Tag Archive for ‘Transparency’
Columnist Gael O’Brien says a line made famous by Jack Nicholson in the film “A Few Good Men” underestimates our capacity to deal with the truth. “The fact is that we can – we just aren’t given a chance often enough to prove it,” she writes. “Figuring out how leaders and institutions can sustain transparency offers far better long-term results than where we find ourselves now.”
Thanks to closed-door hearings, sealed records and a court ruling with large sections blacked out, even the most basic details of a lawsuit regarding a Consumer Product Safety Commission database have been concealed. That includes the identity of the plaintiff — known only as “Company Doe” – along with its product and the incident that led to the complaint.
The forced resignation of University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan has generated turmoil and widespread dissent among faculty, students and staff on the Charlottesville campus. And the state’s governor has given the university’s board an ultimatum to resolve the situation. “What UVA is demonstrating, ” writes columnist Gael O’Brien, “is that when values aren’t put into practice, distrust is created.”
News organizations generally cultivate a reputation for demanding transparency. But now many of the U.S.’s biggest media companies – which own dozens of newspapers and TV news operations – are flexing their muscle in Washington in a fight against a government initiative to increase transparency of political spending.
Across the globe, the trend toward corporate governance reform continues in response to the global financial crisis and to the opening of markets in developing economies. But consultants for the executive search firm Spencer Stuart think some of that may be overdone. “Governance regulation plays a valuable role,” they write, “but those who elevate its standing to that of corporate savior are exaggerating its power.”
Transparency – the effective provision of credible information to stakeholders in a way that improves decision-making and increases legitimacy and trust – is a rapidly growing requirement for international corporations, particularly those in mining, oil and gas, also known as the extractive industries.
The economic crisis, increased rules and regulations, and heightened scrutiny of boards’ roles have “corporate directors feeling pressure to be more effective in the boardroom,” according to an annual survey of directors of large companies by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Key concerns include executive compensation, risk management, strategy, succession planning, information technology security and fraud.
While the Supreme Court in Citizens United envisioned a world where shareholders could hold managers accountable for political spending, corporations have clever legal ways to hide their role in politics from the public. Over the past few weeks, a growing consensus among shareholders, corporate leaders and corporate law experts has emerged. All are urging increased transparency for corporate money in politics.
Reporter Jesse Eisinger suggests that Goldman Sachs’ announcement last week of a plan to increase transparency and disclosure does not resolve some big questions about the investment banks’ role in financial markets. “Could there be an argument that Goldman should break up into three smaller, more focused companies?” he asks. “It would be better for the financial system, and just might lead to the self-improvement that Goldman is searching for.”
The investment banking giant, seeking to repair damage to its reputation suffered in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, said its management and board had adopted and begun implementing 39 new policies and practices that represent a “fundamental re-commitment” by the firm to “reputational excellence” and increased transparency and disclosure.