When was the last time you thought about ethics or integrity? Would you be surprised to know that you probably do so hundreds of times each day? Every interaction we have, whether in our personal or professional lives, requires us to consider choices set against a backdrop of cultural ethics. But what can be confusing for many is the difference between ethics and integrity. In its basic definition, ethics are a system of moral principles or rules of conduct. Integrity is the act of adhering to those moral systems.
Recently, I was in Guam to deliver training to new Sodexo staff and to review occupational and food safety processes for a new account. During a visit to one of the middle schools, the staff was unexpectedly short-handed, and the kids were coming fast. We abandoned our initial purpose and tended to the immediate one—serving the children. There is nothing like seeing smiles on the faces of our customers as they received nutritious (and might I add, well-served) meals. We served more than 200 meals in about a 40-minute period. What an experience! This was a great reminder to me of why we [Sodexo] do what we do and how our mission and values drive our business.
When the team rolled up its sleeves, we were fulfilling our commitment to provide the highest service and completing our promise to serve those customers on time. We gave our client another reason to trust us, and trust is a priceless commodity in business.
So my advice is to strive every day to act with integrity whether in your relationships or your business dealings.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes I was wearing a hat!
Keith Conerly is senior director of quality control, ethics and compliance for Sodexo’s Government Division and Office of Ethics and Compliance.