Freedom: Extra-transparent Companies

transparencyIlan Mochari of INC profiled a handful companies that go the extra length to be transparent about their products and processes.

  • Dropbox discloses the exact number of search warrants and subpoena requests it receives, and it is as clear as it can be about the range of national security requests.
  • Nudie Jeans, a Swedish clothing brand, profiles each of its production sites, including subcontractors, giving details about the address of the site, photos, and when the most recent audit was.
  • Buffer is a private company that publicly shares salaries, equity positions, and monthly financial reports. It even responds to and welcomes visitor feedback.
  • Unilever is upfront about the challenges it faces in becoming more sustainable, and it isn’t afraid to crowd-source ideas. For each challenge, it lays out  specific goals it has, innovative ideas to get people thinking, and hosts an “Open Innovation Submission Portal” where anyone can submit solutions.

HOW analysis

The Freedom Report, a recent study that measures the “return on freedom” in companies, has several criteria of freedom. One of them is that companies that are proactively transparent about information to customers, and another is that companies make it easy for community members to provide feedback.

One of the key findings of the report is that companies that have high levels of freedom in their relationships with their customers and community stake-holders outperform other types of companies. It is little surprise then that shortly after the financial crisis, Nudie posted the most successful financial year in its history (2010), raking in around SEK 360 million. Since it’s announced its ambitious Sustainable Living Plan in November 2010, Unilever’s stock price has not taken a hit, but in fact has increased over the years. Another key finding is that high-freedom companies have strongly embedded values. Buffer takes its values seriously enough that its nine “Buffer Values” lists a set of specific behaviors for each value; its “culture deck” also has over 41,000 views. 

These companies understand that embracing the zeitgeist of freedom and transparency is the only way to thrive and win.

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