There has been a lot of talk about transparency recently. The new Obama administration is promising greater transparency in government. And the economic crisis and bailout have focused our national attention on the internal operations of businesses, particularly financial institutions and other companies that have asked for government bailout money. We have realized that we as a society can be profoundly affected by decisions that banks and other organizations make. So while in previous decades we might have trusted organizations to ‘do their thing’ without external scrutiny, we are now more skeptical. In a way, our trust has been broken. Harm has been done, and a watchful eye is now needed. In this sense, we want organizations to be transparent for the sake of policing.
Decisions made in boardrooms can have very real and significant effects in all of our lives. The current economic crisis has shown us that, like it or not, we are all in this together.
However, while the societal effects of organizations’ actions can be negative, the corollary is that they can also be positive. Just as an organization can break the public’s trust by making decisions that affect their entire community negatively, they can also act in ways that make positive contributions. Organizations that are transparent and engaged with their customers and other stakeholders can demonstrate that they take their responsibilities to their larger communities seriously. Transparency in this sense can be a very positive thing, for both organizations and communities.
This focus on economic and social interconnectedness and push for organizational and governmental transparency presents an opportunity. It allows for both organizations and the general public to think about how business could be done differently, in ways that serve communities and society as a whole. Greater transparency and engagement could not only allow for pessimistic policing, but also facilitate productive interactions that could lead to benefits for all involved, not least of which could be mutual goodwill. And as these issues are now at the forefront of our collective consciousness, the timing has never been better.
Photo by: *S?M