Now more than ever, companies are striving for transparency in new and extreme ways, publicly posting salary information, performance reviews and stock shares. But Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown has taken the concept of radical transparency one step further: Every time he fires an officer or employee, he announces the termination on Twitter.
Brown's termination tweets follow a simple format, stating the name of the employee and the reason for the firing. In 2013, twenty-seven officers and employees were let go; each departure was accompanied by a Tweet like this one:
I have terminated 911 Call Taker Moises Limon today for driving while under the influence and not reporting his arrest to his supervisor.
Brown said his actions (fittingly, he did so in a tweet) are motivated by transparency, and a desire to "engage the public on social media."
Perhaps even more surprising than Brown's unorthodox policy is the fact that it's not used more often. Brown is a municipal employee who is offering valuable public information to taxpayers about their local police force. It's an easy argument to make that they have the right to know when an officer is fired "for his involvement in a domestic disturbance which resulted in a police response," or when an officer is demoted "for failing to aid a fellow officer who was nearby requesting help with a combative prisoner."
And could this tactic be employed for private businesses as well? If an employee commits an egregious act and is fired for it, would it improve company culture if other employees, not to mention consumers and the general public, understand exactly what he or she did wrong? Can public accounts of dismissals make business practices cleaner, fairer and ultimately more honest?
Or is broadcasting a tweet with specific details about a person's transgressions unnecessarily humiliating? And what if, at some point, the information is wrong? Brown makes it clear that employees have the right to an appeal, but by that point, the name attached to the incriminating tweet has already been circulated.
Still, Brown's tactics are an interesting one, raising issues of transparency and accountability.