From Exxon to BP to Madoff, from Anthony Weiner to Herman Cain to Kim Kardashian—and, of course, the Penn State nightmare—we are in a totalitarian transparent state of being (meaning zero tolerance for not being transparent).
In this most social of social ages online and off, it stands to reason that going local also means going transparent. There’s a real truth to local, an authenticity and a sense of community. People go to farmers markets because they feel confident that what they are buying (and the people they’re buying from) is good, they buy local coffee because they trust the quality, and they purchase local designers because there’s more than a whiff of giving back and buying into something true.
Local businesses need to think that way, too, because even though they might be servicing national and mass accounts, it’s time for them to take inspiration from friends and neighbors and celebrate the real, the honest, the true. After all, transparency is also all about accountability—and good businesses practicing the art and science of transparency are less bureaucratic and easier to navigate than firms based in large cities that are being Occupied and put under a very exacting lens.
With transparency, getting it done is suddenly seamless, a culture of innovation is embraced and an entrepreneurial spirit lives amid all that fear and anger (Time gave its Person of the Year honors to “the protestor,” after all). And if communities can have business leaders paving the way for prosperity in our town and others, it has to start with being transparent and promoting best practices to strengthen our local businesses’ ability to get the big RFPs and take local one step further.
Plus, with transparency as the new normal, it’s more important than ever to be up front about what your brand is doing to be socially responsible. Transparency about giving back is going to resonate at the local level more than ever: With so many people in our own backyards needing help and support, it’s a terrific time for local firms to pitch in. Simply providing goods and services is not enough anymore; consumers and clients demand to know what we are doing to make the world a better place, one community at a time.