Whether it was your mom telling you or a teacher telling you, “honesty is the best policy” was a lesson we all learned at a fairly young age. In the business world, that saying still rings true and can best be upheld through proper communication, more specifically, transparent communication. Transparency in business has to do with the way you present information. As a business, are you upfront and clear with your customers, or is the information you provide clouded with smooth, but misleading language?
Now, more than ever, the way you relay information to your customers is crucial. Consumers have shown that they demand transparency. They want to know your company values, your culture and that you practice what you preach. Essentially, they want to know that the things you say internally align with what is said externally.
Putting it all out in the open sounds scary, right? But trust us, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
Take the media site Reddit, for example. Reddit describes themselves as the “front page of the internet” and is run by very dedicated volunteers, known as moderators. Moderators are users of the site who also play the crucial role of a monitor for a number of specific sub-division sites. For the most part, anything goes on Reddit, which is why it has a fiercely loyal and strong following.
The site’s users, including the moderators, were blindsided in 2015 by the abrupt termination of a well-known and well-liked employee, Victoria Taylor, who ran the site’s popular “ask me anything” forum. In protest to the unexplained firing, a large number of moderators privatized their sub-Reddit sites and national outcry came from community members. The decision to continue to withhold an explanation for Taylor’s termination made community members feel like Reddit had abandoned its original purpose of being a site dedicated to them and therefore, made them weary to trust the company. That lack of trust led to internal turmoil beyond the company’s intentions.
Unfortunately, the CEO at the time, Ellen Pao, was deemed responsible for this injustice and later resigned after enduring racist and sexist harassment from angry community members. Following this, Pao later states her gender did play a role in her forced resignation from the company, as it caused a rift between her and the internal board of directors.
So, I think we can all agree – this was bad. Not only did Reddit lose the trust of their community, but they lost a CEO and sparked a whole new debate on their workplace practices. How could this have been avoided? Like we said, honesty would have been the best policy. If Reddit had been honest from the beginning about Victoria Taylor’s termination, then maybe community members would have been more understanding towards Pao. At the very least, Reddit would still be able to say that they were transparent throughout the whole process.
Our eBook, “Trust and Transparency: How Much Equity Does Your Brand Have?” offers a number of tips and solutions for your business, whether in crisis or not. Take a read and learn how your company can achieve open and honest communication to build trust with key audiences and a more successful brand. Trust us, it’s worth your time.