Take a moment to think about what the word “integrity” means to you.
You might discover that integrity is one of those words you feel like you understand but find difficult to clearly explain. So let’s turn to the dictionary for help. Merriam-Webster defines integrity as “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values”. We especially like the second definition given in this entry: “incorruptibility”. So, put simply, a person or institution that has integrity is incapable of being corrupted or led astray from its moral or ethical code.
If you know someone who you believe to have integrity, then you probably think very highly of this person. You probably trust that they will always do what’s right, even when it’s hard. You might even turn to them when you need advice about a difficult situation in life.
At Cummins, integrity is one of the core values that guides our organization and our employees. We strive for integrity in everything we do. All of our actions and decisions are characterized by honesty and adherence to our ethical standards. We are each personally vigilant in the effort to sustain the highest levels of principled behavior.
To explain what this means in practice, we spoke with four members of our staff who embody integrity in their work: Lee Power, Information Systems Database Analyst; Casey Ray and Christina Kerns, Outpatient Therapists, and Rebecca Bradford, Outpatient Team Lead for Marion County.
In this post, they explain what integrity means to them, why it matters in behavioral health care, and how they uphold Cummins’ commitment to integrity in their daily work.
What Does Integrity Mean at Cummins?
As we discussed above, integrity is a word that can be tricky to define. We know that it has to do with upholding your moral and ethical standards, but what does that mean in the context of behavioral health care?
Everyone we spoke to agreed that a large part of integrity involves doing the right thing even when it’s difficult. Casey explains, “Having integrity means being internally motivated to do what is right simply because it is right. Maintaining integrity often means that you are doing the right thing despite it not being the easiest option.”
Sometimes the “right” choice can be determined without specific knowledge or training on a certain topic. But in the behavioral health field, this can also mean adhering to legal and ethical guidelines associated with providing treatment to others. For example, Christina mentions the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics as one thing that guides her practice at Cummins.
Lee makes the insightful observation that integrity doesn’t mean doing what’s right just some of the time, but every time. “For me, integrity means that I always need to have a consistent character, even when a compromising situation is available,” he says. This includes avoiding shortcuts that might compromise the ethical standards of our work even though they would lesson our personal burden.
Finally, integrity requires that we recognize when we’ve failed to do the right thing and take actions to correct our behavior in the future. “Integrity means living your values, being accountable to those values, and being honest with yourself and others when you are not living those values,” Rebecca explains.
Why Integrity Matters in Behavioral Health Care
Integrity is very important in behavioral health care because of the relationship between our organization and our consumers.
As recipients of care, our consumers place a great deal of trust in our organization when they come to us for services. We have a tremendous responsibility to help them the best that we can. Christina speaks to this responsibility when she says, “Integrity is important because it influences our daily decisions that impact our consumers, communities, and the profession.”
However, integrity is also important in other ways. For example, Christina believes that integrity aids in her ability to build authentic, trusting relationships with the individuals whom she serves. Casey agrees, adding, “Our clients count on us to be honest and consistent in our work. Without this, a good therapeutic relationship would be impossible.”
Lee also notes that integrity goes hand-in-hand with consistency and reliability. “I believe integrity is important in my position at Cummins because it allows me to be more reliable and easier to work with than those who don’t possess this important character trait,” he says. When we are committed to certain guiding principles, others can rely on us to consistently deliver high-quality of work, which naturally increases their trust in us.
Living with integrity means staying in alignment with our personal values, but it also means respecting the values of others. After all, most of us would agree that treating other people with respect and dignity—even when they are different from us—is always the right thing to do. Rebecca explains, “Integrity is important in my position because I not only need to be accountable to my values, but also acknowledge and respect the values of the consumer, provider, staff, etc., especially when they are different from my own.”
How Our Team Members Show Integrity in their Work
Our staff upholds Cummins’ commitment to integrity in many ways, both great and small, in their day-to-day work.
For example, Lee believes he displays integrity in his work by “telling the truth, not publicizing negativity, offering respect to every colleague, being forthcoming with important information, giving credit where it’s due, valuing diversity, collaborating, not competing, and being accountable.”
Rebecca once again emphasizes the importance of doing what’s right, not what’s easy, as a way of showing integrity in her work. “I believe I display integrity by doing what I believe to be right even when it is not easy or popular,” she says. “I am honest about my mistakes and missteps and try to make it right when I am able. I speak out when I see an injustice.”
In her work with consumers, Christina exercises integrity by building therapeutic relationships based on trust and respect. She explains, “I make sure to provide a supportive atmosphere where consumers are comfortable speaking honestly, knowing that they have a chance to be heard and their opinions honored. This is important because our consumers are highly vulnerable, and to earn their trust, a clinician must focus on their personal growth to encourage self-sufficiency.”
Although care providers must always respect their consumers’ beliefs and desires, they sometimes need to persuade consumers to do what’s right for their treatment even though it is difficult. This is yet another way they act with integrity in their work.
“My integrity has made a difference in instances where I followed ethical and procedural guidelines despite this being difficult and upsetting for clients in the moment,” Casey explains. “I have had clients come back to me later and thank me for following the ‘rules’ or doing what I said I would, as it helped hold them accountable and aided in their recovery—even if they didn’t recognize it right away.”
Integrity is an essential characteristic of any organization that provides behavioral health care to its community. Integrity demands that ethical standards are followed, consumers are treated with respect, and an emphasis is placed on doing what is right instead of what is easy. In essence, integrity is the moral compass that guides the organization, which is exactly why integrity is one of our core values at Cummins.
We would like to thank Lee Power, Casey Ray, Christina Kerns and Rebecca Bradford for explaining what integrity means and how they live it out each day. Your commitment to integrity sets a model for all of us to follow!
If you enjoyed this blog post about integrity at Cummins, then you might enjoy reading about our other organizational values below!