I is for Integrity


Copyright © 2018 by Barney Rosenberg
President, Ethics Line, LLC™

Let me begin with a short story that will provide a little context for our conversation about Integrity.

Not too long ago I received an email from a co-worker.  He was the senior executive on site at a manufacturing location.  We had not met before but he was up-to-date on his ethics training and had a question.

He had been surfing the Internet and came across a public web site belonging to one of our competitors.  He decided to dive a little deeper on the site and to his great surprise he came across documents labeled “proprietary” and “confidential”.  There were even manufacturing drawings with factory process drawings.  Remember, this was information that was out there!  Available to anybody.

When the email arrived on my screen, outlining what I just told you, I called him.  After brief exchanges of nice-to-finally-meet-you, he asked “Barney, what do you think I should do?”  I knew what I wanted him to do but I asked “What do your instinct and experience tell you?”

He said “I think I should contact them and tell them that their valuable information is exposed.  I also want them to know that I did not make copies of anything I saw and would not use their information, at all.” I agreed.

A couple of days later he sent me a letter.  It was from the president of the competitor and said “I can’t thank you enough for bringing this situation to our attention.  It’s one thing to compete fiercely for customers and business.  It’s a whole other thing to do so with integrity and honesty.  We have taken that information down.  I only hope that someday I can do something like what you have done for somebody else.  Sincerely….”

  1. One more story:

We had recently launched an online training course on the importance and sanctity of quality assurance “stamps” used on the shop floor.  The stamps indicate that a QA technician has personally completed a testing step in the manufacturing process and that the part has passed the test.  Only then can it move down the production line toward completion.

A particular manufacturing drawing contained the customer’s requirement that a certain piece of digital test equipment be used for the testing.  Well, the tech used the equipment and the part repeatedly failed.  The tech contacted his supervisor who seemed quite annoyed with the tech and said “D..n it! Just use the old analog test gear.  We know it will pass with that!”

The tech declined the invitation.  He took his duty seriously.  His stamp on the “traveler” that moved down the production line with the part, meant something.  He was a little afraid of the wrath of his supervisor, but he knew the right thing to do.  He had also just completed that training course.  He called me.  I stuck my nose in it.  I went to the site President and guess what.  The tech was applauded for doing the right thing.  The supervisor was NOT.  And a small step in the manufacturing sequence was adjusted to meet the contract requirements.  From then on, the parts cleared the digital test equipment.

When you love what you do and you admire the people you do it with, there should be a better word than “work” to describe it.

Please share your examples of Integrity.


  1. Thank you for these stories. These are the things that make up the daily life of compliance and ethics people. When I read articles by academics who don’t believe that compliance and ethics programs “work,” I know they have never taken the time to talk with the everyday heroes in companies. To be successful in compliance & ethics programs we need the employees and managers with the guts to ask questions, and compliance & ethics people fully empowered to get results and to champion those who stand up to misconduct. Cheers, Joe

  2. Well said Joe. It would be great to hear from our fellow ethics practitioners about their experiences – good and not so good!

    Thanks for the feedback.

  3. My son played chess competitively. One year they scored incorrectly and he took the trophy, knowing there was a mistake. He came to me about it. I could see in eyes he didn’t want the medal in place of the trophy, but I explained to him that the right thing to do was to let them know there was a mistake so the person who earned that trophy could get it. As we were walking to the judges, the little boy who was supposed to win was there, crying. When they corrected the scores, and gave everyone what they were supposed to get, the little boy thanked my son, and the judges thanked him for having great sportsmanship. My son felt good about what he did, and I was proud that I taught him a life lesson!

    • Diana:
      We have never met and I am proud of your son for doing the right thing! And a big shout out to his fabulous Mom. Such a supportive teacher! Well done!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here