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The Naked Communicator

Awhile back I gave a keynote at a PR event downunder on how the combined effects of legislation, heightened responsibility and the web were stripping communicators and corporations bare. Part of the thesis was inspired by Don Tapscott’s great read, The Naked Corporation: How the Age of Transparency Will Revolutionize Business.

His new transparency portal is live. The thesis is straightforward – transparency is triggering profound changes across the corporate world. Firms that embrace transparency will thrive, and those that ignore or oppose it will suffer.

Transparency is far more than the obligation to disclose basic financial information. People and institutions that interact with firms are gaining unprecedented access to all sorts of information about corporate behavior, operations, and performance. Armed with new tools to find information about matters that affect their interests, stakeholders scrutinize the firm as never before. The corporation is becoming naked.

Corporations that are open in response to these pressures perform better. Rather than something to be feared, transparency is becoming central to their success. The best firms have clear leadership practices that others can adopt. They understand that investments in good governance and transparency deliver significant payoffs: engaged relationships, better quality and cost management, more innovation, and improved overall business performance. They build transparency and integrity into their business strategy, products and services, brand and reputation, technology plans, and corporate character.

And that is great news. We’ve done a few interesting things at Sun. First, the depth of information we provide at earnings is unlike many of our peers. Second, we’re also ensuring the behaviors we require are understood through Fiduciary Bootcamps. Third, we’re opening our doors, virtually, through blogs. And, we’re one of the sponsors of Don’s project. Jonathan Schwartz also has in interesting piece on the site.

That’s why, in our view, real corporate transparency means going beyond financial statements. It even means going beyond the walls of the company and into the minds of the men and women who are Sun. It means learning what they’re doing, saying and thinking about the firm, its products, it community and its future. To enable access to some of our most personal thoughts, Sun encourages employees to participate in publicly-accessible blogs.Blogs bring investors, developers, partners, customers and others who are interested in the soul of this corporation, onto the desktops and into laptops of the folks who make Sun run. No holds barred. Sun blogs let us engage in public discussions about everything from products-in-process and corporate strategy to the prospects-for-world-peace.

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