The value of integrity

content eye integrity

One well known definition of integrity is: doing the right thing, through your words, actions and beliefs, when no one is watching.

Having a high degree of integrity at work means that you are responsible for your actions and are trustworthy and reliable. It helps to create an open and positive environment and is underpinned by an ethical approach to decision making. It commands respect and trust and can be an important factor in career growth and personal and professional success.

According to Katie Carew, business manager at Michael Page Finance, these qualities are important now more than ever.

‘As a result of the pandemic, leaders and hiring managers are looking for trusted advisers to help their businesses build back, grow and develop – now more so than ever before,’ she says. ‘Accountants are going to be a crucial part of this process, and senior leadership teams will be looking for a high level of service and the ability to build a strong and reliable relationship with other areas of the business.

‘The majority of accounting firms will list things like integrity and ethical responsibility as qualities they expect all potential employees to be able to demonstrate at interview stage. The reason that these qualities are so important for an accountant to possess is due to the nature of the job, whereby the individual is responsible for crucial things such as financial reporting.

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‘There are examples of occasions on which businesses have released inaccurate financial data or skewed figures, which has had a negative impact on both their reputation in the media and among stakeholders and shareholders. In order to try and avoid situations like this, it is vital that ethical responsibility is kept at the forefront of employees’ minds.

‘Many accounting students who are taking exams such as ACCA will have to complete the Ethics and Professional Skills module, which has been introduced for the reasons mentioned above.’

Simple ways to show integrity at work

  • Show up on time – this simply shows that you are respectful of the company and your duties. If you’re 10 minutes late every day, it might not feel like a big deal, but as well as being a matter of principle, those 10 minutes add up!
  • Respect and follow company policies – this may be dress code or best practices, but following your company’s policy shows a commitment to work using the same values. If you don’t like your company’s policies, it may not be the right work environment for you.
  • Lead by example – no matter where you are on the career ladder, taking pride in your work and maintaining professional conduct encourages others to follow suit.
  • Take responsibility for your actions – everyone makes mistakes, but by accepting them and taking accountability for them you demonstrate both honesty and a willingness to accept constructive feedback.
  • Respect others’ opinions – even if you don’t agree with someone else’s point of view, it’s important to be respectful, listen  and take on board what the other person is saying.

ACCA's Ethics and Professional Skills module

Completing the Ethics and Professional Skills module (EPSM) will be an important step on your journey to ACCA membership. It is an essential part of the ACCA Qualification and helps increase your employability and workplace effectiveness.

Find out more

Author: Beth Holmes, writer

This article was first published in Student Accountant in January 2022

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