It used to be that companies held their cards close to their chests. They were nervous to reveal details about their business practices for fear of tipping off their competitors or becoming vulnerable in the eyes of investors. But over the last few years, the tide has turned on transparency.
A study by Label Insight in 2017 revealed that up to 94% of consumers were more likely to be loyal to a brand that offered transparency and 73% of them were willing to pay more for a product that offered complete transparency. With consumer distrust on the rise it is easy to see why people are turning to brands who promote honesty in both their internal and external communications.
The social media management company, Buffer, was an early adopter to the radically transparent mindset. In 2013 they shocked the business world by making their company salaries public.
Since then, their transparency policies have gone from strength to strength and they now have a ‘Transparency Dashboard’ on their website giving easy access to all the information they choose to share.
This includes their staff salaries (as well as the formula they use to set these salaries), their diversity data, a Trello page showing a product roadmap of all the projects they have in the pipeline and their progress, and even a GitHub page giving away all of their code!
Buffer’s initial aims when publishing salary details was to improve communication and trust within the organisation, but it had unexpected advantages outside of this too. According to their PR manager, Hailey Griffiths, they received ‘around 2000’ applications after the information went public. She believes that people feel more comfortable at work when they don’t have to wonder if they’re ‘being paid fairly’.
2. Tony’s Chocolonely
Tony’s Chocolonely is a Dutch chocolate company which was founded in 2005 after founder Teun van de Keuken was horrified to learn about the extent of slavery and child labour in the chocolate industry. Their mission is to make 100% slave free chocolate the norm and they are using transparency as the tool to achieve this.
In 2015 they started working on a ‘traceability and collaboration platform’ which attempted to bring transparency to the long, convoluted supply chain of beans from West Africa to Europe, and the flow of funds in reverse.
They believe that an increased understanding of where the beans are coming from and who is being paid along the way will increase accountability amongst chocolate retailers who are far removed from the early stages of production.
In 2017, they started working with blockchain technology to improve their Beantracker app which aims to make traceability from bean to bar the industry standard. More recently they have partnered with Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest cocoa processor, and are well on their way to achieving their goals.
Another business pushing for transparency in an industry prone to hazy ethics is the fashion company, Everlane. On their website you can see information, and photos from each of the factories where their clothes are made. They have a map which pinpoints factory locations across the globe and blurbs detailing exactly what is made where, and why.
Further down their website they promise to ‘reveal the true costs behind all of our products – from materials to labour to transportation’.
The Cashmere Crew, a bestseller on their site, is broken down as follows: Material $26.65 + Labour $12.00 + Transport $0.60 + Duties $1.61 + Hardware $1.60 = True Cost $42.00.
They then explain that their price, $100, is actually a significantly lower mark-up than the usual 5-6x of traditional retailers which would bring the cost to $210.
4. KIND Bars
In 2016, KIND bars became the first US snack brand to clearly publish the added sugar content of each of their products two years ahead of the deadline set by the FDA.
Founder Daniel Lubetzy explained: ‘Our approach at KIND is to provide consumers with straightforward information about what they’re putting into their bodies, so for us, publishing the added sugar content in our snacks in a natural next step in our ongoing commitment to transparency.’
They added a ‘promises’ page to their website, outlining their commitment to their customers. Number 2 is a promise to always ‘aspire for maximum transparency’.
HubSpot is another company that was early to the transparency party. They created a 128-page Culture Code slide-deck which was originally intended an internal document. They decided to post it publicly and it has since been viewed over 3.9 million times.
As well as their culture deck in which they promise to ‘share openly’ and be ‘remarkably transparent’. HubSpot operate a ‘no doors’ policy, this means that everyone in the organisation has access to everyone, employees can even send a direct message to CEO, Darmesh Shah, via Slack anytime they like.
HubSpot faced a challenge to their policy of only protecting information when it is legally required, or not completely theirs to share, when they went public in 2014. Their Culture Code explains that: ‘usually, publicly traded companies can only share detailed information with a select group of “insiders”’. But this did not fit well with their commitment to radical transparency, so they decided to officially make every employee a ‘designated insider’.
These are just some of the companies making honesty their policy across the world – how will your company get involved with transparency? Get in touch and let us know!
Written by Betty Henderson