Organizational Culture & Values

Transparency and the “Why” in my China Sourcing Business

So what does business transparency have to do with Sourcing in China? I will get to that in a minute, but let me set the stage.

As the transparency movement drives businesses to be more open about their products and services, it is becoming routine to expect full disclosure on the who, what, when, where and how our products and services are offered. It has gone way beyond “features and benefits”, and now with instant tools like FaceBook and Twitter, just to name a few, we are at the instantaneous mercy of the fingertips of our customers. There are whole new sets of questions being asked about our corporate cultures, how we treat vendors, employees and customers and even what our corporate values are as it pertains to our local environments and the world as a whole.

From the consumer’s perspective, “Why are we in business” has more to to do with making life better and doing no harm than some of the seemingly more practical answers of the past, i.e,  making money, creating jobs and providing opportunity. Those things are great, but not what people are tweeting about. And we are judged on these transparency driven questions as much if not more than our features and benefits these days. And the thing is, we have got to get it right as someone is always watching.

Sound scary? Not really. It just sounds different and the good news is that it is driving a more responsive and responsible business culture. Now back to China.

In my business, transparency has been part of our business model for almost 10 years. As a service oriented business, we have always made all information we find on behalf of our customers available. It always seemed to make sense to me. The goal has been success for our clients and there is no way we can possibly know everything about every client business we serve. So we need to partner with our clients to make sure great decisions are made on their behalf. When I first started, most people said that I needed to protect my sources, that customers would go around me if they find out critical information. I always believed that if we were structured to offer value through transparency we would be stronger for it. This has turned out to be the keystone of our business. And yes, we get asked about sweat shops, child labor and other socially responsible questions. These types of things are factored into everything we do in China. And the interesting thing is that these movements and ideals are permeating China too despite things you might read. I see it first hand. It is starting slow, but gaining momentum.

What are your thoughts about the transparency movement? What are you doing about it?

Category: Organizational Culture & Values


About the Author: Gary Young

Gary Young, 10 year veteran of Vistage, is CEO of Avela Corporation, helping companies source products and services in China for over 9 years; with offices in Houston Texas and Shanghai China. Starting his company in 1984 as an advertising a…

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