One of the biggest things a company can do is to emphasize integrity. Integrity in a company needs to be emphasized from the top down. If you are a middle level manager, you need to emphasize it from your level down. The higher you go the further integrity will grow within the organization.
We have seen that companies that have emphasized integrity and doing the right thing grow and prosper.
In 1982, Johnson and Johnson had a problem that was no fault of their own. Someone managed to lace Tylenol with cyanide. This resulted in the deaths of five people. Johnson and Johnson acted quickly. They pulled the tainted lot from the shelves of stores across the country. Later, they pulled all Tylenol from the market. They did not have to do this.
The result was that Tylenol came back stronger than ever.
In his book Jack: Straight from the Gut, Jack Welch emphasizes that integrity was stressed at GE. Whereas this might have been true at General Electric during Jack’s reign, it might not be true today. Allegations have been made that NBC, which is owned by GE, may have actively promoted the Obama presidency while burying certain news stories that would have shed a bad light on the president. It is alleged that GE has won certain government contracts and gotten certain favorable rulings from the justice department and courts because of this. If these allegations are true, then GE is no longer a company that has integrity. If, however, they are just rumors, then perhaps integrity is still in place at GE.
Integrity is a top-down phenomenon. When the lower levels of the company know that a company not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk, they are more prone to do so themselves.
If a company wishes for line-level employees to treat customers with respect and to always do what is right, the top level officials need to show, not only by words but also by their actions, that they are honest in all their dealings.
I don’t recall who said it but I have heard a quote that said, in effect, whenever faced with a decision let this be your guide: If you woke up tomorrow and found that the front page of the newspaper was reporting what you decided and what action you took, would you be able to walk out your door with your head held high? If the answer is yes, it is the right decision. If not, keep working on it.
The opinions or advice listed in this blog or website should be used as a place to start only. It is not a substitute for the use of a professional.
Please be sure to consult your attorney and/or accountant with any specific questions.
There is no one right answer to any business question that will cover all circumstances.
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