Integrity is “Authenticity” judged true, external recognition of congruency between identity and actions. Try as I might, I cannot assert that I have integrity; rather it must be earned and bestowed, as it is a descriptor of character based on trust (which implies being known) and observation.
The word itself descends to us from the Latin word “integer,” which means “whole.” Thus, to have integrity is to have wholeness, to be undivided.
Individuals have always been able to judge a company to have integrity or not, but that judgment has a whole new meaning in view of the power shift underway as a result of the “digital disturbance” of the internet (which has democratized information) and social media (which allows lightning quick social organization) now in the hands of customers and employees, who both often express the same social norms.
In essence, a highly efficient market of reputation and trust has emerged, where companies are now the subject on display. Due to similar forces, we now see what is effectively “day trading” in reputations to match the aforementioned practice that has proliferated in recent years based on extreme efficiencies in the equities markets. As a result, companies in today’s business landscape must unswervingly pursue Authenticity such that customers and employees might bestow upon them the mark of Integrity, which together with the meaningfulness to that same population of the company’s Purpose, will grant the ever more coveted, “social license to operate.”