The investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails has finally come to an end. FBI director James Comey announced Tuesday that while Clinton's use of a private email account during her tenure as Secretary of State was "extremely careless," the agency would not recommend pursuing charges against her.
It's not the first time this election season that a candidate has been accused of hiding something. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, for example, still has not released his tax returns. But while politicians seem to be keeping an ever-tighter lid on their information (or at least trying to), many founders and CEOs are moving in the opposite direction--and providing important lessons about the importance of transparency.
Here's how five companies are benefiting from transparent cultures--sometimes through radical means--and why you may want to try a similar approach in your business.
You won't find any private email servers at Buffer--or private emails, period. The social media management service operates on a fully transparent email system, meaning any employee can read any email chain at any time. In addition to fostering trust within the company, Buffer says, the policy also increases efficiency, allowing one team member to pick up on a project where the other left off, without missing a beat. Likewise, Buffer's revenue, pricing, fundraising, salaries, and diversity stats are all posted online for the public to see.
2. Bridgewater Associates
Big Brother is watching at Bridgewater--in a good way. The Connecticut-based hedge fund thrives on a culture of "radical openness," based on founder Roy Dalio's 106-page personal manifesto (which is itself an open book--you can read it online). Dalio has office conversations recorded and cataloged using an iPad app, so that employees can hear what others have said about a work issue--or about them.
If recording your team's conversations seems a little too, well, creepy, consider the policy of Jack Dorsey's Square. The Silicon Valley mobile payments company prides itself on sharing ideas, so company policy dictates that at any meeting of more than two people, one person must take notes. After the meeting, those notes are sent out to all other interested Square employees to peruse them.
Unsurprisingly, Glassdoor, a Mill Valley, Calif.-based business dedicated to increasing transparency in companies' recruitment and hiring, is well-versed in the art of maintaining accountability and trust. In addition to making public hundreds of reviews by its employees, Glassdoor executives engage with the feedback to adjust the way they run the company. According to one employee's anonymous review of the business, "the founders and executive leadership team have been humble enough to admit that they don't know everything."
As Hubspot co-founder Dharmesh Shah knows, transparency and trust don't necessarily equal rave reviews. Hubspot, a Cambridge, Mass.-based inbound marketing software business, uses a Wiki site to loop employees in on as much information as is legally allowed? about the company's finances and other important issues. It's also a way for employees to give Shah feedback. "It's not uncommon for members of the team to call my co-founder and I naive, disconnected, or worse," Shah writes in a blog post. But the criticism is worth it: Hubspot has received multiple awards for its company culture.