The Era of Always-On Transparency has Arrived

In our increasingly interconnected world, companies, government entities and nonprofits have recognized that, to succeed, they need to be more transparent about how they operate and how they impact people, communities and the environment.

The Internet and connective technology have vastly changed the communications landscape, creating expectations that information will be readily available and updated in real time, since the medium allows for instant updates. This context, combined with waning trust in institutions and heightened pressure across all sectors to achieve lasting social progress, has made it an imperative for organizations to disclose more than just financials.

Stakeholders, ranging from consumers to investors, tax payers to donors, expect to have more access to disclosures about social and environmental programs and results, and demand more opportunities to participate in the impact process, especially with respect to sharing ideas and feedback in open dialogue with organizations.

Within this new reality, trust and credibility are essential. As Howard Shultz has observed, “transparency is the currency of leadership.” Organizations must reinforce their credibility and earn stakeholder trust every day. An important part of doing just that is engaging in ongoing conversation about progress and impact. Gone are the days where organizations can get by with just an annual report or one-time impact update. It’s time for organizations to move to a model of steadily sharing updates about how they run their operations, how they measure impact, what good they are making in the world and what they are learning along the way.

Technology has allowed organizations to be creative in the way that they pursue strategies of ongoing transparency. Live tweeting events, posting thought leadership installments on LinkedIn and leveraging annual impact reports as the start of an ongoing storytelling opportunity are just a few ways that organizations are able to interact with key audiences.

Our Social Impact team has taken a deep look into how companies, government entities, foundations and nonprofits are meeting new expectations for Always-On Transparency. In this second installment of our five-part Innovation Trends Report series, we explore transparency across sectors, provide case studies and offer expert perspectives on successful strategies for integrating Always-On Transparency into any organization’s communications practices.

We look forward to your thoughts, ideas and examples of how leading organizations are prioritizing ongoing engagement about social impact work to drive both performance and impact results. And, stay tuned for additional insights – from purpose-driven data, to conscious crowdsourcing, to inclusive global economies – on the trends that are transforming how people, organizations and systems connect to drive positive change.

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