This is part two of a series on Transparency. Read part one.
Every Monday morning at 9 am, the entire staff meets for a general meeting.
Not just administration, but everyone in the organization.
The meeting generally lasts for an hour. The President shares new information, events, happenings, from the past week, and lays out upcoming news pertinent to the growth of the organization. Everyone is allowed to ask questions, make announcements of interest to anyone. A sense of transparency and openness is as routine as the Monday morning coffee.
In theory and practice, transparency is the new word for truthfulness.
Transparency in our organization, a young university, sets a precedence for accountability. What have I done today to move the organization forward in its mission? I am held accountable for my actions, or lack of actions especially since I have now shared with my colleagues what my calendar holds?
At Claremont Lincoln University, we consistently remain transparent in our values, our actions and our outcomes. We teach by the golden rule; We expect students to take individual responsibility to make the world a better place; and We consistently seek new ways to make education better.
While nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit have wrestled with how much and what kind of information satisfies transparency, we see this playing out in the US political climate today. In The Economist blog, transparency is made explicit:
Our mothers told us that lying is a bad thing; what we now call transparency is merely the embodiment of that advice. But just sharing ever more information will not save society from business malpractice and corporate psychopaths…. Customers and governments are not interested in more information, more numbers, more reports or more sophisticated press briefings. What civil society is seeking is trustworthy, relevant and understandable information about how a company runs its business and the features of the products and services it offers to the market.
What are some companies that make transparency their reality?
Here are just a few companies who apply transparency in their business practices.
- In 2004, the founder and CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, sent an email to his entire staff. In short, he told the employees to each write him an email and describe what the company culture meant to them. He in turn would compile all the emails, unedited, into a book which would be shared with new employees. A new edition of The Zappos Culture book has been printed each year.
- The founder of Molding Box doesn’t hide the fact that he believes people deserve a second chance. He hires ex-cons.
- Jason Fried of 37signals, now Basecamp 3, believes transparency succeeds only when it is demonstrated internally as well as externally. He shares the company financials, customers grievances.
- UPS, known for its global logistics in business, uses its expertise in the field of disaster relief by delivering emergency supplies to needed victims.
- The medical technology company Becton Dickinson, designed needle-less intravenous devices as a way of protecting health workers from contracting HIV.
Transparency makes good business sense.
In each of these examples, reducing negative impact on society and environment, has increased business sales. In today’s society and in today’s socioeconomic climate, it’s important for businesses to exhibit transparency in their organization, especially as some of the largest companies are now coming under fire for their lack of transparency, such as Facebook.
As Hseih wrote: “In an age of transparency, when Twitter can contribute to a company’s success or its downfall, is there anything more compelling than exposing your company’s DNA to the world?”