“Show of hands—who in this group has integrity?”
It’s with this direct and often uncomfortable question that Robert Chesnut, General Counsel of Airbnb, begins every presentation to new employees.
Defining integrity is difficult. Once understood as “telling the truth and keeping your word,” it was about following not just the letter but the spirit of the law. But in a moment when workplaces are becoming more diverse, global, and connected, silence about integrity creates ambiguities about right and wrong that make everyone uncertain, opening the door for the minority of people to rationalize selfish behavior. Trust in most traditional institutions is down—government, religious organizations, and higher education—and there’s a dark cloud hovering over technology. But this is precisely where companies come in; as peoples’ faith in establishments deteriorates, they’re turning to their employer for stability.
In Intentional Integrity, Chesnut offers a six-step process for leaders to foster and manage a culture of integrity at work. He explains the rationale and legal context for the ethics and practices, and presents scenarios to illuminate the nuances of thinking deeply and objectively about workplace culture.
We will always need governments to manage defense, infrastructure, and basic societal functions. But, Chesnut argues, the private sector has the responsibility to use sensitivity and flexibility to make broader progress—if they act with integrity.
"Stop talking about bringing your values to work and learn how to actually do it!"—Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor
“The ethical expectation for companies is wonderfully changing from 'do no evil' to 'do good.' Companies and their leaders need to put ethics and integrity at the center of their mission and culture. Rob is an insider who's combined doing good with doing business well in two iconic Silicon Valley companies. His book contains smart, practical advice for anyone looking to do good and do well.”—Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and author of Blitzscaling
"No one has wrestled with more difficult business integrity challenges over the last 20 years than Rob. His insights will instruct you how to drive integrity into your culture. Now, more than ever, we need someone to lead a constructive, direct conversation about integrity in business—Rob delivers."—Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi, former CEO of HP and eBay Inc.
"Rob and I were peers at Airbnb and together we helped build a culture and public-facing brand with integrity as a core value. Not only was the work strategically brilliant but under Rob's leadership, it was embedded into the very heart of the company. Rob brings creativity, empathy, credibility and a great sense of humor to this important topic—he makes ethics human and fun."—Jonathan Mildenhall, cofounder and CEO, TwentyFirstCenturyBrand
"Drawing on considerable experience with the nuances and circumstances of integrity violations at Airbnb, Chesnut offers plentiful examples of common integrity issues . . . He is especially good on such matters as enforcing consequences and handling situations involving violators who are high-performing employees. Valuable reading for companies that want to get serious about workplace ethics."—Kirkus Reviews
"This is the rare fully realized look at not just what integrity means in the context of business, but how to make it second nature in the workplace. Business leaders should take note."—Publishers Weekly
Reviews from Goodreads
Show of hands? A new approach to integrity
I look out over a room filled with about 50 new hires and throw out the question that always provokes uneasy laughter and side-eye glances.