From Scott Carlberg

“Transparency is the new objectivity.” That comment from a national business reporter at a conference I recently attended. The takeaway: Transparency builds organizational trust. It improves understanding. Transparency in the present can forestall problems in the future. Consumers’ ability to do their own energy management is increasingly more transparent. Technology opens doors to energy usage, prices, availability, and pro-activity. Management and oversight should keep pace with technology.

Transparency is essential as decisions are made about the public’s electric energy needs. With the creation of a state-level committee to look into the future of Santee Cooper, South Carolina is making transformational decisions that affect energy consumers. Openness enlightens all stakeholders in the issue. In that deliberation the State can build much more than a framework for an energy business. A framework for trust and confidence can be advanced, too.

Transparency has become more than a leadership choice as consumers gain influence. It is an expectation. “The gatekeepers of industries are becoming irrelevant, and authenticity and quality of work are the difference makers between who rises and who falls. The internet has created massive transparency through online reviews, blogs, yelp etc.,” says the web page of the Entrepreneurship Club at the University of South Carolina.

Spot on. Transparency has become an organizational responsibility; a condition of doing business. A recent Inc article says, “…for it’s only by being trustworthy that we can gain the trust of employees, customers and others who are invested in mutual success.”

Trust and transparency walk hand-in-hand. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, which every year looks at organizational trust, says most global respondents say that they no longer trust “the system” to work for them … government, media, business and institutions. That level is a sad first.

This opens an opportunity to build meaning and confidence. Effective transparency is not a flood of stuff, not a data-dump. (“You want transparency? I’ll give you a terabyte of data transparency!”) “Data fatigue” is how The Economist describes that kind of action. Positive transparency, on the other hand, has context and meaning. This is not about confidential corporate technical innovation, a secret software or proprietary nugget of intellectual capital. A Harvard Business Review column notes that transparency is a means to an end, not the end itself. Transparency is a tool for trust, teamwork and progress.

Transparency and objectivity are competitive advantages for a company or a state, and speak volumes to customers and citizens. As Santee Cooper’s future is being considered energy consumers benefit from an objective and transparent process.

Check out the blog from Bea Wray on Energy Consumers of the Carolinas: Setting Electric Rates. It’s under our Energy Blogs.