Five ways business is responding to the ‘transparency imperative’

One of Ethical Corporation’s regular columnists, Andrea Bonime-Blanc, has co-authored a good Op-Ed in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune.

Here’s the link to the full piece.

Here’s a summary, extracted from the article:

“Whether they do so voluntarily or by regulatory mandate, companies are beginning to embrace the new transparency imperative in five key ways:

(1) Adopting better governance with stronger shareholder rights, board rules, director accountability and pay for performance.

(2) Integrating corporate integrity programs into business strategy and leadership development.

(3) Pursuing dialogue with multiple and increasingly vocal stakeholders.

(4) Engaging proactively with regulators intent on trans-border cooperation and enforcement (especially regarding anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, antitrust and anti-fraud).

(5) Catering to two critical constituents — employees and customers — who have shown greater willingness, and ability, to “vote with their feet.””

Their conclusion is also very significant and something we’ve been arguing in Ethical Corporation magazine for years:

“…the irreversible Internet revolution that now “outs” what previously could be hidden will only further the irreversible progress to greater transparency that is already underway”.

This has never been more true than today.

Companies will never keep up with technology and how it distributes ever more quickly generated information to anyone who is interested.

The only way to play is to jump on, accept you cannot control debate, and make a reasonable voice heard, amongst the ever growing din.

Because they have money, and often a recognised brand, companies have a chance to help support debate about the corporate responsibility issues they are engaged in.

I’d love to see more of them sponsoring public online and offline discussions on important responsible business issues.

So many companies spend so much money on advertising, PR firms, lobbying, and printing CR reports that no-one reads.

We know that marketing is becoming more permission based, and more segmented.

Why not take some of the traditional CR budget and spend it on supporting debate?

Or better still, go get more budget, from external affairs, comms or wherever, and re-allocate it for better use.

I have some ideas about how that can be done if any reader out there wants to discuss this further.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Toby,

    Great post, and insights. Totally agree with you that the era of one-way (or top-down) messaging is dead. Companies now need to embrace dialogue with their stakeholders, take part to the conversation/debate and contribute to it.
    This is definitely a trend moving forward in the CSR/Sustainability field…and even broader stakeholder engagement space.

    This is especially the case as dialogue is now fueled by social media and digital tools. The great benefit of the social/digital media revolution is that it put the 'social' back into 'social corporate responsibility'…for the better.

    And Happy New Year!

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