Transparency. We generally understand what this means in the products we purchase and use. Federal regulations require manufacturers to include a plethora of details regarding the ingredients and nutritional levels of the foods we eat. Clothing has fabric content and washing instructions clearly listed. However, transparency in business still seems to be comparatively new.

Consumers have easy access to information about where their products are sourced and how they are made. Yet organizations don’t always seem to fully understand the business services they outsource. What are vendors really providing in exchange for the fees charged?

Job candidates are frequently confused about compensation levels and position details in job listings. Perhaps even more alarming is that too few employees fully know what the companies they work for value, how they handle change, make decisions, or are weathering the multitude of economic impacts leadership is facing.

Business customers and employees know they want it. Even better is that the majority of organizations want to provide transparency. So why the gap? Perhaps the better question is what does (and should) transparency in business look like? And why does it matter?

Keep reading as we unpack these questions and share what transparency means to us.

Why Transparency Matters

Let’s start by exploring what this phrase means, why transparency in business matters, and to who. In a word, transparency describes the ability for light to penetrate through something. There is clarity to what you are seeing or observing. In a business context, it means that an organization allows visibility into its operations, methodology, performance, history, and values.

The question of how much transparency a business should reveal and where has been debated over the years. However, the consensus — which not only remains but is growing — is that more is better.

Transparency builds trust with customers

Transparency in business builds trust because it increases understanding and provides a greater degree of accountability. By removing a veil of secrecy, organizations can also alleviate doubt and quell most rumors before they begin. All benefits that far outweigh any risk of vulnerability to competitors.

In Edelman’s 2021 Report on Brand Trust, sixty-eight percent of respondents said it was more important for them to be able to trust the brands they buy and use than in the past. Forty percent said they would give up a brand they loved if they no longer trusted them. Trust is no longer limited to just a specific product or service either. It must be earned and supported by the companies behind them, as well as the employees who work there.

Transparency attracts and retains talent

Businesses are quickly learning that it isn’t just their customer and client base they need to satisfy. Their employees, both current and prospective, have expectations as well that increased transparency can support.

From a human talent perspective, transparency in business enhances company culture, increases employee engagement, attracts top talent, and improves communication. Oh, and don’t forget that strengthening brand perception is valuable to this audience as well.

Pause for a moment here. Businesses are facing two big challenges now: finding great talent and keeping the top talent they already have. Transparency can help with both. However, it needs to be expressed at all levels of management.

Businesses need to work harder than before to attract quality talent. Being transparent in a well-crafted employee value proposition will clearly define your culture, opportunity, and benefits for joining your organization. Openness establishes the needed credibility to differentiate your business from your competition — which is nearly every other hiring company right now.

On the other hand, there are three primary reasons cited for employee turnover.

  1. Uncertainty about career progression and development

  2. Lack of trust in management or the organization

  3. Ambiguous and vague business practices

The Work Institutes 2021 Retention Report may have said it best. “Employees don’t leave managers. Employees leave managers AND organizations.”

They also added this important reminder. “Managers not only manage the day-to-day activities of employees, but they also steward the company mission, vision, and values that employees want to be aligned with and understand.”

Transparency in business allows customers and employees to clearly understand who you are and why they should partner with you.

What Transparency in Business Looks Like

Being a transparent business isn’t as challenging as you may think. It’s just a matter of thinking and acting with authentic intent toward your key stakeholders.

For your customers/clients

Transparency to your customers or clients means making fair decisions, acting with integrity, and communicating proactively.

  • Provide detailed explanations of your systems and processes along with the purpose they serve

  • Share real-time updates on the progress or delay of current projects.

  • Present information and content in a way that is easy to access and understand.

  • Acknowledge mistakes and offer meaningful solutions.

  • Remain consistent in your messaging across all channels and departments

Transparency in business does not mean you need to reveal proprietary information, unique processes, or specific applications. Your goal is to build confidence in your customers as a reliable source and trustworthy partner, not an industry of copycat vendors.

For your employees

Your employees, both current and prospective, want transparency in business to be reflected in honesty about the organization, open communication from leadership, and clarity around their future.

Job candidates desire:

  • Clearly stated salary ranges, requirements, and responsibilities of open positions

  • A defined hiring process that includes the next steps and a realistic timeline

  • Helpful reasons why there were excluded if they are no longer being considered

New employees need:

  • Access to information and training

  • Information that specifically lays out their onboarding process

  • Clarity around expectations for responsibilities and deliverables

  • Understanding as they make the transition into your organization

Current team members want:

  • Regular updates regarding the status of the business

  • Insight into decisions that impact their livelihood

  • Outlined career growth opportunities

  • Informative feedback on their work performance and progression

  • Management to be available and honest

Regardless of where your employees are in their tenure with your organization, transparency in business for them does not mean brutal or callus honesty, open access to their performance evaluations, disclosed personal information, or having private conversations indiscriminately shared. Your objective is to create an environment where employees feel like they matter and will want to share ideas. This also means they should feel safe when owning their mistakes without fear of criticism or humiliation when they do.

What Transparency Means to Us

Transparency is central to our company mission and values. It is important to provide our clients with access to a real-time report detailing all the work performed for their search, including unlimited access to all the candidates in their pipeline. This is where transparency in business begins for us.

We are transparent, honest, and open about our work results and see ourselves as true partners aligning our actions with our clients’ interests. We work hard and seek optimal on-time, on-budget, and perfect-fit solutions that will build success toward our partners’ immediate and long-term talent strategy goals. It also means that client solutions are first our solutions. The recruiting, selection, and development solutions we deploy are well-tested and repeatedly proven in our organization before they are widely implemented. We focus on providing clear answers and information about working with a recruitment firm. 

For our employees, we intentionally create and maintain an attractive and interdependent work environment that fosters and celebrates excellence, diversity, recognition, personal and professional growth, innovation, and collaboration. Our highest calling is to lead ethically, being a force for good in the lives of our employees, the organizations we serve, and the communities we live in.

New call-to-action