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Transparency: The Cure for All

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IN THE PAST and no doubt at present, there have been numerous cries for transparency and accountability within the corporate arena.

Nowadays, transparency seems to be the newest curse word as some leaders take great offense when their level of accountability and transparency comes into question. It is shocking how a question about transparency can be perceived as an attack on the leadership and an effort to undermine those at the helm of the organisation.

Even so, history has revealed that it is always better to ask the hard questions and risk ruffling a few feathers than to keep friendships and sit silently as those elected to serve the interest of all bring the organisation to its knees. The issue of transparency is not exclusive to the corporate world. Some may argue that there are unscrupulous individuals in every organisation, and that may well be the case. However, internal controls and increased transparency protect the interest of both the organisation and its stakeholders.

The bible tells us that the heart of man is deceitful above all. Therefore, despite our faith in the goodness of humanity, the sad truth is, most often than not, if a member of your organisation is presented with the opportunity to be dishonest, unknowing to John Public, he or she will take it.

In light of this, here are four ways to improve transparency in the organisation. First, there can be no transparency without communication. Therefore, leaders must make a conscious effort to improve the organisation’s internal and external communication.

Avoid ultimatums; instead listen to concerns as information is disseminated.

Second, information sharing is critical; attempts to hide information can quickly be perceived as efforts to be involved in fraudulent or unethical behaviour. Third, there must be a rationale for every decision made. This keeps leaders accountable for their actions. Lastly, since birds of a feather flock together, creating a transparency culture within the organisation will attract individuals to the organisation who are trustworthy and transparent.

It is important to note that transparency is not a natural reaction and hence would not be achieved without some nudging. It demands consistent efforts to be developed, maintained and evaluated within the organisation. To this end, it is recommended that this principle be embraced from the top down, and leaders take on the responsibility to exemplify and to foster an attitude of transparency in the organisation.

Dr. Wendyann Richardson is a Management Consultant who specializes in corporate governance, business operations management and refining of skills through training.

She can be reached at [email protected]