With a decade’s hindsight, it is clear the 2008 crisis that almost brought down the world’s financial system emerged after “The Great Moderation,” a long period of economic and price stability that fostered complacency and risk-taking. While economists debate as to who is to blame or what triggered the chain reaction leading to the financial collapse, it seems as though the fault lies in lax financial regulations, a lack of oversight, a hunt for riskier assets by banks, hedge funds and investors, and irresponsibility toward risk.
Fast-forward a decade, the terms “Risk Management,” “Transparency,” and “Integrity” are preponderant, conscientiously woven into the codes of corporate governance of most nations, forming the very basis of company morale.
An Open-Source Culture
Ending corporate secrecy and corruption is on the agenda of most nations
Nine years ago, GitHub, an open software collaboration plat-form was founded, an embodiment of our open source culture. Tech enterprises are in the habit of empowering individuals to collaborate, create and produce. The relationship between producers, contributors and consumers is blurred. The collective pursuit has created an ecosystem, where contribution and community-driven work drives the economy. “Open source” is synonymous with transparency where an individual’s ability to openly collaborate with others is leveraged.
Elon Musk, the Silicon Valley’s rebel, demonstrated the power of transparency, when in 2016, he published his now legendary post, “The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)” – a basic roadmap that lays out his vision. Elon Musk’s secret-sauce is in plain sight, for everyone to see. (This seems counter-intuitive when we consider the extent to which individuals and corporations will go to great lengths to keep something a secret.) Musk, by offering total transparency, encourages a trusting public to buy into his ventures as they feel he has nothing to hide.
“Wait, I’ll Google It”
The Internet-Era is entrenched in the Information Age, an age where Google is a verb, and Mark Zuckerberg’s motto, “The more we connect, the better it gets.” His mission would make it possible for any individual to access and share information, redistributing global power. It is this access and sharing that is a) Pushing companies to take on a highly inclusive approach and b) Holding companies and public or-ganisms accountable. The Sharing Economy, Social Media, and user ratings are a foundation for an increasing number of businesses of the likes of Uber or Airbnb
Whistle-blowers, Leakers, Hackers, NGOs and Investigative Journalists
From Edward Snowden to Chelsea Manning, whistle-blowers are global countercultural heroes, cultural icons of this era, willing to pay the steep price of denouncing wrongdoing. More recently, Michael Moore launched TrumpiLeaks, an online platform, on which users can anonymously share information about the White House.
Ending corporate secrecy and corruption is on the agenda of most nations, an endeavour that is incited by fierce investigative journalism (recall the exposure of the Panama Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.) NGOs in the transparency sphere, acting as external entities, are increasingly sophisticated, and capable of pushing for openness by pressuring multinationals and governments.
Governments and Corporate Governance
Governments are demanding greater corporate accountability in the wake of the 2008 global crisis, which exposed the fragilities of our financial system. Borders may present an obstruction to the compliance to standards and laws, which is complicated by companies’ presence in various countries. However, governments are pushing for global standards and compliance to these standards.
Successful start-ups and companies founded on transparency, supportive manage-ment, fair work ethics and ‘cool’ corporate culture have won over the people. Elon Musk’s gamble on transparency paid off big-time. There is nothing we love more than consistency, transparency and a healthy dose of ludicrousness.
With transparency gaining traction and companies forced to reveal more about themselves, we wonder: where should the limits of transparency lie?