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Integrity: It's either you have it or you don't.

What is integrity? There are several definitions taken from dictionary, including:

  • The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

  • The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change.

  • The practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values.

In short, it have to do about honesty, adherence to strong moral, ethical which need to be done consistently.

Integrity Gap

A survey done in 2020 presented that there is a perception that corruption in Indonesia has increased in the previous 12 months, and as we all know corruption goes hand in hand with lack of integrity, moreover if corruption was not seen as a wrong thing.

Every organization has integrity gaps—areas where what’s considered appropriate behavior diverges from the norms set by its leaders.

Many leaders publicize their organizations’ commitment to integrity and say that their employees should feel empowered to speak up if they see something questionable. Yet, many leaders don’t discover the magnitude of integrity gaps until a problem has blown up into a crisis.

Integrity gaps arise for several reasons. Before your organization can develop a plan to identify integrity gaps in its culture, you needs to accept: (1) Some misconduct do exist in your organization; and (2) a considerable amount of misconduct is not going to be internally reported.

Building Block

Integrity should be the the building block for doing business. Because it is the foundation of what ever business operation an organization have. Nobody (well, most people that is and those that have integrity) will not want to get involved with an organization that lies, cheats and tricks its stakeholders, they also do not want to work for a boss that is dishonest or an organization that is devious to their employee. On the other side, if an organization recruit and retain people without integrity, there will be consequences, not only on the morale of the existing people, but also increases the potential of fraudulent risk within the organization. We should have set the bar straight in our organization that integrity should be the threshold characteristic of our people.

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) believes that internal audit's role in governance is vital. Internal audit provides shall provides objective assurance and insight on the effectiveness and efficiency of risk management, internal control, and governance processes.

With regard to integrity, specifically internal auditors should also follow:

  • Core Principles for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing: Principle#1 Demonstrates Integrity

  • Code of Ethics: Principle#1 Integrity

  • Standards: Attribute Standards 1100 – Independence & Objectivity

Internal auditing shall be performed by professionals who have a deep appreciation of the importance of strong governance, an in-depth understanding of business systems and processes, and a fundamental drive to help their organizations succeed. By that auditor should have been accustomed to the concept of integrity in their daily activities. Still some have fall to temptations.

What We Can Do

To understand if our organization have a problem in the integrity area, we need to identify where the problem is. Try to find out by randomly surveying people in the organization on practices related to integrity from their experience and perspective. This could include conflict of interest, bribes or inappropriate gifts, accounting irregularities, theft, violation to monopolistic practices & unfair business competition, deviation to national ideology, and so on. Next is to ask them if they have observed such questionable conduct, did they report it, and if not why. Those will be enough to have a ground-level view of practices that senior management may be missing and it will help in identifying where the problem lies.

An integrity maturity measurement could also be conducted. Design whatever level your organization preferred with, but make sure that the component should cover at least these three areas: Ethical leadership, Organization fairness, and Comfort of speaking up.

From there draw up an integrity building plan. This plan or strategy should be more than just a compliance driven strategy, because integrity is broader, deeper, and more demanding than a legal compliance initiative.

Accountability & Responsibility

As any given individual, and more over if your are leader of your organization, everyone should have their fair share of building integrity:

  • Leaders, please lead by example and walk the talk.

  • Everyone should not be shy or avoid to talk about integrity. If everyone is talking about it, it is one step of making it internalized within the organization.

  • Make sure people know where to report violations.

  • Demonstrate the consequences for breaching integrity. This shows that the organization is serious and committed to it, and it provide a lesson learn to others.

  • Do it consistently - not just ceremonial or on paper or just during launching/initial phase. Remember that repetition matters.

  • Have internal audit expand their scope to include areas such as risk governance, culture and behavior, sustainability, and other non-financial measures.

''Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.''


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