The Importance of Integrity

Photographer Jeremy Cowart recently tweeted an article about a woman who ruined her career due to a lapse of integrity. You can read the full article here, but the basic summary is, Meagan Kunert who is a photographer herself, tried ramp up her business by "looking busy" on her own website. To do this, she stole photographs from other people in her field and portrayed them as her own. She did this for a while and it actually helped increase her clientele. One day, Meagan woke up to hundreds of texts, tweets, and voicemails from people who have discovered what she was doing. Terrible comments from people suggesting she take her own life for what she did and badmouthing her religion. It was on TV, in the newspapers and other photographers wrote about her terrible act of theft. Her career, and life were ruined. Even getting a job in a different field now is tainted as prospective employers Google her name. Meagan also proclaims herself to be a "Christian."

We've probably all been guilty of this, churches and people alike. You perform a Google image search, find an ideal photo to use in an upcoming series, and ignoring where it came from, use it on your website and mailers. This may seem like a harmless act, but the root of the issue is integrity.

Pervasive integrity breeds trust and loyalty in your staff, among your peers and from your clients. Many times integrity in the big things can be easy; I've never committed adultery, I haven't embezzled and I don't outright lie to people. But it's having integrity in the small things that makes a true leader and organization trustworthy.

Take the time to read Meagan's article about her experience. When integrity lapses even for a little while, it can create devastating effects. And with the advent of social media, no one can contain the "bad press" that comes after.  Also remember that once something is on the internet, no amount of deletion or clearing of files will make it go away. While there should be some forgiveness and grace shown to those who make mistakes, the internet doesn't forget.