkswagen, Uber, and Theranos, to name a few. It seems that organizational integrity has not gotten better in the last few decades. It’s gotten worse. Employees continue to quit jobs at companies that behave unethically, tolerate toxic bosses and colleagues, and don’t pay employees fairly. According to a study, 94% of respondents said it is “critical” or “important” that the company they work for is ethical. When leaders tolerate unethical behavior, they can’t go back. You don’t get do-overs—you can only lose your integrity once.
The momentum around environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors is rapidly evolving as ESG frameworks continue to grow in influence and impact. However, there is increasing recognition that the ESG revolution must more meaningfully consider sustainable governance—the “G” in ESG—and corporate integrity. Behind each company’s environmental or social commitment breach lies ineffective corporate governance. Therefore, corporate governance grounded in transparency, accountability, and integrity must be a prerequisite for achieving the entire spectrum of ESG goals. Learn three recommendations to factor corporate integrity into investment decision-making processes.