News of yet another possible meltdown on Wall Street in the U.S. is enough to make me yell ‘oh my gosh!’ And ask the question: why can’t businesses realize that transparency is the preferred dressing and not opacity?
In the art world, where I live some of my time, there is an easy test for transparency that I’ve used in teaching beginning painting students…it works for both acrylics and watercolor paints. I tell my students to never assume a color is transparent until it is tested. Here’s what you do:
- on a piece of white paper, in the center, draw a thick line using a black Sharpie pen [Sharpie is my brand choice because it dries almost immediately and it is waterproof]
- take a color of your paint, like red, and brush some across the black line
If you can see the black line through the paint…you have transparency; if you can’t see the black line, the color is opaque. To further test this, if the red paint proved to indeed be transparent, add some white to it and test again. I think you’ll find that now the new mixture is opaque. Adding white not only tints a color it makes it opaque.
Opacity means that light does not penetrate. Opacity means that you can’t see what is underneath. It kind of gives you the idea of “white washing.” Ever heard of an old fence being whitewashed? That simply means you’ve mixed up some white paint and painted it over the fence…hiding the old ugliness of it. The problem with whitewash is that it will erode with weather and sunshine and time. Eventually the ugly old fence shows its true self.
The businesses we’ve read about that seemed so “golden” and shiny on Wall Street that have fallen failed the transparency test. They were whitewashed and when the paint peeled away the ugly was revealed.
Ask yourself: is my business transparent? If you paint my business’s practices over that black line will you be able to see all the way through? You want the answer to be “yes.” Integrity in business should be a “what you see” is “what you get” proposition. Your word should be your bond. You should practice “truth in advertising.” There should be no hidden agenda.
It’s like my grandfather used to tell me: if your name is on it or associated with it, you carry your whole family’s reputation with you. It gives you something to think about whether your business is that of a huge Wall Street financial concern or a home-based business whose product is breakfast juice – being transparent is the color of integrity.