Business Integrity: What it is and Why it’s Important

One of the biggest stories in South Africa at the moment is the Australian cricket team’s cheating scandal in the third test against South Africa. What went wrong here? Steve Smith and his team wanted to win at all costs and it has ended up costing them dearly. This incident had us thinking about business integrity and why it’s still important.

Industry leader Brian Tracy posits that honesty and integrity are the foundations of leadership. He quotes multibillionaire Jon Huntsman, Sr to illustrate his point: “There are, basically, three kinds of people: the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.” That tells us here at Human Communications that business integrity starts at the top, with Executive Management.

Let’s look at Freud’s reality principle: the ability of the mind to assess the reality of the external world, and to act upon it accordingly. In business, this is the point where legal principle and human ambition intersect. Business integrity relies on keeping within the tenets of the law – eschewing dangerous ambitions. Don’t get us wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ambition – on the contrary. It just shouldn’t blind you.

To your clients, what does business integrity mean? In a word: Trust. We all know this is something that is earned. How do you build it up? Start by being honest and truthful with your clients – even when the truth is ugly. In today’s plugged-in society, people can look up anything they want about your company. As our COO, Tyron Oosthuizen likes to say: “What happens in the dark, will always come into the light.” Couldn’t agree more, Tyron!

Business integrity doesn’t rely on short-cuts. That will take you into dangerous territory. Put in the work; the blood, sweat and tears; and you will get there. Make sure you always meet your commitments.

Business integrity from management will initiate a trickle-down effect to lower tiers, especially if it’s made clear that they are doing the right thing, simply because it’s the right thing to do. Treating your team with the respect they deserve will result in them emulating your principles. Remember, businesses are judged by the quality of all their people.

Here at Human Communications, we can’t wait for the fourth test to start. It will be very hard for the Aussies to claw back respect. Don’t let this happen to you: Business integrity (and the lack of it) can make or break a brand.