“It’s all above board legally…..” Mossack Fonseca highlights the difference between what’s legal and what has integrity.

You would hope that the law actually underpins personal and organisational integrity but recent events have demonstrated that this is not necessarily the case. By not considering integrity along with legality, some Australian businesses are damaging themselves and the society they operate in.

Not paying your fair share of tax to contribute to the society of which you are part of and gain benefit is morally wrong and dysfunctional to that society. Whatever damages the integrity of our society, damages its ability to function and fulfil its role i.e. to manage the wellbeing of its people. Ultimately, this is not good for that society and therefore the organisations that function in that society.

Take what’s happening with the tax avoidance issue right now around the world. There are billions of dollars in lost tax revenue not going towards funding education, hospitals, infrastructure, lowering our national debt etc. This damages the economy that also supports organisational success.

And there are consequences to damaging integrity – senior politicians and officials resigning and being scrutinised, criminal charges, careers ended, relationships damaged, organisational reputation and trust trashed and the public becoming even more cynical of its leaders.

For our organisations, the message this sends out to its people is also highly damaging. It will create a culture where people feel justified to behave in ways that damage integrity because they have a ‘good’ reason (e.g. it’s above board, legally) because their board, executives and management behave that way. Just play that one out and see the impact – no accountability, cheating, ripping off customers, illegal behaviour, lack of proper governance, taking unacceptable risk, inappropriate behaviour and the list goes on. Look at the recent behaviour of our banks and the increased pressure now for a royal commission.

Manage your integrity and life will work out, damage your integrity and it won’t in ways that you can see, and in ways that you can’t.

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