When no one else is looking, do you uphold core values?

  • Published
  • By Susan M. Daylong
  • Hill AFB Inspector General
The United States "Air Force Core Values" -- we've all heard them many times over and the majority of us live by them day in and day out -- have you said them out loud to yourself? Ok, I'm not asking that you start talking to yourselves daily, but as I read the Washington Times a story jumped out at me, "SEC workers investigated for porn-surfing." I thought to myself, "I wonder if any of the two dozen SEC employees and contractors who are facing an internal Inspector General Investigation stated 'Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do' out loud to themselves prior to surfing the Internet."

The inspector general found that during a 17-day period, about 1,880 "access denials" occurred wherein the computer system blocked attempts to view Web sites that were deemed pornographic. That's 110 times each day for 17 days in which attempts to access unauthorized sites occurred; 110 times each day for 17 days any one of those employees could have, and should have stated out loud, "Integrity First, Service before Self and Excellence in All We Do."

Do you think those employees started each day thinking to themselves, "I will not work to have integrity?" I would certainly hope not. So the question begs where did these employees fail to gain integrity and how can we, as their Wingmen, promote integrity in the workplace?

Many believe that integrity is something that is instilled in you, throughout the course of your life -- your parents, siblings and grandparents are probably the first people who impacted your integrity. If your family members valued or failed to value integrity, that trait most likely would have been passed on to you. Fortunately integrity can be gained over time regardless of what you learned in your early years. As Wingmen we can all encourage and promote honesty in our work environment. We have the right to demand a zero tolerance for fraud, waste or abuse, and we have the right to demand honesty and accountability.

I recall when my daughter was in grade school and she wanted to play with kids that were, in my eyes, not the best "choice" of friends for her to hang with. I was attempting to steer her in the right direction -- to act as her moral compass until a time that I felt she was old enough to be true to herself. By allowing others to determine what we think, feel, say and do means that we will become them. "To thine own self be true" is a must to be capable of acting on conviction and controlling impulses and appetites.

What does integrity mean to you? The dictionary states that it is "firm adherence to a code or standard of values" and our Air Force Core Values tell us that "Integrity is a character trait -- the willingness to do what is right even when no one is looking." To me it means being true to myself, my values in God, my responsibility as an employee and my faith in the Air Force system.