Transparency In Business: A Free Benefit Your Employees Will Love 

 August 21, 2016

transparency in business

Much like the phrase suggests transparency in business is something that cannot be seen.

Its results, though, can be much more evident. Transparency in business is something that many managers talk about, but much fewer actually practice.


Business Transparency

Business transparency is defined as a “Lack of hidden agendas and conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making.”

This definition means all employees, and the company as a whole must be promoting and partaking in honest and open business decisions. Transparency requires a business to be accessible to both staff and customers.


Pros and Cons of a Transparent Business



Brand Loyalty
   Information may be distorted    or misunderstood
Customer Loyalty
   May slow organizational         processes
Greater Sense of Employee   Ownership
   May leave the organization open    for attack
   Improved Decision-Making
Greater Employee     Trust/Engagement
Better Company Alignment


Adopting Transparency

Becoming a transparent business is not something that can happen overnight. Rather, there are several methods a company can use to build their transparency.

transparency in business


Be Internally Transparent

Transparency in business must begin from the inside out. If your employees don’t think that the company is transparent, it will be much harder to convince customers that you’re transparent.

When first adapting internal transparency, your organization should start with sharing high-level financial information. After that you should begin to share:

— Forecasts

— Profit and Loss Statements

— Board Meeting Presentations

— Feedback on Company Performance


Be Personally Transparent

As a business, use a social medium (or two, or three) to share and discuss personal thoughts and ideas. You should be transparent to external stakeholders, such as customers. Social media allows you to interact with these customers and demonstrate your transparency.

transparency in business


Hire People You Trust

Hiring people you trust does not mean you should hire only your friends and family. Rather, it means you should use the interview process to gain a sense of trustworthiness from people and hire those you instinctively trust.

Hiring those you trust will make it easier to share information and responsibility throughout the organization.


Acknowledge Mistakes

Acknowledging mistakes, especially when it comes from an employee such as the CEO, goes a long way towards building a transparent workplace. When your CEO recognizes he/she was wrong, it emphasizes that it’s okay to be mistaken, sometimes.

It is important to identify when you’re wrong and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. If you acknowledge mistakes, it prevents people from attempting to hide from or cover up them up.


3 Examples of Large Companies With High Business Transparency

1. Whole Foods


Whole Foods is working on becoming the first national grocery chain that offers full GMO (genetically modified organisms) transparency for its products. The company is committing to this transparency in hopes that it builds consumer trust and encourages industry-wide transparency.


2. Zappos

zappos office

In their core values, Zappos includes the commitment to, “Build open and honest relationships with communication.” They have demonstrated this commitment through their business practices. Zappos created their own extranet to share information with their company’s vendors.


3. Patagonia


Patagonia demonstrates its transparency through its supply chain. The company takes a proactive approach to information regarding its suppliers. It allows customers to view information regarding each step of its supply chain.


The Wrap

Transparency in business means making your company open, honest, and cooperative. Improved transparency can result in building customer loyalty, a greater sense of employee ownership, greater employee engagement, and better company alignment.

Companies such as Whole Foods, Zappos, and Patagonia have shown that transparency can be part of a large, successful business. When deciding whether to adopt business transparency or not, the choice is apparent.