Incorporating Integrity – I, The Ethical Dimension

A brief review of some of the ethical imperatives emerging in business, in the light of a deeper perspective.

In the ethical perspective, integrity means honesty, truthfulness, transparency and condour in all transactions. This ethical aspect of integrity is now well recognized in business. We hear top executives talking about Integrity as the foundation of long-term effectiveness. Many reputed companies have placed Integrity as a core element in their value systems. As Pramod Bhasin, President and CEO of Genpack, states “For an enterprise to be successful in the long term it has to be founded on a strong platform of integrity and values” and when asked “how do leaders face up to scenarios where there could be a clash between values and pragmatism, especially in the light of competitive pressures”, Bhasin answers simply “The choice is easy if you really understand that integrity is non-negotiable”.

However modern business has arrived at this awakening to the importance of integrity mostly through pragmatic and environmental pressures like for example, changing competitive landscape, demands of the investor and customer, green or consumer activism, long-term benefits in terms of goodwill and trust, better public image. As the well-known founder of Infosys, Narayana Murthy points out: “Investors, customers, employees and vendors have all become very discerning and are demanding greater transparency in all dealings”. But to realize fully the spiritual potential as well as the material benefits of integrity, it has to be pursued for its own sake without seeking for any short-term or long-term material benefits, even while knowing that such benefits may come. For an ethical or spiritual value lived in action releases a moral and spiritual force, which brings material results in the long run.

The quality, power and effectiveness of this moral or spiritual force and its results depend on the extent of selflessness and disinterestedness in the motive. This is the significance of the constantly repeated assertion in the Indian epic Mahabharatha, that Dharma, (ethics) is the source of Artha, Wealth.

These are spiritual insights of seers which cannot be fully validated in empirical terms. However there are some executives and entrepreneurs in business, who are spiritually inclined, have experienced this phenomenon in their lives. Alvaro Cruz, CEO of the construction company I.C.M Ingeniers Ltd. states “Non-attachment to your work attracts more income and better result. The less attached you are to the fruits of your work the more you are likely to get higher profits”. And V.V. Ranganathan, a former Senior Partner, Ernst & Young states “If you are able to run any enterprise without selfish motives and with selfless service, then I believe that success will fall into place” and explains further “what I mean is that my effort and involvement in doing something is not determined or driven by what I get in return. And I know by my own experience this works.” The scientific mind may not accept these examples as valid proof. It may question the connection between the cause and effect. But the scientific mind must have the humility to admit that there are faculties beyond the scientific reason which can perceive truth which it cannot know.

M.S. Srinivasan

The author is a Research Associate at Sri Aurobindo Society and on the editorial board of Fourth Dimension Inc. His major areas of interest are Management and Indian Culture.

Courtsey: SCMS Journal of Indian Management

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