“It is sometimes called the Church’s ‘best kept secret’–not because the Church hides it, but because Catholics ‘from benches’ generally learn their faith from Sunday sermons rather than by reading papal texts”–read excerpts from Brian England’s book Should the First Million Be Stealed? Practical application of Christian values in business.
Integrity means that any component of something is compatible with each of the other components. When faced with an ethical problem, integrity responds appropriately — not just once, but every time. A company characterized by integrity consistently applies ethical principles in all areas of its activity. Wherever we look – in marketing, sales, service, production, accounting or finance – the dominant ethical control is complete and operating effectively.
If your company is ethical in one area, but not all, it is not an ethical organization. If your company is ethical ninety-eight percent of the time but ignores the other two percent because “no one is perfect,” then it is not an ethical organization. Think about this statement. It’s easier to follow the rule one hundred percent of the time than to allow the occasional exception. When we allow occasional exceptions, it suddenly becomes very difficult to draw a line between true and false. “Oh there, we made that exception recently and nothing happened. Then we can do it again.” The standard soon becomes an elusive ideal rather than a requirement, and the organization becomes too lax on itself. However, an integrated approach to ethics is about more than consistency. Integrity begins with natural law, incorporates certain cardinal virtues in business, and adds important principles contained in Catholic Social Teaching (KNS) – the ultimate papal interpretation of faith and reason applied to human relationships. The KNS is based on the peak achievements of the ideas of saints and scholars who have analyzed the human condition over the centuries. It reflects universal and timeless realities, at the same time modern and contemporary and backed by empirical research. Integrity requires that everyone in the organization adhere to the same principles of ethical decision-making. In this way, doing the right things is woven into the entire organisation.
Integrity begins with natural law, incorporates some basic business virtues, and adds important principles to Catholic social teaching.
Catholic social teaching also reflects the fact that the Catholic Church has often tried to be a guide on various topics of interest through the publication of pamphlets. These documents are intended for wide dissemination and are aimed at people of all faiths and beliefs. They represent the best achievements of the church’s ideas of how people respond to social challenges, and the solutions they propose are consistent with the gospel message.
The General Letters are the principal educational documents endorsed by the papal authority; They present science and ethical guidelines that bring together the work of the best theologians, philosophers, and scholars. On the website of the Vatican you can find the texts of numerous publications, many of which deal with social issues.
Catholic social education is based on natural law and the ethics of virtue. It is a pity that many people, including Catholics, do not know and understand the basic facts of KNS. It is sometimes called the “best mysteries of the Church” – not least because the church hides it, but because Catholics “from church benches” generally learn their faith from Sunday sermons rather than by reading papal texts.
However, when Bible-inspired Christians encounter the principles of the KNS, they usually endorse them because they see the biblical relationship between each of these principles. (…).
The Church’s doctrine consists of the following four principles that define its general direction and focus: human dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity, and the common good. Let’s look at a brief summary of it and see how it is applied in practice in business operations.
- Human dignity, or the “people first” principle. It recognizes that men and women are uniquely created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore are endowed with transcendent dignity. This dignity requires that the individual’s well-being be a top priority in everything we do. Productive work must be organized to employ people in purposeful activities, to produce products of real value, and to develop the body, mind and spirit of the employees. Pope John XXIII taught that “if in the production process an organizational system and such technical devices are used which make the performance of the same work offends human dignity or weakens the sense of responsibility, or ultimately takes away the ability to take initiative, we consider such an economic system unjust” Even when it allows a great efficiency of production and distribution of the goods produced in accordance with the requirements of justice and equity.”
- Solidarity, or the principle of “teamwork”. It is a reflection of the social nature written in the human person, and indicates that only in relationships with others – in family, work or society – do we fully develop our personal potential. We are committed to working with the people around us, and like any good team player, we have a responsibility to help other team members improve their game so the whole team can do well. It means extending a helping hand to anyone in need or a problem. And since every human is a member of Team Earth, companies have a duty to help those on hand who have special needs or might be left behind for some reason.
- Subsidiarity (dependency), or the principle of “personal responsibility”It is rooted in the belief that the full development of human beings requires the comprehensive use of their personal abilities, intelligence and initiative. However, this rule applies to all actors in society, including the family, the church, the community, the state and the nation. Each entity has its own area of responsibility, smaller or larger, over which it exercises control. Other entities shall not interfere within the scope of this control, unless the previous entity requests assistance. According to Pope Benedict, “A society that respects the principle of subsidiarity frees people from despondency and despair by giving them the freedom to engage together in commercial activities, politics and culture. The principle of subsidiarity goes beyond what we usually understand by delegation. The person who delegates it entrusts power for a period of time and can take it at any time The authority is permanently in the hands of the inferior entity. It cannot be taken away. When subordination is appropriate implemented, and employees – trusted and trained – know exactly what they are responsible for and are free to make good decisions., and in which way they operate.
- The common good, or the principle of “the prosperity of humanity”It promotes conditions in which all individuals and groups achieve their satisfaction to a greater degree and more easily. We are not talking about some utilitarian summarization where each individual’s performance level is added up and goes to the total. Rather, the rule of the common good represents what is appropriate for each of us: it is the collective dimension of the moral good.
Everyone has noted the subtle tension between the four principles, especially between human dignity and the common good, and between solidarity and solidarity. Integrity requires a balance between these two pairs.
Of course, we always think of people first, but we do so in a way that is geared towards the enduring legacy of our activities in society. It is true that we always support our team members, but in a way that does not diminish their individual responsibility and authority.
I assure you that all four principles of integrity are very practical. It is based on human nature and has been tested through centuries of experience. When companies treat people with dignity, when they promote teamwork in the office, when they organize themselves optimally for personal responsibility, and when they have a strong interest in the common good, success comes. These rules are very realistic.
Excerpt from Brian England’s Should the First Million Be Stealed? Practical Application of Christian Values in Business.