Acting with Integrity in Nutshell

Dr. Chandana Jayalath
DSc, MSc, PG Dip(Cons Mgt), PG Dip(Int’l Med), BSc (QS) Hons, FRICS, AAIQS, AIQS (SL)


Quantity Surveyors shall always act in such a manner so as to uphold and enhance the honour, integrity and dignity of the profession while safeguarding public interest(s) at all times. Amongst the general responsibilities, the members shall maintain a high professional standards, be of good fame, integrity and character. They are expected to conduct their profession in a manner neither derogatory to their professional character nor likely to lessen the confidence of the public and in the institute they belong to.

While difficult to define in concrete terms, ordinary discourse about integrity involves two fundamental intuitions: first, that integrity is primarily a formal relation one has to oneself, or between parts or aspects of one’s self; and second, that integrity is connected in an important way to acting morally, in other words, there are some substantive or nonnative constraints on what it is to act with integrity.

The word “integrity” stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. Integrity is a matter of persons integrating various parts of their personality into a harmonious, intact whole. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold. Integrity is therefore a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes.

An individual is said to possess the virtue of integrity if the individual’s actions are based upon an internally consistent framework of principles. These principles should uniformly adhere to sound logical axioms or postulates. One can describe a person as having ethical integrity to the extent that the individual’s actions, beliefs, methods, measures and principles all derive from a single core group of values. An individual must therefore be flexible and willing to adjust these values in order to maintain consistency when these values are challenged; such as when an expected result fails to be congruent with all observed outcomes. Because such flexibility is a form of accountability, it is regarded as a moral responsibility as well.

The principle here is that the professional should endeavor by its behavior to merit the highest esteem of the community. Serving with honour, dignity and integrity, Quantity surveyors shall comply with relevant laws and avoid legal action that may bring professional into disrepute. They are obliged to be aware of their legal obligations and ensure that they and their employees comply fully with the statutory obligations and all future relevant legislation.

Acting without integrity, even occasionally, will leave others distrustful. Therefore, quantity surveyors may need to assess potential actions in terms of threats to adherence to those principles and, where necessary, to apply safeguards or refrain from the activity. This is the approach advocated by many professional bodies. It offers numerous advantages over a detailed rules-based approach. For example, it allows for the almost infinite variations in circumstances that arise in practice and prevents the use of legalistic devices to avoid adhering to the spirit of the guidance. The combination of rigor and flexibility of this approach is the most satisfactory way of ensuring that ethical requirements are observed.

Quantity surveyors should not only behave with integrity but be seen to do so. That is, facts and circumstances should be avoided as much as possible where a reasonable and informed third party would question the quantity surveyor’s integrity. It follows that a quantity surveyors’ advice and work should be uncorrupted by self-interest or other financial or behavioral motives and should not be influenced by the interests of other parties. Quantity surveyors must show allegiance to what is right and conform to the standards of conduct, and show true worth and exhibit diplomacy and charisma in all dealings. A classic example is negotiation viewed either as a matter of cooperating to create value, or as a matter of competing to claim values. In the value-creating view, negotiators work primarily to increase the available resources, find joint gains wherein all the parties will benefit. Negotiators must act cooperatively and successful negotiators are open and creative. They share information, communicate clearly, maintain a cooperative attitude and focus on developing common interests. This is possible only when the quantity surveyor does not take any side off fraudulent or dishonest nature.

In nutshell, integrity is the virtue of practicing what one preaches. Or more importantly, practicing what one believes is right. A ‘man of principle’ is not a man who understands a principle, but a man who understands, accepts, and lives by a principle. Integrity is the cornerstone of professional behavior. Without it, the profession will lose credibility.