Corporate Australia has been throwing its weight behind same-sex marriage, pressuring politicians, customers and even their own employees to support the cause. Freedoms at work are under attack and even the charities and organisations that employees support in their personal time are under scrutiny.
Despite their belief that jumping on to the seemingly ‘trendy’ cause of same-sex marriage, a recent column in The Australian pointed out just how out of touch these corporations really are. Journalist Nick Cater wrote that in the frantic rush to back same-sex marriage, the corporate chief executives who recently lobbied the Prime Minister to renege on the promised people’s vote have ignored the views of mainstream Australia:
“They have failed to move the broader public, which is becoming increasingly irritated by well-paid people who dress in expensive suits presuming to tell them what they should think.
What were these captains of corporate Australia imagining as they gazed down from the opulence of the executive floor and concluded they, of all people, could break the impasse in this protracted moral debate?
Their self-regard appears to be as bloated as their salaries. Corporate chief executives are among the least trusted members of Australian society.”
The lack of trustworthiness, Cater explains, is not related to a perceived lack of social activism but rather a real disconnect between corporate Australia and the customers they supposedly serve:
“When respondents are asked why they don’t trust business, the lack of a comprehensive inclusion and diversity policy or insufficient awareness of the wellness of its employees does not feature.
Their concerns are immediate and practical rather than abstract and symbolic. International tax avoidance tops the list, followed by executive pay and the relocation of jobs offshore.”
In a sense, the “moral crusade” described here seems like a clever way to divert attention from other issues in business. However, it is not the way to restore trust with customers and the public. Businesses need to get out of the political game and get back to work.
If you value all your customers, not just the 10 per cent who Twitter, it would be sensible to stay clear of this stuff. Running a profitable business that invests in jobs, pays its taxes and provides quality goods and services at a competitive price remains the biggest contribution a chief executive can make to society.
Yet executives and boards find it hard to resist the lure of corporate social responsibility and the vindictive campaigns launched on companies that fail to comply.”
As an example, the reputation of United Airlines will hardly be revived by its raft of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives. Similarly, companies like Qantas, Optus and Unilever hardly help their case in the eyes of ordinary Australians when they pander to vocal minorities by backing trendy issues.
Sign our open letter to let corporates know they are out of touch.