Integrity in Business?

A common demand that we see in social media is the demand for integrity in business. Integrity is defined as a quality of honesty and ethical or moral behaviour.

We all agree that we need greater ethics and integrity.

We do not all agree on whose ethics or morality is “right”.

I was recently at a Integrity networking event. And I asked the question, “What is this group’s definition of integrity?” One individual answered, “I am attracting smart people who understand the need for integrity in government and business?” So I repeated my question. And this is the next response, “There is none.”

Yet every culture, group or society have a collective of principles or ethics that guide their behaviour. That in itself is the definition of ethics.

So the search continues…where is integrity in business?  I guess that I am just blessed, I see it all the time. The ethics and definition of integrity is defined by the United Nations. These are the Ten Principles:

Human Rights

  • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
  • Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.


  • Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  • Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
  • Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
  • Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.


  • Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
  • Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
  • Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.


  • Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

These are the Ethical Principles of our world. The United Nations is our governing body and these are the principles which we as a globe are chosen to define our collective behaviour.

The UN Global Compact has evolved since the original UN Commission on Sustainability in 1987. The original document was called, Our Common Future, or the Brundtland Commission after its leader, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland. The UN Commission on Sustainability introduced the concept of Sustainable Development as   development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

So we have our integrity, we have our ethics. We need to communicate, educate and practice as global citizens.

Businesses and people must protect human rights.  We must act in a spirit of global brotherhood which means that each individual is kin so that we can not promote ourselves at the expense of another.  We can not profit from the loss of another`s basic human rights. Each individual has the right to security, shelter, food and clean water.

Integrity in all businesses in which I have interacted or researched, this is a living practice.

I have not seen a company that knowingly destroys the earth, causes violence, contaminates food and water sources. The key word here is knowingly. Business is made of people. We have people employed in business who are corrupt and political. They put themselves and their personal agenda ahead of the ethics and culture of the company. We are seeing right now on the global stage as there are factions and countries whose need to control the behaviour of others so that they can be secure within themselves.

My advice to anyone who is facing this situation right now is simple: This too shall pass.

These people and these situations will move on but if you stay stuck in your anger, you will not see all the great people and businesses who are not only following the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, they are forming them and pushing to higher ethical standards.

Is there Integrity in Business? Yes! Do you see it in your circle or sphere of influence? Perhaps not. We each need to take the time to educate ourselves on the definitions and legal requirements of each and every global citizen. And we need to live up to that standard so that we can teach others by our example.

Have a look at Our Common Future, and see where this new and exciting global world began to demand integrity and ethics of ourselves, our businesses and our governments.

Our Common Future

Our Common Future

Yours in Corporate Responsibility,
Cara MacMillan

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