Integrity in the Workplace: Why It’s Important – Freesumes

A couple of years ago, Starbucks started campaigning for sustainability. Their first step: switch to strawless lids to reduce waste created by plastic straws. Good idea, right?

Well, not quite. The media soon found that the new lids contained more plastic than the old lid and straw combination. While the company tried to rationalize that this was made from recyclable plastic, critics rightfully pointed out that only a fraction of plastic gets recycled. 

The moral of this story? Starbucks did a poor job of cultivating integrity in the workplace. 

What is Integrity in the Workplace?

In the workplace, integrity refers to consistency between the employee’s actions, values, and methods they use to get the job done. 

Integrity has two components:

  • Personal – includes internal motivation to align with your ethical principles and moral values. 
  • Professional  – includes adherence to the corporate policies, applicable laws, and industry regulations for your profession. 

According to an EY survey, 33% of business leaders say behaving with ethical standards is an important characteristic of integrity. Another 50% also name compliance with laws, regulations, and codes of conduct as important characteristics of workplace integrity. 

Conversely, integrity means that you’re a reliable, honest, and trustworthy person, capable of “doing the right thing” even when facing moral dilemmas. 

Examples of Integrity at the Workplace 

Doing the right thing often means doing the difficult thing. Sometimes you may want to conceal a mistake to not get fired. At other times, it may be tempting to cut some corners to add another accomplishment to your resume

On the other hand, one wrong action can cost you your professional reputation and, in some industries, your professional license. 

Here’s what it means to act with integrity in the workplace: 

  1. A vet assistant admits to the doctor that they were not fully following the post-treatment protocol, hence the new disease flare-up. 
  1. A sales manager refuses to push for a higher-priced solution to a client because they don’t have sufficient operational maturity to fully profit from it. 
  1. An employee stands up to a more senior colleague when they have been unfairly criticizing their colleague due to a personal bias. 

Why Integrity is Important in the Workplace

Integrity is a pillar of trust — and trust is the key factor of success for any business. 

No one would go to a hospital, whose treatment protocols are questionable. Likewise, few customers will buy from a producer known for watering down their wine. High integrity creates a strong reputation. Lack of thereof often results in monetary damages in the form of high compliance fines, lost brand equity, plummeting stocks, and consumer boycotts. 

A study found that markets often punish a lack of integrity among company leadership. These can include personal indiscretions committed by CEOs or a wider range of problems at all levels. 

Take it from the cautionary tale of WeWork — a startup that lost over 70% of its valuation in a month, after a former employee shared some disturbing insights into the company’s toxic workplace culture, poor corporate governance, and a CEO who had been borrowing money from the company with no interest to fund his outlandish lifestyle. 

That said, integrity isn’t just a must-have trait for corporate leaders — it’s an essential quality for every employee. As Warren Buffet once said

[At Berkshire Hathaway] We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity.

His rationale? People without integrity can’t be trusted to do important work, so it’s better to have someone lazy and dumb, rather than a person whose judgment you’ll constantly doubt. 

The bottom line: Integrity inspires trust and respect at the workplace, fosters better teamwork, and drives organizational success. So it’s a quality many employers will expect you to showcase when asked situational or behavioral interview questions

How to Demonstrate Integrity in the Workplace? 

You are scrupulous about following your personal principles and corporate principles. So how do you best demonstrate that you walk the talk? Here are several ways to showcase integrity in the workplace.

1. Communicate Openly 

People may suspect outlier motives when you purposefully conceal or avoid certain subjects. Honest, proactive communication is the easiest way to prove them wrong. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, feelings, and observations with others. Admit when you’re wrong or don’t know the correct answer. People will not think less of you. On the contrary, they’d appreciate your candor and transparency. 


Your boss asks you to complete a task you have never done before. Admit that this is new for you, but you’re eager to learn, rather than pretending that this is up your alley and then failing to complete the task on time.

2. Match Your Actions With Words 

No one likes a flaky — a person who loves big talk, but never follows through on their promises. By matching your word with your deeds, you showcase reliability and credibility — another two important qualities people value at the workplace. 


Keep the promises you make to others. If you’ve said you’ll have the task completed by a certain time or date, do so. Better yet — get it done in advance.

3. Treat Everyone Fairly 

Few people will tolerate colleagues or bosses who treat employees differently, showing signs of favoritism or negatively singling out certain colleagues. People with high integrity treat everyone fairly and with respect, regardless of the other person’s position on the corporate ladder or some personal sentiments. 


You speak to employees at every level with an equal level of politeness. You don’t discard someone’s opinions just because they’re in a junior role.

Final Thoughts 

Integrity often ranks amongst the top qualities employers seek and for a good reason. Workers with high integrity are dependable, honest, and authentic in their communication. They help cultivate an inspiring work culture, serving as role models for others. So this is a quality you should showcase during your next job interview!


  • Elena Prokopets

    Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice… more

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