Corporate Integrity, Professional Ethics and Conduct

The purpose of codes, rules or laws is to ensure there is a level of consistent behavior across a profession regardless of personal values.

This enhances corporate integrity which can be sustained through the use of professional ethics and conduct.

Corporate integrity is the degree to which a corporate and its office bearers consistently adhere to a code of ethics and to established laws and professional ethics are rules governing the conduct, transactions and relationships within a profession and among its publics.

People today simply do not believe that they can trust what they hear and read. They feel corporations are benefiting from a system that fails to ensure honesty, accountability, and integrity.

Critics from outside the corporate world have long attacked corporations as being amoral and greedy, routinely placing their own growth and success ahead of any concept of public responsibility.

Some companies lack corporate integrity because of incompetent boards and/or management which are ineffective, who disregard their professional code of conduct. 

Lack of resources and interest may result in professionals engaging in unethical or unprofessional conduct to fulfill conditions of their obligations. 

Corporate integrity can be enhanced by articulating integrity standards and expectations through a company code or board charter that promotes corporate integrity.

New systems can be developed to define and control corporate integrity at the same time strengthening the existing ones by revisiting the company code, policies and procedures to assess whether they are any inconsistencies in the code.

People expect companies to have values, to act according to their values consistently and to make the right choices where the public good is at odds with corporate self-interest.

A climate of high corporate integrity can be developed through high leadership practices that include directness, openness and involvement. 

Leaders should take responsibility and also ask advice and input even if it disagrees with their judgment, this enables them to learn more from their colleagues.  

Professional ethics can be achieved by being true to oneself, being able to be proud to share one’s decisions or actions with colleagues and having them reported in the news.

Challenges that hinder professional ethics arise when illegal ways of doing business become generally accepted due to frequency.

When faced with a crisis, one should verify ethical concerns on that issue and also ask other people’s opinions on that issue so as to maintain corporate integrity.

High levels of corporate integrity will add significant value to the corporation both by avoiding costs and, more importantly, by avoiding damaging losses of brand equity, reputation and marketplace influence.

Author: Debra Nhokwara

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