Businesses are simply not the faceless entities that they used to be.
It’s a concept that many corporate leaders are still catching up on; for decades, when it came to the workings of a company, the phrase “need-to-know basis” was tossed around liberally. But in a modern era that boasts an unprecedented level of access to information, the corporate transparency movement has gained a significant amount of momentum. Between the importance of social media in reaching out to audiences, a new emphasis on corporate values, and the idea of a CEO that is active in representing a company, it is more important than ever for businesses to work towards these new ideals.
In September, the B Team’s Sharan Burrow moderated an event at the Concordia Summit entitled “Toward A New Trust,” with the central theme of combating corruption through transparency. Burrow spoke about the importance of trust in both societies and businesses in a society where faith in both is lower than ever before.
Fortunately, many businesses and governments are stepping up. Toward A New Trust highlighted the efforts of Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and how his efforts to get his country involved in anti-corruption commitments have led to an improved economy.
Now, most business owners will not be able to have any significant impact on their country’s levels of corruption, but all can work to improve themselves and set an example for other professionals to follow. Plus, there’s evidence that, when a business takes measures to make itself more trustworthy, profits are soon to follow.
This is partially a matter of practicality. When a business is transparent about its finances, it signals to investors that they will be able to reliably gain a sense of its standing and therefore evaluate success going forward. With investors, it’s all about managing risk, and releasing numbers such as earnings makes your company more appealing if it is doing well. Expect the modern investor to seek out businesses that they are able to obtain more information on.
On the front end side of affairs, involving consumers and/or customers in a business’s affairs builds loyalty and makes them happier. Strive to live by your company’s values and promote them when interacting with consumers. Any business can do this by increasing and improving customer engagement touchpoints; if they’re able to voice feedback and involve themselves in what your business does, they’re more likely to be satisfied with the products or services that they receive.
Social media plays an important role in practicing good consumer engagement. By giving visitors to social media platforms the chance to voice their opinions, you organically create a forum dedicated to finding and rectifying issues. You can even consider running a contest or giveaway over social media to improve engagement! However, bear in mind that transparency is something that should always be practiced; too many companies believe it to be a tool used only for damage control.
Participants at the Toward A New Trust Event spoke about other ways to use transparency to fight corporate corruption, including partnerships dedicated to promoting corporate trust and publishing company tax practices. However, perhaps the best step any business can take is to research other trust practices and talk with employees and stakeholders the best ways to improve open communications.
The best part about transparency is how attainable of a goal it is. Join the opposition against corruption and work toward making your business and world a little more open. It will benefit us all.