How to build a strong foundation with business integrity
Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash
In today’s fast-changing world, where trust in business becomes scarcer by the day, business integrity becomes a must-have virtue for any business to survive and grow exponentially. Regulators and legislators are focusing more on integrity and ethics in business, as are consumers and investors. Today, more than ever, people are becoming more concerned about a business's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors when carrying out transactions than they were many years ago. People want to be assured that their transactions and investment are safe and secure.
So, what better way is there to reassure customers that they are dealing with a legit company or an integrity business? There is none that I know now. However, one of the best ways to boost customers' trust in business is by imbibing and showing integrity in all business operations, from product conception to final consumption. But it’s not just about the customers; it’s also about your reputation, family, employees, government, investors, environment, society, and everyone.
This article explores the concept and principle of business integrity and how integrity in business can help a business to achieve its set goals easily. This comprises short-term benefits and long-term benefits. To set the tone for the discussion, let’s begin with an overview of the concept of integrity as it applies to business.
What is integrity in business?
Integrity in business is all about doing the right thing, regardless of whether you are seen or praised. It means committing to doing what you or your business says it will do. This can easily be accomplished by promoting an ethical culture throughout your organization from top to bottom. It's about you or your business being transparent and accountable, owning up to mistakes in your business, and taking responsibility when things go wrong.
Integrity goes beyond checking off boxes or complying with standard regulations. Instead, a business driven by integrity is interested in doing what is right and what is allowed by regulation or convention. This adds another tier of trust to its operations. Business integrity is (or has to be) intentional and focused. It doesn’t happen by chance or accident. It has to be properly envisioned, incorporated in the mission and vision statement of a business, and implemented across the different tiers of the organization.
Business integrity reflects in interactions with people within a business, like the employees and investors. It also links to outsiders like customers, suppliers, the government, and non-governmental regulators. Integrity in business ensures that all business activities align with what is right to meet the business goals and values. Above all, it means always behaving with integrity, no matter the situation, whether it’s a major achievement or a business problem. So, building a reputation as a business that operates with integrity isn't just about following the rules. Rather, it's about what is right, even when no one is watching or praising.
Now we know what integrity in business is, let's examine what integrity business stands to gain by upholding truthful and ethical standards in business operations.
Why is integrity important in business?
There are about three benefits that integrity brings to any business:
Achieve Business Goals Faster
Lesser Worries Over Regulatory Issues
Achieve Business Goals Faster
Can you keep your business running without quality employees? Not really, except it’s a one-person business. One of the best ways to keep employees committed to achieving your business goals is by continuously inspiring them to uphold a culture and lifestyle of integrity in their dealings in the business. Thus honesty and integrity in business can go a long way in quickening the pace of attaining business goals.
Integrity in business can enhance a business's reputation, attracting more customers and retaining the old ones. It can also make a business attract more attractive investment opportunities. Either way, a business would enjoy more income from increased patronage due to its track record of trustworthiness in business operations and living up to the customer's and investors’ expectations. Studies show that there is a correlation between business integrity and the financial performance of businesses. Companies with a strong commitment to integrity are estimated to have 10-year shareholder returns 7% higher than those with low integrity. Moreover, a study of 480 large multinational firms has found that growth in sales in markets with low background risks of corruption has a greater positive effect on a firm’s profitability than sales growth in markets with high integrity risks.
Lesser worries over regulatory issues
Prioritizing integrity in business operations can help a business avoid regulatory problems of noncompliance like fines, penalties, liquidation, or closure. This is a powerful reason for any business to prioritize implementing business integrity and improving it where it is found shaky and falls short of expectation.
More ways integrity in business can help a business to attain desired goals.
The preceding section already gave an insight into the importance of integrity in business and why you should incorporate it in your business or uphold it if your business has already done that.
Here are more reasons to make business integrity part and parcel of your business for achieving your business goals:
Improve company culture
Create a positive company culture by leading with integrity from the top management down to the latest recruit in the business. A culture of honesty and decency will benefit a business in many ways, including efficiently managing the business's time, materials, and resources. Also, compliance with business rules and working guidelines is beneficial. Third, there is the benefit of reduced employee fraud or theft. Integrity mechanisms can also help reduce the impact of employee fraud or theft, estimated to account for up to 6% of a firm’s annual revenue.
Improve customer relationships
Building trust and authenticity in business operations encourages customers to keep interacting with a business easier than they would with a business with a shady record. This interaction can be financial, customer care, after-sales services, etc. Increased trust in a business would lead to increased interactions, especially financial transactions with a business. This, in turn, boosts business performance. Thus, a business's performance would greatly improve by prioritizing ethics over profit.
Tip: customers value faster responses, replies, and feedback while dealing with a business. Sadly, many businesses still interact with customers in the old, slow way, which repels many customers and drives down trust. This is where a tool like Workee CRM comes in. Speed up communication and interaction and improve relationships with your customers in a new, modern way by using Workee CRM. It is an industry-leading CRM tool with built-in features for improving customer relationships and interactions. Signup for a free account here.
Meet corporate social responsibilities (CSR)
A business's Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) can influence (i.e., improve) business trust, leading to greater business sustainability and growth. However, a business would lose these benefits if it defaults on its CSR. So, upholding ethics, good morals, trust, and values in your business practices can help you achieve your corporate social responsibilities and reap the benefits that come with it.
Increased employee retention
Integrity is important in business because it helps establish a strong sense of corporate purpose and a good working environment for the employees. Leaders who uphold ethical principles are likely to attract like-minded individuals as assistants (i.e., employees) and create a talent pipeline that reflects the values and goals of a business. Doing the right thing in your business can keep your best employees working with you for a long time. This is because they trust your business will be around for a long and feel secure to continue working with you.
Attract and retain quality investors.
Investors want to work with a business with a track record of integrity. Thus, business integrity can go a long way in helping you develop stronger partnerships with investors who share your business ethics and can help your business to grow faster. Besides, you can have sustainable supply chains for raw materials and your processed products or services.
Integrity business is not impossible to run, but it sometimes demands some commitment and sacrifice to keep up with the business challenges that may come along the way. But then, it is doable and brings business great rewards. Integrity in business is such a strong chord that strengthens the business relationship with all stakeholders, including management, employees, customers, investors, regulators, and influencers. By establishing a code of business integrity and prioritizing ethics in your business, you can work more effectively with all involved and reap bountiful rewards in the present and future.
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