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What is "integrity?"

· Compliance

Our goals are clear: We want to be one of the most sustainable companies in the world and to achieve long-term growth by focusing on innovation and acting with integrity and transparency.

Perhaps all CEOs would say this. The above is a part of Carlos Ghosn’s CEO message shown in Nissan’s Sustainability Report 2016.

You will see “integrity” in the above sentence. This word is translated into “誠意” in the Japanese language version of the Sustainability Report. From my view, this is not correct to translate “integrity” into 誠実. It must be katakana characters インテグリティ to represent foreign words and its sounds.

The origin of this word is integer, a Latin word describing perfect, flawless status of something. If you are a person of integrity, you will behave based on moral principles, and no matter how difficult the situation is, you would not change. Whether somebody is looking at you, or nobody is looking at you, what you say and what you do is the same.

An illustrative sentence may be “My husband was a man of integrity.” - A part of speech during a funeral. The word “integrity” can in no way replaced with “compliance,” for example.

If something will be criticized when it becomes known, and you do not want to be criticized, so you do something to hide it, and by doing so, you will be criticized of doing so once it becomes known.

This is not acceptable behavior of CEOs with integrity. Whether a person has traits required for CEO needs to be discussed separately from criminal law implications of his/her past behavior. The preponderance of evidence is enough for the shareholders and board of directors to decide if a person should be asked to leave. They do not need to (and should not) require court judgment with beyond the reasonable doubt proof.

For dicussion about integrity and corporate DNA, please see "How to change your corporate DNA".

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