4 Jul 2012

Organisational integrity

A lack of integrity played a signficant part in various scandals from Enron to the banking crisis, via MPs’ expenses to phone hacking. But there is no consensus over what it is and how to go about encouraging it

ICAEW has carried out research to create a framework of techniques seen as having an impact on organisations’ integrity, including values, support for whistleblowing, tone from the top and open culture.

Elizabeth Higgs, ICAEW ethics and integrity manager and author of the report, called Real Integrity, says that while promoting integrity is a board role, responsibility for implementing the framework should be owned by HR, which has access to the key organisational levers.

This doesn’t absolve all employees of responsibility. "The environment can be made more conducive to integrity," she says, "but it still requires individuals to make the right decisions. Ideas such as openness rely on individuals."

She says leaders tend to be unaware of the effects of whistleblowing or rewarding ethical behaviour, while discipline and training can have a negative impact on integrity.