Transparency in the company, a model for success?

31. January 2023, 9:05
By Oliver Gloor and Caroline Cavin

How much do my work colleagues earn? What does transparency mean for communication? Is transparency avant-garde? Oliver Gloor, CEO of bmpi AG, provides the answers.

Oliver, what does transparency mean for you?

“For me, transparency means that all employees have access to information they are interested in. Contrary to the widespread need-to-know principle, this also applies regardless of whether they are directly affected. At bmpi, all relevant business figures, such as offers, sales and wages, are available to employees. Reports for the board of directors and the balance sheet and income statements are also transparent. Confidential customer data and personal information, such as medical certificates or job application documents, are excluded from this. Here, bmpi protects the privacy of employees and applicants.”

And why is transparency important at bmpi?

“Because it is about trust, clear communication and fairness. Transparency strengthens trust between employees and management and, conversely, requires clear communication. Transparency in the company also leads to decisions being made more fairly, e.g. on wages, further developments, etc. In a transparent environment, it is not possible to make unfair decisions at will, as it would be an affront to the employees.”

As a small company with a handful of engineers of the same age with similar training and jobs, there were almost no differences originally. And so it seemed only natural to us to be transparent internally. We would have considered it a waste of time to specifically protect anything on the internal network. We have maintained these characteristics almost throughout, even though we now have almost 30 employees.

Oliver Gloor, Dr. sc. math. ETH, CEO of bmpi AG

At bmpi, employees know how much everyone in the company earns. How did this come about?

“bmpi has practiced transparency since it was founded in 1997. When I joined the two founders, Stephan Missura and Marcus Brändle, two years after the company was established, we were among equals. At that time, we decided to maintain wage transparency and saw no reason to make any distinctions. We could and still can stand by our wages today, and must be able to justify them.”

Has wage transparency ever led to discussions?

“Yes, especially in the early days there was a difficult situation. At the beginning, all employees earned the same amount. When the first successes began to emerge around the year 2000 and bmpi had grown further, the management introduced a differentiation in terms of responsibility into the salary model. This decision caused incomprehension among some employees. However, when the dotcom bubble burst shortly thereafter and orders failed to materialize, the management went ahead with a temporary wage reduction.”

The monthly bmpi meeting informs employees about customers, projects and the course of business.

On what factors are wages based?

“On the one hand, our salary model is based on factors such as education, knowledge or expertise on IT and finance, and rewards special activities such as business development. On the other hand, there are different career levels, such as junior software engineer in the engineering career or senior consultant in the specialist career, which are included in the calculation of the salary.”

How is transparency practiced at bmpi?

“We hold our monthly bmpi meeting, where we inform employees about customers, projects and business performance, etc.. This information is directly available to everyone internally. Since it is not possible to provide information on every detail of ongoing projects, the meeting is usually followed by an aperitif. This allows a more in-depth exchange between employees and management. At the same time, all employees are invited to address questions on all aspects of the company directly to those responsible.”

What does transparency mean for internal communication?

“Transparent communication is difficult as soon as the subject is people themselves. You have to search for the right words when, for example, employees have to leave the company. We try to protect the privacy of the employee and at the same time meet the need for information of the work colleagues. In other companies, no information is provided under certain circumstances, and the employee is simply gone.”

According to Oliver Gloor, CEO at bmpi AG, transparency as it is lived at bmpi is avant-garde.

And external communication?

“Here we have to decide how transparent we want to be to the outside world. We try to be tangible for our customers and share as much information about ourselves as possible. Exceptions are information about wages and other business relationships. However, we are convinced that an open exchange of information strengthens customer relationships and customer loyalty in the long term.”

What opportunities does transparency offer?

“I believe that transparency, as we live it at bmpi, is modern, if not avant-garde. It represents a great opportunity in a company like ours, because it shapes the way we work together as well as trust, and thus has a positive influence on our motivation.”

And what are the risks?

“The risk of salary transparency lies, for example, in the recruitment of employees with sought-after profiles. On the one hand, we are restricted by our salary model and have to justify any deviating salaries internally. On the other hand, it is difficult to demonstrate the advantages of our transparency in job interviews. However, we are convinced that once they have experienced transparency, they will not want to miss it in their future careers.

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31. January 2023, 9:05
By Oliver Gloor and Caroline Cavin
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