Updated: Jan 29
Is transparency a buzzword, a culture, a requirement? No, it is just the right thing to do.
What does the word transparency mean to you? Is it a buzzword used to market a company? Is it the culture of the company? Is it required through the regulations governing the business? Or is it something a company does because it is the right thing to do?
The idea of exposing the internal operations, structures and even the culture of a company can be a scary thing. In an instant gratification economy such as ours, where brand perception can often trump the quality of the good or service being sold, it might be troubling to consider the potential fallout once customers become aware of the amount of time and money that is spent investing in the perception of a product, rather than the product itself.
This should be a call to action, not a reason to be more reclusive. View this as an opportunity to reallocate resources in a way that creates increased value for customers and communities, which in turn will yield increased profitability and long-term sustainability for the company. And whether you are a solo operation, own a small business, or help run a large multinational corporation, a few guidelines apply universally in efforts to increase business transparency.
“People can smell you-know-what from a mile away, so do not decorate your transparency initiative with needless fluff”
People can smell you-know-what from a mile away, so do not decorate your transparency initiative with needless fluff that will at best distract from your message or worse, cause direct harm to it. This means talking about what you know and being who you really are as a company and as an individual. It is just as important to be viewed as a person with a lot of talented resources as it is to be viewed as an expert. Make sure that those who encounter your business know the people who run it. Instead of the overused stock photos, professional actors, and paid referrals, give people a real glimpse of who you are and who provides the goods or services.
If it is relevant to what you do, the people affected have a right to know. All too often, critical details of how a company operates are divulged on a “need to know” basis. However, as soon as one of those details becomes public knowledge, that business’s reputation and the reputation of the people running it are compromised.
When something is wrong, do not wait until you have to react to someone else pointing it out. Get in front of the issue and make sure that the people that have entrusted your business know you are doing all you can to resolve it. The longer you leave people hanging, the more likely they are to think the worst.