Dropbox issues its first Transparency Report

This is an excellent and exciting step in the right direction, for a major business to establish within its corporate governance a regularly scheduled public report on an area of public accountability interest. For Dropbox, that issue is of course data privacy/security. The report itself has lots of folks on my Twitterstream up in arms with fury, over its released statistics. It's also generating some media buzz along the same lines. But, guess what? We're not guessing. We know the real numbers. That's a big risk for Dropbox to be taking. We need to support and applaud that effort. 

The commitment to hold itself accountable to its customers—regardless of probable press responses and/or customer retaliation—is un-orthodox, carries with it a lot of risk for Dropbox, but is also a risk the Tech community is ready for. Parallel to their Transparency Report, Dropbox also has posted a plain-English, short-read page that outlines its Government Data Request Principles. Upon doing further research, I also uncovered their Privacy Policy and was very surprised to find it formatted... not in all-caps, not packed with legalese, and not a gazillion pages long. Its sections are broken-up into tabs, and it's—like—usable! What can I say: warm fuzzies abound for this UX'er, upon seeing just that.

Dropbox is not the first company to write public accountability into their corporate governance structure, though (sorry, Annual Reports don't count). 

In 2012 Etsy became a Certified B Corp, and as part of that shift in their business purpose they penned into their corporate governance an annual Progress Report. 2013 was the first year they issued one, and just like Dropbox's Transparency Report, it's purpose centers much more around honesty in plain-facts reporting on things of ethical interest that "just matter" to customers, the general public, and the media. My favorite part (of course!) of Etsy's report, is their Diversity bit. It's small, but it's there—and that's what matters.

"Our diversity score increased 5 points as a result of proactively working to improve the gender balance at all levels of the company. Through active recruitment of skilled women, we increased the number of female employees by 8%, now equaling 46% of all employees. The number of female managers increased by 15%, now equaling 40% of managers overall."

Accountability and reporting on ethical matters having nothing whatsoever to do with money, is exciting. It's at the heart of EqualTogether's mission. It empowers businesses to tangibly see if their efforts at given points in time are or aren't working, if tweeks to other efforts may or may not have worked, and it offers that insight to the general public, as well. Looking beyond simply getting real-time diversity metrics published and compiled into quantitative reports for our Partner Companies, working with our Partners to develop best practices for qualitative Workforce Culture Reporting, is something I also see as being critically important in the work of balancing access of opportunity in Tech.

There's information, and there's insight. Insight from readily available information tells the simplest stories, tells those stories most efficiently—and unlike the usual PR efforts, because they're data-driven and released at measured intervals, qualitative insight reports cultivate trust and bring communities together to solve hard problems. Same paradigm as the usual public company quarterly-results earnings report, but for workplace culture transformation. Diversity, but a longer-tail vision that includes worker happiness, tenures, promotion, etc.

What we've heard from prospective Partners thus far, is that businesses want to be doing these things. Having a partner in EqualTogether, and a community established among peers and competitors to work with in accomplishing this goal, should definitely take that want to the next level of do

Let's do this!