Building A Culture of Integrity

Building A Culture of Integrity

By: Cathy S. Babao

*Originally published in The Blue Deer Jan/Feb 2012 (including photo)


The year of the dragon promises to be a year infused with the passion for integrity for Janssen Philippines. To start the year off,  at the January kick-off, the company invited esteemed family and child psychologist Dr. Ma. Lourdes “Honey” Carandang to talk to all of us about how we could build a culture of integrity within the company.

Dr. Carandang began her talk by posing the very important question – Are we seeing the demise of ethics and values in the 21st century?  And she said the answer was unfortunately, yes.   “We are seeing now a culture of lying, intimidation and impunity.  Where telling the truth has become dangerous to life.”

How then do we re-start or re-ignite a culture of integrity?  We begin with ourselves, she says.

“It is essential to have a deeper understanding of integrity. Integrity does not just mean honesty. One must have a solid anchor inside the self.  It is also important to have a consistent set of core values. The inner self and the outer self has to be congruent.  This is the only way we can live authentically, “ Dr. Carandang explained.  She stressed that  a person with integrity can be who he or she is wherever he/she is and whoever he/she is with because there is a solid sense of self and a clear and consistent anchor within.

And as always it starts within the family.

The roots of integrity begin in childhood and that is why parenting, she says, is a huge responsibility.  Admittedly though, if this is not done properly, it may be too late for some, but still possible for others.  “Child-rearing and discipline must be meted out with dignity and respect,” she stressed.  “Pinagtatakpan (covering up), pinagbibigyan (giving into unnecessarily) and kawawa naman (pity that is out of place) are not at all helpful and may be destructive even because you are teaching the child the wrong values – that of rescuing him or her from the consequences of undesirable behavior,” Dr. Carandang said.

Integrity starts within the family setting and is absorbed by the child in a subliminal, total and effortless manner. “It is a critical absorption that has a lasting impact,” she explains.  When that child grows up and becomes a member of the workforce, he or she must ideally possess the following qualities – one,  authenticity, meaning you are true to yourself, you are able to own your feelings and issues and you do not blame others.  Secondly, you must be able to listen with empathy to others and not be judgmental.

Dr. Carandang says that the person with integrity also is imbued with the five C’s – conviction (of one’s values and ideals), clarity (of purpose and thought), consistency (in behavior), is cognizant of the consequences of his or her actions and lastly is able to communicate freely and effortlessly what he or she believes in and stands for.

Kindness, not surprisingly, is a characteristic of the person with integrity.  “The person with integrity is compassionate and lives with kindness,” she stresses.  “That person keeps an open mind and can give and receive feedback without taking things personally.  He or she is flexible and adaptable without having to give up his or her values.  Firmness and decisiveness are qualities that define the person with integrity.  He or she does not flip-flop. More importantly, there is a wholeness of the self. Buong-buo, thus, that person is not easily swayed.”

Dr. Carandang suggested some concrete steps on how a person can build integrity, assuming that these were not developed early in life.

  1. Start with your own individual self.  A person, she says, needs to take a long, good and brave look at himself or herself. “Attending workshops run by qualified counselors or teachers is a good starting point. Reading books and seeking the help of trained professionals to accompany you on your journey can be beneficial,” she said.
  2. Acquire and practice the qualities of the person with integrity.
  3. Find yourself a mentor.  A mentor she says can be a very powerful and significant person inyour quest to build integrity. Ideally it must be someone who knows you, someone whom you can look up to and whose opinions you respect.
  4. Seek a leader with integrity, who lives and practices each and every day of his or her life.  “Sometimes we are disappointed by the people who lead us. Do not be discouraged and do what you can to help foster or ignite integrity in your workplace,” she suggested.
  5. Last, but most important of all, Dr. Carandang suggests finding a group of people with the same core values. “Start small, but start now where you are.”

Dr. Carandang closed her talk with a quote from the socio-anthropologist Margaret Mead – “Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problems. All social movements are founded by and through the passion of individuals.”  She further added that it was important to empower oneself and have that passion for integrity and for life itself.

Dr. Ma Lourdes Carandang is the Philippines’ foremost child and family therapist. She has published several books and is a consultant for several projects with the WHO and UNICEF and is a National Social Scientist.

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