​The word “transparency” has been tossed around a lot lately, but leaders who made this a key part of their communication strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic say it’s been essential.

“We’ve been committed to a true sense of transparency. We were posting COVID numbers from the get-go,” says Paul Gerharter, RN, vice president of clinical services for Caraday Healthcare. “Transparency is one tool to help overcome the overwhelming amount of misinformation, especially when it’s cloaked in a format that makes it look legitimate.”

But transparency isn’t one and done, Gerharter stresses.  “As a parent, you have to stay in constant touch with your kids. If there are spans of time when you don’t communicate, that is when the vulnerabilities creep in.”

The same is true at work, he suggests. “If you stop communicating with your team, people look to other sources for information and can end up believing the misinformation, myths, and conspiracy theories instead of the facts,” he says.

Especially early on, says Dallas Nelson, MD, CMD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, “People who were transparent often were punished. As a result, many people decided that saying ‘I don’t know’ was worse than making something up. We have to respect and honor those who are being transparent.”