Keeping corporate secrets is a lot harder than it used to be. The whole idea of privacy has become unpopular.
Influence magazine’s editor (Q3 2016 edition) tells the story of a charity that spent a lot of money to generate a small net gain and a whistleblower revealed that not much of the money raised went to the advertised cause. This became a newsworthy item but the charity was surprised because it regarded this as fairly standard practice in its sector. But the public viewed this as a corporate secret that had unravelled. Similarly, the exposure of the Panama Papers and the Ashley Madison’s data leak have become scandals because they play off the excitement of secrets being discovered.
Keeping corporate secrets is a lot harder now. The whole idea of privacy has become unpopular. But is total transparency possible or desirable for those running businesses? A recent report by the CIPD, the CMI and the CIMA found that 1/3 of FTSE 100 companies withheld information from annual reports. Amongst the missing information were health and safety incidents, data breaches and employee turnover numbers.
These things matter to the public and customers. Companies like BP, Sports Direct, Starbucks and Volkswagen have felt the effects of reputational damage. So there has never been a better time for communicators and PRs to make the case for total transparency.