We live in a globalised world where there is greater interconnectedness between people as well as across borders. People now expect organisations and businesses to show ways that greater transparency can be achieved.
Recently the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) UK network held a panel discussion assessing the impact of the UK Bribery Act five years after its inception. A recurring theme from the discussion was the importance of transparency in order to stop bribery and corruption from the outset. International businesses have seen their reputation and image tarnished due to their lack of transparency. Examples include international financial business Wells Fargo, car manufacturer Volkswagen, retailer BHS and food supplier Tesco. Transparency shouldn’t be an afterthought when looking at ways to improve efficiency in or between organisations. It needs to be embedded within the culture and ethical values of the organisation, no matter what size or field.
Transparency has also been on the political agenda. It has been reflected in updated legislation in the UK Bribery Act and the Modern Slavery Act, as reported in Ethical Lens. The UK Bribery Act aims to crack down on bribery and corruption, and the Modern Slavery Act was updated to ensure greater transparency of businesses supply chains. These updates aim to highlight any unethical working conditions or unethical practices.
Everyone can initiate ways to improve transparency in their place of work. Below, we outline four ways you can do this in your organisation:
In order to be transparent, one needs to communicate effectively - it’s imperative. Communication starts with individuals and can gradually help build a more transparent corporate culture. Improving both internal and external communication shouldn’t be an afterthought, but should be appropriately addressed.
2. Sharing information
Making relevant information readily available for people is an important way of improving transparency. This could be by producing a comprehensive financial report or making customers aware of matters that are relevant to them quickly and efficiently.
No matter the size of your institution, from five members of staff to 500, it’s important to be able to provide a rationale for a decision you have made. This is something that everyone should be encouraged to do as it will help others understand the decision-making process. It will also provide greater transparency and trust in future decisions.
4. Embed the culture
For many people, working for organisations where they are able to align their personal values with that of the organisation is critical, as indicated by research by Kin Co. Thus embedding and creating a transparent working culture will attract like-minded people and will create a better and trustworthy pool of individuals.
Equally importantly, the Harvard Business Review reported that being part of a scandal-tainted organisation can have great implications on individuals, even if they were not associated with the scandal initially.
How ethical values can be embedded into corporate culture
Understand more about responsible business and the latest financial reports in Ethical Lens
CGMA report - Transparency in government performance