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Why Radical Transparency (With Staff and Customers) Is Good for Business

During the pandemic, entrepreneurs shared information like never before. That's not going away.

learn more about Stephanie Schomer

By Stephanie Schomer

Christine Han
Jamie Erickson, owner of Poppy's

In times of crisis, experts often have the same advice: Be transparent. There's good reason for that. "People see the news; they can read the writing on the wall," says Ana Mendy, a partner with consulting firm McKinsey & Company. "Transparency is how leaders build trust. We call it "candor over charisma.' "

At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, most businesses took that advice. They started by sharing the literal lifesaving measures they'd taken to keep communities safe, but then something shifted, Mendy says. Businesses began sharing in ways they'd never done before — opening up about their day-to-day struggles, and starting very public dialogues with worried or confused customers. "Before, our clients would have never thought to do something broad-based on Zoom or in a two-way format," Mendy says. And now, she doesn't think it'll ever go away. "I expect the mode of communication may also shift moving forward in a way that flattens organizations and puts leaders at the center."

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