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Workplace Transparency: How Much Should You Share?

Kathryn KerbyKathryn Kerby
December 26, 2022
youB member since 2023
5 publications
Values this work is based on:
Purpose: Foster trust and respect, reduce confusion, and increase employee engagement through honesty, trust, and open communication.
3m Read

By Kathryn Kerby

No one likes secrets.  They are destructive, heavy, and rarely ever stay secret.  When they become known, they often end up doing more damage than if they had been discussed early on.  They are expensive.  Yet many of us have them even though we don’t like them.  And many of us tolerate secrets at work, even though we understand that holding secrets at work can carry even heavier burdens than in the personal realm.  Many of us have started to ask: “Is there a better way to run a business?”  The answer, thankfully, is yes.  We can run our businesses openly, and practice honesty with our employees and all external stakeholders.  Nice words but getting started can seem daunting.  Thankfully, we’ve found a variety of tools for you.

How to Create and Maintain Transparency in Business

The following sources all have slightly different versions of what transparency looks like, how to get started with it, and what the benefits will be for fostering transparency in the workplace.  All of them offer suggestions for how to get started.  While any one source may not be “the” answer, they all offer sound suggestions, and you can pick and choose which methods and practices will work best in your situation:    

How To Balance Transparency and Privacy

All the glowing conversations about transparency would start to make us business owners think that “more is better”.  However, that is not accurate.  There is a balance to be struck between providing transparency and preserving both individual and business privacy.  Thankfully, we have a guide for that too.  Ethan Bernstein, the Edward W. Conard Associate Professor of Business Administration in the organizational behavior unit at Harvard Business School, set out to conduct research on how businesses could benefit from transparency, and he ended up learning that privacy is just as important to business success.  Check out his article The Transparency Trap, to help make sure both are preserved.  


Remember, you’re in good company if and when you begin incorporating transparency into your operation.  Plenty have gone before you and there are a LOT of resources available to you.  While the effort to make improvements can seem daunting, plenty of companies have gained far more as a result.  We encourage you to try.


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