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Let the Light In—How Transparency Enables Integrity and Progress

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Let the Light In—How Transparency Enables Integrity and Progress

Rich Lesser

To BCG’s network around the world,

When I think about the work ahead of us this year, the two top issues are COVID-19, of course, and climate. But a third frequently confronts us these days: transparency. It’s a concept that not only plays a central role in tackling those first two challenges but also serves as a core enabler of our organizations—how they operate, how we lead them, and how we live up to our values.

In our battle against the pandemic, for example, so many of our early failures were a result of a lack of effectively gathered and openly shared data about how to keep people safe—to understand what was working, what wasn’t, and why. The data we’re now getting from Israel is a wonderful contrast to that early opacity, providing us with new waves of insight about how mass vaccination can beat back the virus.

When it comes to climate action, key to our progress is monitoring and openly communicating data about our emissions and the actions we take to curtail them, including our upstream and downstream emissions. With transparency, we build accountability, reinforcing a cycle that increases confidence among supply chain partners, investors, governments, consumers, and society—and accelerates progress.

This same constant drive for clarity and openness should be at the heart of how we lead our teams, essential as we aim for the highest level of integrity, encourage diversity and inclusion, and increase our ability to learn and evolve.

There are many ingredients in leading with integrity, starting with purpose, values, and policies supported by robust processes. But a critical first step is knowing what’s really going on in our organizations, encouraging a culture of open doors and safe havens for speaking up. Transparency fosters collaboration and better problem solving, enabling multiple views on complex, gray areas. It flattens organizations, connecting leadership with staff and vice versa.

At BCG, we give everyone ready access to anonymous feedback surveys, a confidential ombudsperson channel, a clear client review process, and plentiful opportunities to reach out to leadership to seek guidance or raise concerns. We also share information broadly across our partnership to foster dialogue and debate. We try to ask ourselves if we really know what’s going on around us and across our organization, and how we can learn more.

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” said Louis Brandeis more than 100 years ago, before he became a US Supreme Court justice. I deeply believe that he was right. I encourage you to have a meeting with your leadership team sometime soon—not to look at performance and priorities but to talk about what you’re not seeing in your organization and how you can better let the light in.

Until next week,

Rich Lesser
Chief Executive Officer

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