Every day as I gaze out the window of my apartment, I marvel at the beauty and splendor of Uhuru Park, a public lawn in Nairobi.
What fascinates me more is what the park symbolizes: a true testament to the triumph of integrity, ethics and justice.
I am reminded of the late Wangari Maathai, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and activist, whose relentless fight against corruption, impunity and injustice led to the conservation of Uhuru Park.
Because of her efforts, millions of Kenyans more than 20 years later are able to enjoy the green space that would have otherwise fallen into the hands of a few unscrupulous individuals.
In this blog post, I’ll share 10 ways being ethical can benefit your community, just as Wangari Maathai’s ethics and integrity made a huge impact on her society.
1. Fosters Cohesion
In my anti-corruption workshops, a theme that resonates with most young people is resentment.
This resentment stems from lost opportunities due to corruption, greed and injustice.
By being ethical, you ensure that everyone is treated fairly, cultivating unity and cohesion in your community.
2. Inspires Innovation
An ethical society provides a perfect environment for entrepreneurs and innovators to design new products and venture into new markets.
This is because resources that would otherwise be used to pay bribes can be channeled into the growth and operation of new and existing businesses.
3. Empowers Youth
Having interacted with many children over the course of my community empowerment work, I have come to realize that kids pick up most of their values from their environment.
By being ethical, we are planting a seed of integrity in our future generations that will bear the fruit of prosperity and sustainability in their communities.
4. Creates Jobs
Most young people are at a disadvantage in the job market when employers practice unethical behavior.
Ethical employers create a level playing field for the youth, enabling them to secure jobs and contribute to building their community.
5. Improves Lawmaking
A community is as strong as its judicial system.
By being ethical and maintaining the integrity of our judiciary, we ensure that everyone in the community, regardless of wealth and status, is protected and enjoys their rights and freedoms.
6. Improves Infrastructure
An ethical society ensures that money allocated to infrastructure projects — such as new roads, bridges and electricity — is effectively used.
This behavior not only propels the community forward but also attracts investments that can have a profound impact on the lives of local community members.
7. Strengthens Leadership
An ethical leader is greatly trusted in the community because the leader puts the interests of society before personal interests.
By being transparent and accountable, you can lead people in the community more effectively, inspiring new ideas in others.
8. Encourages Diversity
Diversity is the spice of life and a source of novel ideas and progress.
By being ethical, we are able to recognize the role of diversity in the community by embracing others who may be of a different tribe, religion or gender.
This creates harmony in society by acknowledging different values and perspectives.
9. Creates a Legacy
Being ethical can help to create a more positive image of the community.
This can bring in both domestic and foreign investment, which can be instrumental in transforming lives in your community.
Conversely, a reputation for unethical dealings hurts a community’s chances of attracting new investment.
10. Fights Poverty
Transparency and integrity ensure that resources are well utilized and that members of the community get access to health care, education and security.
An ethical society serves its members and provides the resources that will enable them to achieve today and in the years to come.
Khajira Christopher is an anti-corruption activist from Kenya and a recipient of Transparency International’s 2018 Future Against Corruption Award, which recognizes the efforts of young adults in the fight against corruption.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government. YALI Voices is a series of podcasts, videos and blog posts contributed by members of the YALI Network.