Two events last week combined to form an important connection in my mind. Within Bango a group of colleagues presented a values workshop, describing how they interpret and incorporate the Bango THRIVE values in their lives (Thrive = Transparent, Happy, Reliable, Innovative, Victorious, Expressive). Of these values, transparency is one that I think is special about Bango. It is the value that new employees most often cite as the biggest, positive difference in their lives at Bango compared to their prior employment experiences.

Outside of Bango, the second event happened in the UK, when King Charles announced the individuals chosen for his annual honors. One of this select group was a certain Alan Bates or, as he can now claim to be, Sir Alan Bates. Not a sports star, not an entrepreneur or high-profile public figure, the newly Knighted Sir Alan is a quiet individual whose incredible efforts exposed a shocking lack of transparency in a major public institution – the British Post Office – and in a world-class IT business – Fujitsu. Efforts that were thrust into the limelight recently by the ITV documentary “Mr Bates vs The Post Office”.

It is hard to explain this wilful obfuscation, apparently sanctioned by the top leadership of the UK’s mail delivery service, compounded by the active suppression of critical information by those in and around Fujitsu at the time. The consequences of their misconduct were loss of income for thousands of small businesses, in some cases loss of livelihoods and liberty (some innocent individuals were given jail terms based on the withholding of evidence), and in a handful of truly tragic cases, loss of life. All through a profound failure in transparency, leading inevitably to further acts of deception (for the uninitiated: a Fujitsu computer system deployed by the Post Office into small business owners across the country persistently miscalculated daily income, leading to thousands of dollars of “missing” revenues per business, for which the small business owners were made personally liable).

Bates himself stands for Innovative – he figured how to challenge and then force the Post Office and Fujitsu to account for their failings; for Expressive – he took significant personal risks, spoke to the media about his misgivings and won the support of his local political representative; and ultimately for Victorious – both the Post Office and Fujitsu are under investigation by central government, potentially followed by criminal litigation, and many of the innocent small business owners have been reprieved and cleared of all wrong-doing.

Transparency is a hard value to uphold and the best of us will fall short from time to time. But in business it is not just worthwhile, it is vital I would argue. It means trusting people with all the information they might want, it means being open with customers about goals, expectations and challenges in the business, it means speaking-up when things are not working as planned. Technology is constantly developing, the products evolve over time, but the values persist. Values are what connects a King with a Knight and should be the force that unifies our biggest decisions with each of our individual, daily behaviors.