Transparency in business is like a two-way sheet of glass, with you on one side, and the world on the other.
It shows others a clear window into who you are, the ethics you uphold, and the reasons behind your business decisions. Transparency allows others to see the real you. It serves to affirm your authenticity, and provides accountability through your actions.
In the absence of transparency, a business owner essentially operates from behind a one-way mirror. Your view of the other side might be blinded by the avarice, ego, and prejudice reflected back on you. The rest of the world can still see you from the other side, but you’ve blinded yourself from seeing them.
I’ve encountered businesses over the years that would like to believe they are transparent, but are not: Business owners who seem unable to accept any responsibility for their actions, who cast blame on former employees, and who think they can do no wrong. What these companies don’t realize is that “the fish rots from the head”. Accountability and responsibility both begin, and end, with those actually running the business.
We have entered an age of “purpose washing”, or as I like to say, “B washing”, in which companies project a much more socially responsible image of their company than truly exists. I am continually reminded of the need for transparency in business. No longer is it enough to take one’s words. We must look at the actions of a company, how it treats its staff and truly upholds the community, to understand the real ethics at work.
This is why I’m so strongly supportive of the B Corporation certification and movement. I strongly believe it to be the absolute highest standard of certification for socially responsible businesses. It cannot be subverted by the whim of the business owner. It is a window of transparency at a time when it is needed most.
When you hire a B Corporation, you can trust in that certification, and further, that its team, from ownership to management to staff, are united by a vision of driving business as a force for good.
To B, or not to B? That is the question you should ask the companies engaging you.