Being Honest In Kenya Is Rarely Rewarded And Can Be Dangerous. However Without Integrity Nothing Works.

Being honest and more so a person of integrity is a virtue that should be cultivated by all. I dare say that without Integrity nothing works. A car without integrity will not take you from point A to Point B; A building without integrity will tumble down; You sit on a chair that has no integrity and you will definitely fall down.

Customers believe and trust organizations that exercise integrity.  Their brands have integrity and will do what they are supposed to do. How would you feel if you bought a detergent that does not work?  What kind of graduates would an institution produce if there is a lack of integrity in learning and examining?

I worked in the private sector for many years and I remember one of my bosses telling me he was giving me the job because I was brutally honest. He further added that it is unfortunate that people who are honest in Kenya suffer a lot. I am reminded of a government job advertisement that many qualified Kenyans applied for but those that were published in the dailies as shortlisted were associated with politicians and who is who in Kenya.  It was said by many that the names were already decided and that interviews were a formality. Looking back I think this may have been true after all.

In the recent past, we have seen IEBC workers lose their lives in unclear circumstances. It is believed the likes of Musando and Musyoka may have lost their lives because they refused to be compromised. The election cases we are experiencing today could be due to a lack of integrity either of the process or of the employees. Imagine the millions if not billions of shillings we are wasting for lack of integrity.

Whereas social capital is important, it is unethical to employ your friend who is not as qualified when you have other qualified applicants. It is true at times qualifying candidates are decided outside the interview room; business deals may be decided at the golf club but there must be integrity in the entire system for fairness.

We have in the recent past seen buildings coming down, and roads that are newly constructed with potholes, and this could be attributed to a lack of honesty. Why would one risk losing millions by taking shortcuts while building? why would an engineer sign off a road they know does not meet requirements? Why would a student not attend class and cheat in examinations or why would a lecturer not teach as required?

It is sad that even in organizations honest employees are rarely celebrated and at times are eliminated or avoided. Most bosses prefer employees who have sycophantic tendencies or the Yes Sir type. Honest people are more often than not considered fools, especially if in positions of authority.  Few understand why a person in authority is not cutting deals and enriching themselves.

If each one of us in our small way was honest and exercised integrity, we would save time and resources and the world would be a great place to live in. Endeavor from today to be an honest person and exercise integrity in all your dealings. It is worth it!

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Dr. Mary Mugo
Strategy, Governance, and Management Consultant.





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