In a corporate landscape, where employees change jobs in the blink of eye, consumers are always looking for the next best thing. Stakeholder relationships are more important than ever, and there’s only one thing that gives companies a leg up on the competition: transparency.

Corporate transparency is the single best way to keep everyone from your staff to your customers to your shareholders invested in your business. Being open and honest about business success (and failure) is a surefire way to gain people’s trust and loyalty, which can make it a company’s greatest competitive advantage.

For big name companies, with well-established brands that are known and loved by the general public, giving people a behind-the-scenes look at the going-ons within the company may not be necessary. After all, those companies live and breathe in the public eye. For companies that are just starting off, transparency could be the key to standing out among the sea of startups.

When it comes to running a successful business in a digital age, guided by social media and easy access to information, honesty really is the best policy. Here are three levels of corporate transparency and why they matter:

Payroll Transparency

Payroll transparency is gaining traction within the modern workplace. Unfortunately, some companies aren’t ready to embrace this level of transparency. According to a recent survey by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, about half of all employees report that discussing wage and salary information is either discouraged or prohibited and/or could lead to punishment.

Why it matters: Payroll transparency is a bold move, but can single-handedly transform the workplace. Companies that do divulge payroll information have a huge competitive advantage when it comes to attracting job seekers and retaining employees.

For starters, sharing payroll-related information during the recruitment process (e.g. on job posts) ensures that employers and applicants are on the same page when it comes to salary. As for employees, making payroll transparent enforces equal pay. By making individual earnings and the methods those earnings are based on known to everyone within the company, employees can better understand why they might make more (or less) than their coworkers.

Goal Transparency

A company’s mission and vision define what the company does, where it sees itself in the future, and how it’s going to get there. According to Dale Carnegie Training’s “How Leaders Grow Today” survey, 43 percent of employees claim to be familiar with company goals — but can’t specifically name them.

It’s not enough to have the mission and vision stated on the company website, never to be seen or heard from again by employees or customers. Not knowing or understanding a company’s goals is not knowing the company.

Why it matters: Regularly communicating company-wide goals is critical to employee success. Employees who understand where their company is going and how it’s going to get there can better align their individual work goals with those of the company and contribute to overall success.

In short, it gives employees’ work a clear-cut purpose, which can help retain current staff and attract new talent. Most importantly, employees who understand the role they play in company success (or failure) can better serve their clients and customers.

Financial Transparency

Financial transparency is crucial to an organization’s stakeholders, from employees to investors to customers. Sharing important financial information — the ups and the downs — with the general public is a great way to breed trust and loyalty. And that sense of trust between a company and its stakeholders is the key to growth and future success.

Take Groove, for example. Groove is one of many financially transparent companies that shares their financial journey on their company blog. They’re currently documenting their journey to $500k in monthly revenue.

Founder Alex Turnball explains here: “The better we tell our story, and the more we share, the easier it is for other small businesses to see that we’re very much like them, and that we understand exactly what they’re looking for.”

Why it matters: For starters, being financially transparent can attract more investors to a bootstrapped startup, as it gives interested investors and shareholders proof of future potential. Additionally, being open and honest about a company’s financial situation with employees can help employees see the results of their work efforts.

How else can companies use transparency to gain a competitive edge over their competitors? Share in the comments.