Strategic Transparency

Posted May 25, 2022 ‐ 2 min read

We're trying out some new things, and we think transparency will help.

In building this fledgling tech organization, we’re experimenting with a bouquet of nontraditional ideas which may or may not work. Being transparent by default will allow us to be more efficient, equitable, and collaborative as we navigate the perils of growth.

To that end, policies and procedures of Silicon Ally are public, and we’ll open source our work when it makes sense.

From a purely practical perspective, the maintenance of secrecy requires more effort than the costs of transparency. We tell potential clients our fee-structure up-front. Prospective job applicants can see how we work and compensate.¬†We disclose our financial situation on a quarterly basis, and turn off our donation page when we don’t need the money. Each of these approaches establishes relationship expectations in a way that is scalable, and prevents misalignment from squandering everyone’s time and energy.

Transparency also has obvious ethical and reputational benefits. Operating without internal secrecy cultivates a culture of honesty, respect, and integrity - in the words of Justice Brandeis (and James Bryce before him) “sunshine is the best disinfectant”. Great advice for an organization, if bad public health guidance. Disclosure encourages humility, exposes technical shortcuts, and codifies institutional knowledge. Transparency is a subtle force that nudges us each in the right direction on a million decisions, large and small.

Finally, we’re hoping that describing how we work publicly can generate mutually helpful conversation. We know some of the policies and procedures we’re adopting are true swing-for-the-fences experiments, and we really don’t know if they’ll go well. We’re excited to share the results of those experiments, and get your recommendations on what we could try to do differently. We’ll continue to do so as we figure out what works for us, and what doesn’t. Hopefully transparency is in that first category!

With that in mind, today we’re publishing a bunch of policies that we’ve been thinking about and working on for the last few months: