Alan Joyce, chief executive officer of Australia’s national airline Qantas, recently uttered some menacing words toward those who do not share his personal support for same-sex marriage: “If you’re unhappy with a company that’s involved with the (same-sex marriage) campaign, you won’t be able to bank and you won’t be able to fly anywhere.”
While we are all supposedly guaranteed the right to an equal voice, columnist Angela Shanahan cites Telstra’s flipping on marriage as an example of how some voices are considered more “equal” than others.
…this raises several questions, one being the potential for corporate sponsorship to be used by powerful chief executives to further a personal agenda.
Why should the church support an organisation that is campaigning against a vital element of its social and moral teachings? Why is it accepted that it is ethical for a public company to pursue a change in the marriage laws, particularly a telco, during a period of political campaigning? Who has more right to stand by ethical, social and moral teachings, the church or Telstra and Qantas?
What would we think if Catholic organisations were to provide only to Catholics those services they now provide in the community? What if church organisations employed only Catholics? What if Catholics, or Muslims, ran organisations that virtually forced their employees and those doing business with them to profess the tenants of Catholicism, or at least not express any contrary position if they wanted to be promoted?
Joyce, who himself is openly gay, has said that he considers it “important from a business perspective” and for diversity that the airline push for the redefinition of marriage. But the real irony is in Joyce’s words last summer: “You (as a business) have to have be in a position where people are coming through an organisation and do not feel that they have to hide who they are in order to succeed. It doesn’t give us the full capabilities and potential of the people that are working for us.”
Does Joyce not see that, by unilaterally declaring support for one side of a heated and divisive social issue, he is putting half of his own employees and customers in a position of having to hide who they are and what they believe? Shanahan adds, “There is a vast difference between maintaining responsible and ethical standards in business practices and foisting views about controversial social policy issues on to clients.”
And then there’s the pertinent question of who is paying. How many powerful corporate bosses are using company funds to strategically push their same-sex marriage agenda?
How much shareholder money is spent at Qantas or Telstra or any of the other companies to push this agenda? Who organises these strategies, the numerous corporate breakfasts addressed by Joyce and other chief executives?
How democratic is this corporate campaign? Is the public being manipulated into a foregone conclusion on the plebiscite? What business does business have in getting involved in a matter of social policy and sexual morality that is the subject of a plebiscite?
It seems that several large corporations do not want the people of Australia to decide on marriage – they would rather side with extremists and resort to bullying customers, employees, suppliers, and stakeholders into going along with their agenda.