What is Antitransparency?
Antitransparency. It’s not a self-explanatory term. If anything, it is provocative in nature and elicits a head-scratching, “What does she mean?” sort of reaction. The benign curiosity and mild confusion is fully intentional.
When we think about the greatest barriers our society has faced, we know that the vast majority of them come from the undeniable differences that compose the human race. However, we have seen a hierarchy emerge where, out of fear, we have randomly ascribed people with certain features to be superior to those without. As time has worn on, the gap between “us” and “them” has grown deeper, allowing for the widespread acceptance of a societal class system.
But low and behold, people began retaliating against this structure, one which provides only some of its citizens equal rights, liberties, and protections whilst leaving “others” to inherit a substandard version of this supposed autonomy. Although the United States constitution proclaims, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…” we now know this phrase only applied to a certain kind of person. Those who were courageous enough to identify the ways in which they were subservient to others in this system fought battles of all sizes, some visible and some not, to prove that this statement is in fact not true for all people.
Which leads us to the concept of transparency. When employees started noticing a hierarchy in their workplaces, they were frustrated by how inaccessible higher levels of leadership were. They had feedback that could help the company succeed, but there were no avenues available to them to pursue and, much in the same way, there was very little information being communicated from the top. There was a wall. And what is the best way to tolerate a wall? Make it transparent. Give people enough visibility into what your doing to allow them insight into leadership's thought process, level the playing field so to speak, and hopefully gain something from observing them as well.
Now this isn’t to say transparency isn’t an effective concept. It’s a step. But there’s a component we’re missing here if we look closely which is, to put it bluntly, that there is still a wall. Invisible or not, it is still there, marking a clear distinction between the “us” and “them”. Transparent walls may allow for a level of tolerance where we acknowledge other people in our organizations, but they are not privy to hearing their leaders speak the real truth, their voices are not represented, and in effect, they are still left out of the conversation.
So how do we fix this? Well this is where antitransparency comes into play. If we made a wall transparent by tolerating it, we must make a glass wall antitransparent by shattering it with acceptance. (We might as well shatter the glass ceiling while we’re at it.) By allowing people into the room where conversations are being had, we are opening our minds to other perspectives, ideas that can have influence, but do not solely determine the directionality of the decision making process. In turn, people will feel their voices are heard and their differences are celebrated.
To build a functional world, we had to create walls. We had to rethink them when they no longer served us. And when they are no longer necessary, we must break them down in order to build a new, truly equitable world.