07 Feb 2023
Transparency matters… even if Brits aren’t good at it
In a country where “minding our own business” is a national obsession, being open about business matters doesn’t come naturally. Push through the discomfort, though, and greater business openness can benefit everyone, as guest columnist Cam Winstanley writes…
Do you know how much profit your company makes? How you compare to your closest competitors and how your sector is performing in general but also geographically? And what about your own situation? Is your salary band reflective of the industry average? Are your colleagues earning more than you for doing a similar job
Britons have traditionally been characterised as reluctant to ask awkward questions, particularly when it comes to financial matters. It’s therefore no surprise that it’s considered as rude to ask a neighbour what their house cost as it is to ask a colleague what they earn. Open discussion and detailed analysis of a company’s financial performance is left to senior management, who feed back what they want to share once or twice a year at company-wide presentations, where a large percentage of employees attend out of obligation rather than interest.
Yet this secrecy-as-a-default is neither necessary nor universal. Scandinavia’s strong social welfare model of high taxation supporting high levels of service has given rise to high levels of trust between not just citizens and government but also citizens and other citizens. Swedes, for example, can phone a government department and request details of anyone’s taxable income. (Although in the same spirit of openness, that person will then be given the name of whoever requested it.) Similarly, Scandinavian companies routinely make annual reports available to all that list salaries, energy usage and carbon footprints alongside staff salaries and company profits and losses.
To a country such as the UK, where work culture has always tended towards secrecy-as-a-default, this doesn’t come naturally. It’s telling that whenever journalists reveal that politicians or business people have avoided tax with offshore accounts, or profited from strong ties to the government, their first response is to express outrage that their privacy has been violated – not contrition for being so secretive, evasive or law-breaking.
Any move towards openness should therefore be welcomed and it’s already happening. It no longer matters whether your neighbour tells you how much they paid for their house when you can look it up yourself on Zoopla. Similarly, business transparency is already being enforced by governance in certain areas, especially for larger organisations. Over time, we can expect UK companies to make more and more aspects of their dealings freely available to all interested parties.
Until that happens, mnAi can help bridge the information gap by supplying clients with information on over 9mn UK companies that has been gathered from multiple sources and aggregated into a single, searchable database of over 12bn data points.
Until full business legislation makes it a requirement, mnAi’s proprietary data and AI-powered analytics technology can be used as powerful tool to reduce the disparity between what businesses want to know about their sectors and what other businesses are providing.
To book an interactive demo of mnAi’s data platform click here