“The bottom line for business is that integrity is not always good for the bottom line.”
When writing about the virtues of integrity, a huge dilemma is that its definition, quite often, is distinctly unique to each individual. Two different and principled people can possess completely contradictory opinions on a subject yet both provide compelling arguments for each ones’ point of view. However, what has been very disturbing is seeing the lack of integrity which so-called “smart” businesspeople are demonstrating. It’s as though they realize owning integrity has damaging effects to their profit margins.
I have nothing against ingenuity, inventiveness, or entrepreneurship; nor is there is anything wrong in wanting to earn lots of money. Where the problem lies is when a business venture leads one to overlook the value of integrity for the sake of earning an extra buck. Most often, that kind of opportunism leads to unwarranted damage and harm to many unsuspecting and undeserving people.
It seems to be a growing trend in business to give customers less while charging them more. This isn’t simply a result of inflation but rather an intrinsic part of the corporate mindset to appease the shareholders in the name of profit and not for the purpose of good business practices and principles.
Affordable housing isn’t just an issue in the larger metropolitan cities on this planet; it has reached the level of a global crisis in the developed world. Likewise, healthcare for many, at least in the US, consumes a greater percentage of the family’s income than actual food does.
Why is this happening at this point in time? Is it some unforeseen phenomenon or unexplainable event?
I believe the reason for this is precisely because providing goods or services at a fair and decent price is no longer the business plan. Instead, the trend in commerce is now turning every possible occasion into outlandish opportunities for profit while deeming integrity more of a liability than an asset.
Why can’t commerce be more centered around integrity? Why can’t products be produced and sold at a fair but profitable margin? There have been a barrage of posts alluding to increasing customer service, creating a more productive work environment, and treating employees with courtesy and higher regard. But the corporate mentality seems to be leaning toward the welfare of the shareholders rather than those actually producing what the company sells. Business models are more focused on destroying competition through nefarious means – stifling competition, immorally fixing prices, and having absolutely no concern for the destruction left in their wake.
It’s time we value business leaders for their integrity and not for their ruthless potential for opportunism. Leaders in all sectors of business need to stand out with sincerity, honesty, and integrity; outstanding behavior is what ought to be commended and extolled. Conduct which ascribes values of trustworthiness and fairness should be the ones which get the acclaim and actions clearly displaying that revenue generation is the end which justifies the means, ought to be shunned and discredited.
It’s also no less important for those among the ranks to pursue these same ideals. It will take a concerted effort and although mistakes will happen, we learn from those opportunities and inspire others to do the same.
It’s nearly impossible to live in a world without business and it’s also vital to make a profit. But it’s not impossible to intertwine integrity in a company’s business plan. If not being an opportunist and not taking advantage of others for the purpose of generating maximum profits makes one a bad businessperson, then by all means, I want to be known as “Bad for Business”.
My thanks to Chris Charles of Unsplash for the beautiful picture. I look forward to your comments.