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The "Transparency Blog" features shared wisdom about workplace transparency. For more information, check the Home page or join us to share or seek some wisdom.
Lots of food stores brag about using “fresh ingredients” and being eco-friendly. Whole Foods is one of those stores. When you walk into any Whole Foods Market, by taking a little time you can explore whether these claims are true.
When you walk inside right from the entrance all the way to the backside refrigerators you see vibrant colors filling the aisles. Assortments of food line the aisles as families and little children search for the items on their grocery lists. Seeing how these families shop together and create healthy habits together was inspiring.
Whole foods pride itself in supporting the local community through actions such as volunteering with different charities and stocking their shelves with products of their “neighbors.” The picture below is just one example.
Local to the Tampa area is Uncle Matt’s Organic Juice from Clermont, Florida.
Whole foods promote connecting with the community and creating relationships with their customers. The Tampa location has a recycling bin, although that specific location does not have a place to recycle plastic or batteries. Whole Foods employee explained a place where a plastic bag and batteries recycling bin could be could be found. They also have boxes at the store for customers to use if they forgot their reusable bags at home, just as their website says.
Whole Foods, whole truth. We asked a question, we got the answer. Whole Foods defines its self on its values and core strengths, as boldly written on the walls. Whole Foods tells its customers what they want to know, transparency at its finest.
Have you visited your local Whole Foods? Have you seen similar values within the company by shopping there? How has your overall experience been at Whole Foods? Let us know in the comments below!
As an Ohioan waitress, Holly Ward bought Skechers Shape Up shoes, in hopes of improving her cardiovascular health and to get toned while busy at work. As she continued to wear her shoes throughout her work day, confident in the brand promise and earnestly upholding company trust, Holly began noticing significant hip and knee pain, and didn’t notice a change in weight. Instead Holly ended up in the doctor’s office, where an MRI showed that both hips, specifically the femoral necks, were fractured.
Holly soon realized that this drastic injury to her body could only be attributed to her purchase and frequent use of Skechers Shape Up shoes. Holly quickly came to find out that her complaint was one of many, and that Skechers would soon find themselves in a shameful scandal resulting in a 40-million-dollar lawsuit; proving them to be an organization lacking in transparency.
As consumers, we carry certain brand loyalties and have faith that our favorite organizations will always maintain an honest relationship with us and tailor to each of our needs. However, in 2012, Skechers faced a lawsuit claiming it made deceptive claims throughout its Shape Up campaign, saying that the shoes helped people lose weight, strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs and abdominal muscles; and endorsed by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian. The “Shape-Up” shoes were not the only shoes to cause similar problems- several of the other brands shoes continued to create significant bodily injuries to customers who traded the shoes in for the gym. The “scientific backing” behind this campaign was focused mostly on the promise of weight loss and toning on multiple muscles.
The Federal Trade Commission ruled that these claims had no “scientific backing”, and that the “chiropractor” used in some of the ads recommending the shoes based off an “independent” clinical study he conducted was married to a Skechers marketing executive, and Skechers also paid for the “independent study”. Furthermore, Skechers communicates nothing concrete about their policies for environment, carbon emissions or labor conditions in low-wages countries. For consumers, it is unclear whether Skechers is committed to sustainability or not, and whether they are committed to being a transparent organization.
As young professionals, we often face situations where we must choose the method of interpersonal and organizational communication we use both within the organization and outside of it. After learning more of the Skechers story, what do you believe could have been done differently in this situation?
A kid, little—maybe 9 years old, told me the other day that his friend had his own cell phone. “What kind?” I asked. “The best one in the whole wide world,” he replied, “iPhone 7.”
In our lifetime(s) I am not sure any other company has had consumers on the edge of their seats for the next version of the next thing for as long, producing as much of a financial windfall, as Apple has. Consumers gladly hand over their paychecks, but how much do we actually know about Apple?
Most of the research, development, and marketing genius goes down on Apple campus in Cupertino California. The new Apple ring looks more like a mega-church, airport, or UFO than a company headquarters–
Though Apple was founded in 1976 we all know that the fairy tale took off when Steve Jobs returned to the company he long ago founded, then soon after settled into CEO role. With products from the iMac to the iPad that the two-year-old to ninety-two-year-old now cannot live without—Steve Jobs managed to make sure that the world was fully equipped to continue its ride through the Information Age before he passed away in 2011.
For being revolutionary, it may be humbling, or more like disappointing to watch Apple use the failing bottom-line business model. Since Jobs return in the late 1990s, Apple has moved manufacturing out of the US, skyrocketing profits, while letting smartphone-bearing netizens report on Foxconn and other Apple contract manufacturing companies on going human rights violations.
Since 2007 Apple has released their Supplier Responsibility Reports, but instead of these being a beacon of true transparency they come across as pretty portraits created by, Apple’s advertising staff? Just a guess, because you have to dig SO DEEP to find what Apple is not doing well and deeper for any indication that Apple is really working on improvement. When searching for videos or articles on poor working conditions in Apple factories, not much comes up more recently than 2014. It is hard to say if this is a result of improvement or more corporate secrecy.
It is understandable that Apple needs to protect its trade secrets, but at what cost? Descriptions of Apple employees are strikingly similar to CIA operatives portrayed in movies who can’t say a word about their secret life to friends or family. Apple, what exactly do you have new recruits sign when they are hired? What was that? Ask Legal or the Business Conduct Helpline? I would be so happy for any friend landing a job at Apple, what an opportunity! After “congrats” though, I might not be able to bite my tongue before throwing in, “don’t drink the Kool-Aid!” -Nicole Mateo; Rachel Morreale; and Susanna Jones
Roberts, Matthew. “Apple Park April 2017 Drone Tour 4K.” YouTube 30 Mar. 2017
Rawlinson, Nik. “History of Apple 1976-2016.” Macworld 1 Apr. 2016
BBC News. “Apple Accused of Failing to Protect Workers.” YouTube. 18 Dec. 2014
2017 Progress Report.” Apple. 2017
Human Robotics – Technology. “Inside Chinese Factories The Truth About Working Conditions
at Foxconn, Apple, HP Factories.” YouTube. 8 Feb. 2017 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb0rU8Nq2GI>.
Alltime 10s. “10 Shocking Secrets About Apple.” YouTube. 5 Mar. 2017
Lee, Adriana. “Apple Handbook Shushes Employees From Talking About the Company.”
Technobuffalo. 2 Dec. 2011 <https://www.technobuffalo.com/2011/12/02/apple-handbook-shushes-employees-from-talking-about-the-company/>.
Have you ever heard of Patagonia? You probably have; in fact, you might even own a Patagonia jacket. This company, which makes outdoor clothing and gear, was founded by Yvon Chouinardin 1973. Transparency has become a growing trend amongst private businesses and nonprofits, but Patagonia has become a leader in transparency due to its effort to make its openness line up with its company values.
The company became a leader amongst other organizations by always looking for new ways to give us, their clients, what we want. They’re open about the good, the bad, and the ugly of their company. Yes, that’s right; the ugly referring to some things they know their clients might not agree with. Patagonia for example not only tells us that it uses organic cotton to make its t-shirts, it also informs us which factories in third-world countries manufacture Patagonia’s clothing.
You can see Patagonia’s transparency for yourself by going to the company’s website and perusing through The Footprint Chronicles. In order to accommodate the needs and wants of the public, Patagonia introduced The Footprint Chronicles, an interactive map on Patagonia’s website, in 2007 as a way to give its customers an inside look into what materials go into making each product. If you want to know where your Patagonia came from, take a look at the tag on the garment you are wearing. Using Patagonia’s website, you can trace it back to see exactly which textile mill was used to make it. Awesome, we know. Patagonia also practices transparency by listing all of a product’s information right on the item’s web page. This makes the shopping experience an easier and more knowledgeable process, and it demonstrates the company’s dedication to taking care of the environment.
Patagonia does not hold anything back, because it embraces change and always seeks to manufacture more environmentally-friendly products. The Footprint Chronicles allows the consumer to be informed about which farms Patagonia sources its materials from, which textiles were used in the making of each garment, and which technologies and materials were put into each garment. The Footprint Chronicles also describes the labor conditions of workers at Patagonia’s factories. You can find information such as languages spoken, gender percentages of the factory, and images of the location by clicking on one of the map’s multi-colored arrows.
Patagonia’s efforts towards transparency demonstrates that honesty is indeed the best policy for a business in the 21st century.
Your Uber is arriving now. Your phone notifies you, which means it’s time to get into your personally-driven premium car.
What started out as a simple ride-sharing application, has transformed into an entirely new way of looking at transportation. As Uber grew, so did the company’s ego and ignorance of their niche market.
With more than 6,700 employees throughout the nation, the company just recently released their first ever transparency and diversity reports.
The first thing to note is Uber’s transparency report, where you will find little to no information that is useful for you as a consumer. It’s not what the report says that should shock you, but it’s what it doesn’t mention that should speak volumes to consumers.
Over the past three months, Uber has gotten into a lot of hot water. Uber’s lack of honesty with you, and the rest of its consumers has gotten the company in trouble in many ways; such as: covering up stories of sexual harassment, drivers using cars that don’t belong to them, and much more. Their transparency report lacks any honest information other than explaining the requirements there are for a technological company such as theirs.
Direct your attention to Uber’s diversity report, and perhaps you’ll have more luck finding some sort of information on what Uber really is about as a company. This report ignited a wildfire of buzz throughout news outlets due to the company’s lack of minority employees. Yes, this diversity report is not up to the standards of some other technological companies, such as Google, but the CEO has already made a statement explaining his urgency to hire more minorities. Yet, even after his statement, is this enough for you? Do you see Uber as an uber-transparent company?
With the information from the transparency report as well as Uber’s diversity report, one thing is clear: Uber is as transparent as a murky pond. Uber needs to clean up its act before it’s too late, because there are many more fish in this big pond. If they don’t act fast they’re going to drown.
…. more than just coffee!
Starbucks´ transparency should be a model for other companies to follow. With business booming, as well as donations to philanthropic causes, the coffee company knows how to turn a profit, while respecting the Earth and all of its inhabitants.
Founded in Seattle, Washington in 1971, Starbucks is one of the world’s leading coffee brands. Under current CEO, Howard Schultz, the coffee conglomerate has been very transparent in most aspects of their business, from hiring decisions, to gaining customer input on products.
What is their mission statement?
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
Starbucks has worked hard to create an open and accepting environment in their stores, welcoming customers of every race, religion, and nationality.
Their values include:
- Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
- Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
- Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
- Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
To date, Starbucks has 25,085 stores internationally. Starbucks has pledged over the next 5 years to hire 10,000 US military veterans (8,800 of 10,000 already hired), as well as 10,000 refugees in various countries. The company has also pledged to reduce their eco footprint, by redesigning their cups to be more recyclable and reusable, to creating LEED eco-friendlier stores. Starbucks details their plans for LEED stores, with the use of energy efficient LED light fixtures, recycled coffee grounds in the table tops, low emitting adhesives paints, and flooring, as well as trying to locally source the materials.
As you see, Starbucks is a company loyal to their values, loyal to their mission, loyal to the environment, and loyal to the customer!
In 1943, Ingvar Kamprad founded a mail-to-order furniture store called IKEA. IKEA has since grown to the largest retailer of furniture in the world and has over 389 stores all over the world. IKEA has used its platform to raise money for multiple charities as well as strive to make the planet a cleaner place. IKEA also cares deeply about its employees and does everything to make sure that they live a good life.
In its pursuit of sustainability and transparency, it recently ran into a defining moment. IKEA had been getting wood for one of its sets from a forest in China for cheap rates. It then came to their attention that the wood they were receiving was being illegally logged. It then ran a huge internal investigation, stopped using that supplier, and changed the wood of one of their entire bathroom sets.
Finally, I think that IKEA has really led the way in the way a corporation should be run. They were public about their problems and have made a huge difference by becoming an example to be followed. They handled the illegal logging incident perfectly and have not had a slip up since. I think that IKEA is a company that genuinely cares about the quality of its products and the impact it has on the earth, people around the world, its clients and its employees.
Have you ever heard of LunaPads? If you haven’t you should know that this brand is very transparent. They believe in being open with their main public. LunaPads began in the city of Vancouver in Canada by Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens. Their goal at LunaPads is to help you have more positive and informed experiences of your menstrual cycles, and by extension, and for your body overall.
As a Brand their social mission is:
- Pad donations
- Mentoring women entrepreneurs in our community
They have values they believe in as a company and they stick to theme, and that is why as a brand they have been able to succeed in their business because of telling the truth.
With LunaPads it is also about them helping others that are not just in this business to make profit, but they want to make the world a better place for everyone.
They are under memberships that show what type of criteria that they have as a business. They are part of the B-corporation, which shows how ethical a company is. Also, Lunapads has a membership for the No secrets – We list all ingredients and with this membership they use the effectiveness of the economy to create a world that has less toxins.
Along with being a part of ClimateSmart and with this membership they were able to reduce the people that create their products to a small amount and know what they do and what kind of products are being used.
The concept of transparency in an organization has grown tremendously as a marketing approach. Of course, every organization has their reason for being transparent or not being transparent. However, we researched Zappos and this is the backstory we would like to share with you.
The founder of Zappos is Nick Swinmurn and he established the company in San Francisco, California. He came up with the idea as he was looking for new shoes in the mall. He went home empty-handed because all the shoes were either the right color and wrong size or the wrong size and right color. He started to do some online research and came to the consensus that there were very minimal opportunities to purchase shoes online. In 1999 Swinmurn quit his day job to start an online retailer called Zappos.
Zappos was different from other companies because their idea was to create a website that offered the best and most options in terms of brands, styles, colors, sizes, and widths. He created the foundation that he wanted to provide the best service online for not just shoes but every category. Zappos is a Holocracy as opposed to a Hierarchy. In a Holocracy, there are not any managerial positions, so all employees are treated equally.
In addition, Zappos focuses on these 10 main values with an emphasis on brand, business and culture:
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
Zappos values customer service because being a transparent company is very important to them. Furthermore, they define the majority of their brand as customer service and want to be well-known for a pleasant retail experience. As a way to provide great service, they have a 24/7 customer call service and live chat device.
Between Zappos pristine customer service, employee benefits, and core value focus, the organization remains very transparent.