In today’s landscape, businesses often wield much more power than a single individual—whether that be due to having more resources, more connections, business-friendly legislation, or a bigger platform. With these advantages comes a responsibility to hold yourself to a higher standard than the bare minimum. That means being open and honest about how you’re conducting your business with those affected by it, taking responsibility for mistakes, and empowering employees, customers, communities, and stakeholders to keep you true to your word.
What does it look like?
Transparent in operations
There has been no time in human history with more access to information than this very moment. The internet age has the potential to be a truly double-edged sword. While some individuals and organizations fear it and surround their decisions, behavior, and processes in secrecy, we see every day that companies with something to hide often get found out. Keeping our practices as open as possible with those impacted by them helps to hold us accountable to sticking to our principles and staying ethically sound.
Emphasizes clear communication to employees, customers, and stakeholders
Honesty is the best policy, even when we’ve made a mistake. In spite of this, however, we see organizations around the world try to skirt responsibility by using vague language that seems to keep truth at a safe distance. Organizations that focus on people make it a point to say what they mean and mean what they say.
Takes the bigger risk in relationship with employees whenever possible
There are many scenarios in which it feels like employees are put at odds with “the company.” Situations like pay negotiations, benefit structuring, and contract structuring often end up being difficult situations because organizations look at them as battles to be won rather than opportunities to reward/thank their people. A human-focused organization comes to the table in a place of grounded service, wondering, “How can we deliver on our purpose while supporting our team member?”
Solicits and implements consistent, real-time feedback from employees and stakeholders
Feedback given once a year (or even a quarter) is outdated and often ineffective. Companies that hold themselves accountable to their purpose and values keep an open conversation with those who know them best about how they’re doing.
Creates simple, respectful, effective grievance/dispute resolution pathways
The only way to truly understand when something is wrong/out of balance is to create the least amount of resistance for people to shine a light on it. A company holds itself accountable not only to the outside world, but internally amongst employees. If employees are showing up in unacceptable ways for each other--from the front lines all the way to the C-Suite--they must be held accountable. It’s the organization’s responsibility to create and hold the space where people feel empowered and safe to deliver this feedback to anyone at any time.