When it comes to how companies treat employees, source products or product safety, There’s not much point trying to keep secrets under wraps as transparency is becoming more and more critical for businesses today, says new research from media company Havas.
Taking a leaf out of Willy Wonka’s world – where no one outside the company knew about the Oopma Loompas or the factory’s conditions – the report ‘Project Superbrand: 10 Truths Reshaping the Corporate World’ says if a company existed like that today, in no way would it be swept under the rug.
“Whether a company is public or privately held, people expect broad access and accountability,” said the report.
“Churning out the most exquisite confections will offer scant protection against a public intent on answers.”
A number of consumers are also looking at the brands they purchase, and how they treat their employees. We all saw what happened when a joint investigation from Four Corners and Fairfax Media exposed convenience store 7-Eleven for allegedly taking advantage of employees – it got vilified on social media and the press. Similarly, another example would be Volkswagen’s move to cheat on the emissions tests.
Transparency is not an option, warned the report.
“Businesses must continue to do all they can to protect legitimate trade secrets, of course—a task that’s especially difficult in the digital era—but on issues related to ingredient sourcing, the welfare of workers, product safety, and the like, a very different set of rules applies.
“And when the public, the media, or regulators do find something amiss, it may not be just the organisation directly at fault that pays.”
Another key finding from the study says consumers are continuously looking to big corporations to be movers of change, not just governmental bodies.
The legalisation of same-sex marriage is case in point, when a number of high-profile brands took out a full-page ad in News Corp paper The Australian last year to showcase their support. And Adidas’ recent smackdown of commenters who didn’t like an image the sport brand posted adhering to two women kissing.
“The consensus is that businesses not only should play a larger role in solving social problems, but actually bear as much responsibility as governments for driving social change—and may even be better suited to the task,” said the report.
“The good news for brands: A significant majority of respondents are convinced that those companies that do drive positive change will be more profitable as a result.”