Build business trust with transparency

By Sam Casteris

Like people, businesses and even industries can sometimes catch a pretty bad reputation. Often, this notoriety comes from a place of truth, like, safety concerns, privacy issues, environmental hazards, past accidents, and uncovered scandals involving executives.

Whether an industry or business is newly painted in an unflattering light or has been fending off the negative press for years, there are ways to turn your infamy around, even if it feels insurmountable.

The secret to getting the public to trust your company, even in the face of reproach, is much simpler than one may think: simply tell the truth— and make it known. This practice is called transparency, and it’s incredibly effective as a marketing strategy.

How can a business show transparency?

Transparency can be achieved in a number of ways, depending on your industry and your goals for employing this strategy.

A great example is finance-related transparency. For instance, quite a few companies now make the salaries of their entire team (including executives) accessible to the public. By doing this, they can be held accountable for their actions, and potential consumers of their product can rest assured that they are supporting a company that treats their employees fairly.

Some companies, like Buffer, have even shared the formula they use to decide employee pay rates, which allows for less public or internal speculation.

How can transparency help turn around negative press?

By acknowledging the negative press that surrounds a business, they are doing themselves a huge favor, marketing-wise. This is another form of transparency, and it’s been implemented again and again to great success. The key to effectively employing this strategy is to acknowledge past missteps and show the public how you intend to fix that problem for the future.

This can be accomplished in many ways. If a company is being accused of unethical business or trading practices, this most certainly should be addressed— and, if the accusations are true, changed. For example, if a food company has been under fire for making food with scary amounts of sugar, they could respond by creating new products that are healthier— and sharing information on how they were able to make that happen. By allowing the consumer to see ‘behind the scenes’ and learn how your business is making strides to fix past problems, you are building a trust relationship.

How has a company used transparency to help their industry?

Recently, modern mining pioneer Anglo American made a big move in response to public concerns over the hazards of tailings dams used in the industry.

For those unfamiliar with the concept: when resources are mined, the precious elements are physically removed from rock. This creates leftover materials, which are often turned into dams. This past year, a Vale tailings dam in Brazil broke, causing a mudslide that killed hundreds of people. In the wake of the disaster, the public demanded the industry show more transparency about tailings dams.

Rather than hide from the issue, the team at Anglo American decided it was time for them to open up to the public about mining tailings dams. To do this, they released a guide to their tailings facilities worldwide. By doing this, they have been able to put themselves ahead of the bad buzz that’s been sweeping the industry since the Vale disaster.

How can my company become more transparent?

By not acknowledging controversial elements to an industry, businesses can come across as disingenuous. When a company is transparent about these elements, they may sometimes be exposing negative facts, but the consumers appreciate it. After all, if these problems exist throughout the entire industry, the public is grateful that one of them can at least give them all the facts.

There are plenty of ways to become more open to the public about your business operations. Whether you choose to share stats about your hiring regulations and practices, internal workings, or financial choices, your consumers will be grateful to know that they can trust your brand to be honest about the way you work.

Sam Casteris is an aspiring travel and personal finance writer in Phoenix, AZ. You can find more of her work on Content with Casteris.

Leave a Reply

The Self-Employment Survival Guide can help you succeed. Learn all about it here.

Self-Employment Survival Guide book cover