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Whatever Happened to Transparency?

Whatever Happened to Transparency?

Sharlyn Lauby | HR Bartender

August 31, 2010

You remember transparency, don’t you? Sure you do! Everyone was talking about it several months ago. It came right along with being on social media and operating openly in our communications. The idea was, to be successful, particularly on social media, you needed to be transparent – or, open, honest, and respectful in your interactions with others.

Funny thing, though . . . I don’t hear anyone talking about transparency anymore. I wonder why. Could it be that:

1. We’re all just sick of the word. The word itself has been tossed around so much just hearing it makes us run screaming for cover. Then some trendy magazine claims the word is passé so we drop it like a pair of Crocs. But since being transparent is still important, we’re continuing to hold individuals and organizations accountable for operating in an open and honest manner. Just, please, don’t mention “that word” again!

2. We’ve tried it without success. Transparency was huge during the last big election and the word was used a lot by individuals running for office and the organizations supporting them. Yet, crisis of trust still frequently occur. And those businesses and even social media platforms we once thought were high on the transparency scale might not be living up to that reputation.

3. It’s too much work to be transparent so we don’t even bother to try. I’m thinking there are plenty of organizations that want the benefits social media participation offers without the hassle of being transparent. After all, there’s money to be made. A little spin doctoring can’t hurt. And who wants to be totally open and honest anyway? It will only hurt feelings and burn bridges.

Of course, if the reason transparency has faded from view is #1, that’s okay. But, what if it’s #2 or even #3? Should we give up on our expectation of transparency? Should we still welcome and engage with just anyone on social media even though they show no evidence of operating in a transparent manner? And if we do, is operating in a legal or ethical manner out the window next?

Maybe it’s time we revisited the concept of transparency – if not at least the word. Let’s take a hard look at the organizations we interact with, on and off social media. Renew our commitment to hold them accountable, demanding respect and open dialogue. After all, it’s still our hard-earned money that sustains them. And if an organization fails our scrutiny, we need to then look at the organizations that support them, and maybe even the individuals involved.

Perhaps the reason the “T-word” has faded from view is because, after all this time and talk, we don’t really know what to look for from the individuals or organizations we interact with. Maybe we need some sort of guide . . hmmm, I’m thinking there’s another post in the works.

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