They Underestimate Integrity

America and Integrity
Integrity is defined as adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty or the state of being whole and undiminished. It is an underlying principal required since the founding of Americaand remains our lifeblood. It generates the world’s expectation of an industry leader, an incubator for innovation, and center of respect. Who are we without integrity?

Crisis and The Lack of Integrity
The recent financial crisis is most unusual in that markets, such as real estate, previously thought to be stable, fell for the first time. Also, a fully interdependent global economy means an extensive global impact. This is perhaps the most embarrassing crisis in recent history as executive after executive reveals a lack of standards, a lack of morals, a lack of forethought, a lack of competence, or a lack of concern as one of the major reasons for the role that they or their company played in the system failure.
SEE: Have An Objective

Integrity is one of those things that make our country desirable. In a free world, you worship as you please and move about at will; however, there are ground rules: we have morals and they are upheld. Without the promise to uphold our agreed upon morals society disintegrates into barbarism. And so we find a pattern of loopholes that were taken advantage of as opposed to closed or avoided. For example: the highly-regulated banking industry agrees not to misinform the public and to deal fairly when lending; so non-regulated mortgage brokers did the dirty work, mis-informing borrowers, lending beyond the borrower’s repayment capacity, and creating unsound mortgages. What happened to the promise? Let’s not forget the derivatives brokers who had not taken responsibility to consider or to monitor the risks of each underlying instrument and the potential interactive risks created by a derivative instrument. Where was the standard to be upheld?
SEE: Culture Lessons Being Ignored

Culture and Integrity
Despite our differences, as a consumer we generally agree that we want a fair representation of the politician, the product, or the service that we are buying into. It is our right-to-know and we are given the option to say no. If we expect this in our personal lives then why does this not necessarily translate to our work lives? The moral is: do unto others as you wish done unto you. Religion is an option; moral behavior is not.

As Greg Smith, former employee of Goldman Sachs explains:

“It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization.”

Somewhere along the line integrity was lost. For a civilized culture to persist integrity must be sustained.

About the Author

Maisha Smart, MBA founded Finance and Marketing to help small businesses excel, by bridging the gap between finance and marketing processes. Some of her favorite activities include fine arts, a good debate, and social engagement.

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