Integrity at work: why it matters

By Jostle

10 min read

Integrity at work: why it matters
Illustration by Kevin Yu

In our cutthroat world where it’s every person for themselves it seems that, in many cases, all the things that define integrity are gone. Things like honesty, strong ethical principles, and remaining truthful despite external pressures or circumstances.

People with integrity are often known for being committed to doing what’s right, even when it’s difficult, inconvenient, or may come at a personal cost. 

Think of it as a person’s moral compass. It’s not about rules and regulations; it’s about a deep sense of honor that guides someone in their interactions with others and when making decisions. A person’s integrity can be manifested in all areas of their life—interpersonal relationships, academic settings, and in a professional environment.

Since we’re all about the workplace, let’s talk about the role of integrity in the workplace.

What is integrity in the workplace?

Integrity can play a pivotal role in a workplace environment—not only can it foster trust, it can ultimately advance both personal and organizational growth.

Many organizations have mission statements that detail their core values. These are the fundamental principles that they use to guide and shape the culture, behavior, and even decision-making practices of the company. Think of this as the compass mentioned above, where integrity often plays a key role.

Integrity at work will include being truthful, principled, and ethical in all professional interactions.

Honesty and trustworthiness 

Honesty in the workplace refers to being truthful and transparent in all communications with colleagues, superiors, subordinates, and even external stakeholders like clients, customers, and partners.

For example, this could include the following:

  • Be accurate. Always provide accurate information, data, and reports without any type of exaggeration, omission, or distortion.
  • Don’t be deceitful. Avoid making misleading statements, half-truths, and outright lies in order to achieve personal or professional gains.
  • Admit your mistakes. Acknowledge all errors and mistakes openly—take responsibility and rectify them.
  • Maintain ethical sales and marketing practices. Always represent your products and services accurately and avoid misleading advertising or sales tactics.

Trustworthiness involves building and maintaining a reputation for reliability, dependability, and ethical conduct. Ethical teamwork, collaboration, and positive workplace relationships are all built on a foundation of trust. This can include:

  • Maintaining confidentiality. Always respect and protect sensitive information and maintain confidentiality when required.
  • Beware of conflicts of interest. Try to avoid situations where personal interests could compromise professional duties or decisions.
  • Ownership and accountability. Always take responsibility for your own actions, regardless of the potential positive or negative results. 


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In the context of accountability, integrity in the workplace refers to the commitment someone makes when taking ownership of their actions, decisions, and outcomes. This could include being answerable to your responsibilities, following through on commitments, and being just as transparent when it comes to shortcomings and failures as you would naturally be about achievements or successes.

Here’s a few examples of how accountability can relate to workplace integrity:

  • Blame-shifting. Instead of pointing fingers at someone else, the accountable person will focus on what they can control and work toward a solution.
  • Honest self-assessments. Accountable individuals will critically assess their performance and then acknowledge areas for improvement.
  • Report mistakes. Mistakes happen, and the accountable individual will promptly admit their mistake and then take steps to rectify them.


Professionalism refers to maintaining a high standard of behavior, attitude, and ethical conduct in all professional interactions. In an organizational setting, it can embody respect, competence, and the commitment someone has to upholding the values of that organization.

Using the lens of integrity, how is this achieved?

  • Always deliver your best. Granted, for most of us, there’s something of a sliding scale when it comes to our best—today’s best may be different than tomorrow’s best. But professionalism and integrity will prompt a person to deliver their best quality work.
  • Honest self-assessments. Professionals will accurately assess their skills and expertise, and they’ll look for opportunities to improve when necessary.
  • Adhere to policies. Always follow company policies and industry regulations.
  • Meet commitments. Professional individuals will honor their promises and commitments, ensuring that deadlines and obligations are met.

Fairness and respect 

When focusing on fairness and respect, integrity in the workplace means treating everyone equitably, valuing their contributions, and fostering an environment where everyone is treated with dignity, and decisions are made without bias.

Here are some examples of how integrity, fairness, and respect are interconnected in the workplace.

  • Consistency. Demonstrate consistency by applying fairness and respect in all interactions, avoiding favoritism and discrimination.
  • Recognition. Acknowledge and appreciate every employee’s contribution and accomplishment, promoting and fostering a sense of worth.
  • Dignity. Treat all individuals with dignity and consideration, regardless of their role or level in the organization.
  • Equality. Treat all employees, regardless of their background, position, or characteristics, with the same standards and opportunities.

Why integrity matters


Why does integrity matter? Or more specifically, integrity in the workplace. 

Integrity in the workplace is the cornerstone of ethical behavior and will play a significant role in shaping the culture and success of an organization.

Here are several key reasons why integrity in the workplace is of utmost importance.

Builds trust and credibility 

Integrity is the foundation of trust and credibility. It creates an environment where honesty, ethical behavior, and consistency are valued and practiced—every single day. 

Here's how workplace integrity contributes to the establishment of trust and credibility:

  • Consistency of words and actions. When individuals consistently align their actions with their words and values, it establishes a sense of reliability. People can trust that what is promised will be delivered, leading to confidence in an organization's credibility.
  • Ethical decision-making. Integrity guides individuals and organizations to make decisions based on ethical principles, even in difficult situations. Ethical behavior demonstrates a commitment to doing what is right, which will resonate with stakeholders and enhance trustworthiness.
  • Builds a positive reputation. Organizations that are known for integrity gain a positive reputation, which contributes to their credibility. Positive word-of-mouth spreads, and potential stakeholders are more likely to believe in and trust a reputable organization.

Fosters a positive work environment 

Integrity plays a crucial role in building and sustaining a positive work environment by creating a foundation of trust, respect, and ethical behavior. When integrity is upheld by everyone in an organization, it contributes to a workplace culture that’s collaborative, transparent, and conducive to personal and professional growth. 

Here's how integrity can build a positive work environment:

  • Trust and Open Communication. Integrity promotes honest and open communication. If employees trust that their colleagues and leaders are truthful and reliable, they’ll feel comfortable about sharing ideas, concerns, and feedback. All this ultimately leads to a more open and collaborative work environment.
  • Respect and Fair Treatment. A commitment to integrity will ensure that all individuals are treated with respect and fairness, regardless of their position or background. This creates a sense of inclusion and belonging, contributing to a positive workplace environment.
  • Employee Engagement and Satisfaction. Employees who work somewhere that values integrity feel more engaged and satisfied. They know that their contributions are recognized, and their concerns are addressed, which leads to increased morale and motivation.

Encourages ethical behavior 

Integrity in the workplace can be a powerful catalyst for encouraging ethical behavior between employees and within an organization as a whole. When integrity is upheld and valued, it will create a culture where ethical considerations are central to all decision-making and actions.

Here’s a few examples of how integrity promotes and encourages ethical behavior in the workplace:

  • Leading by example. When leaders and management demonstrate integrity through their actions and decisions, they set a strong example for their employees. Observing ethical behavior at the highest level of an organization encourages employees to follow suit.
  • Establishing and ethical decision-making framework. Integrity will encourage the establishment of ethical decision-making frameworks and guidelines. These tools can help employees wade through complex situations by providing them with a structured approach to evaluating their options and helping them choose an ethical path.
  • Peer influence. A company where ethical behavior is valued, employees can influence each other to uphold this standard. Positive peer pressure can encourage ethical conduct and discourage unethical actions.

Increases productivity and efficiency 

An organization where integrity is upheld creates an environment of trust, accountability, and ethical behavior, all of which leads to improved productivity and efficiency.

Here's how integrity can contribute to productivity and efficiency:

  • Trust and collaboration. In a company where trust exists between colleagues and teams, they collaborate more effectively and share information more openly. Everyone working toward a common goal creates a collaborative atmosphere, speeds up decision-making and problem-solving processes, ultimately boosting productivity and efficiency.
  • Accountability and responsibility. Integrity encourages employees to take ownership of their tasks and decisions. When individuals are accountable for their actions, they are more likely to complete tasks efficiently and meet deadlines.

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Examples of integrity in the workplace

Integrity in the workplace can be demonstrated through a variety of actions and behaviors.

Transparency in communication and decision-making

When organizations prioritize transparency, they create an environment where information flows openly, and decisions are made with clarity. This will enhance trust, encourage accountability, and foster ethical conduct.

Additionally, transparent communication creates a culture of honesty and openness among employees and between employees and leadership. It establishes an environment where everyone feels valued and included, promoting informed decision-making and preventing hidden agendas. This helps to build trust since individuals know they’ll be treated fairly, and their concerns will be addressed.

Perhaps most importantly, transparent organizations are often better equipped to face a crisis, as honest communication during challenging times can maintain trust and manage expectations.

Admitting mistakes and taking responsibility

Admitting mistakes and taking responsibility is fundamental to integrity in the workplace. It demonstrates a commitment to honesty, accountability, and ethical behavior. 

When individuals have the integrity to admit their errors and take ownership of them, several positive outcomes are achieved. For example:

  • Admitting mistakes builds trust
  • Taking responsibility displays maturity and professionalism
  • It paves the way for growth and learning
  • it reinforces ethical behavior

Treating all employees equally and fairly

Displaying integrity in the workplace reflects a commitment to ethical conduct, respect, and a positive work environment. When organizations prioritize treating their employees equitably and fairly, it fosters a sense of inclusivity and belonging. When all employees are treated with the same standards of fairness, it creates an environment where diversity is valued, and everyone feels respected regardless of their background.

Additionally, equal and fair treatment builds trust. Employees can be sure that they’ll be evaluated, rewarded, and treated based on their merit and performance rather than on any personal biases.

How to promote integrity in the workplace


Promoting integrity in the workplace will involve several strategies. The good news is none of them are too difficult!

Establish clear values and expectations

Setting clear values and expectations involves defining core ethical principles and effectively communicating them. This will help to cultivate a work environment where ethical behavior is valued, upheld, and ultimately becomes ingrained behavior in the organization.

Provide training and resources

Offer employees training programs that focus on ethics, integrity, and decision-making. These programs can help to equip employees with the skills they need to navigate potentially troublesome situations while still upholding the organization’s values and mission statement.

Lead by example

Don’t establish a do is I say, not as I do culture. Instead, leaders and managers need to embody their organization’s established values in all their actions and decisions. A leader’s behavior should set the tone for the entire organization, and influence employees to follow suit.

Encourage open communication

First of all, make sure to clearly communicate the company’s core values to all through orientations, training sessions, internal communications, and whatever means available.

Additionally, be transparent in communication. Always keep employees informed about any changes, challenges, and successes. This type of transparent communication will build trust and reinforce the organization’s commitment to its values.


It’s clear that integrity in the workplace is essential for several reasons.

It builds trust among employees, clients, and partners and that trust, in turn, leads to a positive work environment, enhanced collaboration, increased productivity, and more. Additionally, integrity upholds ethical behavior, helping individuals to make principled decisions even when they’re faced with challenging situations.

Ultimately, this ethical foundation will ensure legal compliance, prevent conflict, and even contribute to an organization’s long-term success and reputation. Integrity will shape a workplace culture that values honesty, fairness, and accountability, all of which will lead to higher employee morale, stakeholder trust, and a better competitive edge.

So embrace integrity as a guiding principle in your organization. Lead by example and be the force that helps demonstrate integrity in your decisions and actions. 

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