Beyond The Letter of The Law

When you drive your car, you accept certain legal requirements. You pay the fees for your car registration, drive within the speed limit, stop at red lights, and drive in the correct direction on one-way streets. But chances are you also engage in some sensible behaviors that may not be required by law, like paying for regular car maintenance, driving with courtesy and respect for other drivers, keeping an eye out for trouble ahead, and maybe even yielding once in a while when there’s no yield sign. No laws force you to do these things.  These actions show common sense that you’ve learned to apply in order to keep your life and car intact.

When it comes to ethical business practices, some people mistakenly believe that as long as we obey the law, there is no reason for concern. But the truth is, we’ve all seen legal decisions that may have been technically correct but were wrong for the business and led to big problems down the road. Laws and regulations form a minimum standard for good decisions, but they should never be the only measure. Integrity in everything we do is the bottom line.

Reputation is Important

Reputations are important. We know this on a personal level and on a corporate level. Many companies and their corporate officers have found themselves on the front page of the news because of their unethical decisions. Some companies have been prosecuted, found guilty, been banned from important government contracts, and even forced into bankruptcy. A number of individuals have even been sentenced to jail terms for their roles in corporate bribery or corruption. Even companies that have been charged with illegal activity and not been proved guilty have faced serious consequences including enormous legal fees, settlements in the millions, and negative publicity that destroyed their reputation.

Always Act with Integrity

Integrity — complete honesty at all times — inspires trust, which is the foundation of most business transactions. Upholding the value of integrity should be the final deciding factor in all our actions. The best decisions are made because they are right, not just because they’ll keep us out of trouble. That’s why every decision we make should “err” on the side of integrity, never on “cutting corners,” “sneaking by,” or even “following the letter of the law.” Anything less will erode the confidence of our stakeholders: customers, vendors, suppliers, shareholders, and even other employees.