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Integrity - the ultimate ethical standard

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

We use the word integrity to mean honesty but it really means being whole, complete, and undivided. It is the undivided aspect that means integrity can not be a part of a list of ethical standards rather it is the list of standards we embrace and use to define our own integrity.

Start with what you believe to be right and true. Martin Luther King Jr had a dream of what he believed in. A professional set of ethical standards could be;

1. Act honourably - never put yourself before those whom you serve;

2. Be honest - never mislead, withhold or distort;

3. Be accountable - own your actions good or bad;

4. Work within your capabilities - so you can deliver on your promise;

5. Respect all others equally all the time;

6. Stand up to prevent harm to others - the standard you walk past is the standard you


7. Be objective at all times - don't let your feelings or interests cloud your judgement;

8. Uphold the law;

9. Be open and transparent in all your dealings;

10. Avoid conflicts of interest - declare any potential conflict of interest.

There is no one list. We can each define our own, but this can add confusion which is why we naturally seek to associate with those with whom we have values in common with, and why clubs and associations exist.

When you have your list, wrap integrity around it. If it leaks, you may have standards that are incompatible with each other. Resolve the conflict and start again. Be ever vigilant that you following your standards and your standards are currently appropriate to maintain an ethical practice.

By Matthew Ensoll

Life Member NZIQS Reg.QS.

Editor, The New Zealand Building Economist (NZBE).


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