Isn’t Transparency very closely related to Honesty – or is it that Transparency goes a little bit further allowing others to actually see that you are Honest…
Is the call for Transparency maybe a result of too much dishonesty…
Regardless – If you are Honest, I believe there is no real problem with Transparency at all.
Instead, Transparency might be the very thing, helping us to transform into a Sustainable society.
- Transparency promotes evolution and prosperity
- Transparency promotes equality and fairness!
- Transparency promotes quality and good solutions
I could probably line up quite a few more positive effects from Transparency, but let’s start with these.
Evolution and Prosperity
Ever since Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book “On the Origin of Species”, scientists have again and again proved that good properties interacts to secure the evolution and prosperity. The reason is quite simple – because to win you have to be better!
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”– Charles Darwin
It works pretty much the same within business, good practice wins over poor.
But how do you know that you have a good practice if everybody hides theirs?
How should companies cooperate to find solutions if they refuse to reveal anything about their practice?
On the other hand if your business is transparent a good practice might be copied and maybe even updated to an even better practice by someone else – is that theft, or is it positive evolution – next time, when you see the other company’s improvement you can update yours…and maybe even improve it…
Let’s face it, very little in most products and services is that unique, and if it is, it’s most likely already patented.
Equality and fairness
More and more often I hear things like “If I really knew that the farmer could earn a little extra so that he could afford to go 100% Ecological or that people working in the textile business in Bangladesh could have a safe environment and decent wages, I would gladly pay a little extra”.
But people are so discouraged by reports showing all kinds of misconduct, dishonesty and greed happening in the supply-chains that many actually have resigned…
Just take a look at some of the most recent reports: Corporations launches all kinds of charity-projects (of their choice) for poor people while at the same time failing to pay liveable wages to their own employees. Corporations boast that they are supporting equal human rights, but at the same time refuse to cooperate in projects to ensure more safety in the textile-business, because of fear of litigation…
In a more transparent business the customer can “reward” companies that have equal and fair practice. If you want that the farmer should earn a little more buy the product from a company that have that kind of set-up, if you instead want the executives to have a higher bonus – buy it from that company. This is nothing “weird” – take a look at the Fairtrade organisation
Quality and good solutions
In a secretive business the customers or clients have to trust the company when they say that they deliver good quality and good solutions. This is not a big problem if you are dealing with an honest company.
But of course – what good quality really is, the company decides on your behalf, even if they are honest.
Mainly due to the fact that honesty couldn’t always be guaranteed, a number of certification schemes such as ISO 9000 have emerged. However, most of these systems focus on the company’s methods and practices and very little on the product itself – so what good quality really is, and how it is achieved is still up to the company.
In fact even a drug-dealer could probably* certify according to ISO 9000, since it is mainly about routines and procedures, not product. (*There would probably be an issue with written documentation…)
In the building industry, quality and solutions has been an issue for many, many years, even after the introduction of schemes like ISO9000, and it is today one major reason that certification schemes like BREEAM, LEED and Miljöbyggnad (Swedish system) are entering the market – these systems use a third party to check and guarantee that the Product (the building that you actually pay for) meets set standards.
These product certification schemes put strong demands on the building industry to openly show details about design, products and methods used, testing and commissioning etc – which, although it is still only in the beginning, has already revealed quite a lot of “opportunities for improvement”…
But still most corporations often wants to keep quality and solutions as an internal affair, because they know best – “I wonder why” – but, as long as they do what they say and deliver – Lasagne with meat instead of horse-meat, make sure that my clothes are not sewn by an underpaid child in some shanty-town and promise that the milk my childrens drink is free from arsenic – I suppose transparency is not needed… one tricky thing though; if they are certified according to ISO9000 – that would guarantee that they continuously use their standard practice… [sarcasm]
A Culture based on dishonesty…
Why do so many business executives become “defensive” when transparency is mentioned? Have the human society evolved to a culture where dishonesty is the “norm”?
Is every “successful” business transaction based on the fact that someone gets “cheated”…
If that is the reality – why is it OK – Why is cheating so rewarded in our culture?
Athletes that use Steroids or EPO (and get caught) are suspended for a period or sometimes for life. At the same time they earn great disrespect and abomination from most people.
Corporations that cheat, cause harm or don’t reveal the whole truth might get some bad articles in the news – but they are very seldom* banned from the business and after some moments in the “heat” most people “shrug their shoulders” and just let it pass…
(*/ sometimes they even sue the government because they apparently have been “unfairly banned” from obtaining contracts… “Ludicrous”)
Transparency and Sustainability
Transforming our society to a sustainable setup is not an easy task – due to many years of neglect to address the issue it is also very urgent.
And, to be frank, most of us don’t have a clue about all the details included in “being sustainable”. Some details are probably not even on the agenda yet.
So we will have to invent stuff and discuss and change again along the way.
The more Transparent and cooperative we can get this process the quicker we will get there.
Although competition often is a good trigger for change and developing a “secret” way to be sustainable maybe could earn a company market-shares, this time it is different – There is no point being sustainable all by yourself – if everybody else isn’t we’ll be “fried” anyway…
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”– African proverb
Transparency and Honesty
Two of the most important “things” for the Future!