By Marcus Honesta.
I have recently been reporting on the dangers of a manifesto or doctrine of political correctness creeping into our universities and schools. This is, sadly, socially engineered by the left wing quasi-academia during their extended café latte sessions in certain Surry Hills hemp-filled dens, lollygagging about on taxpayer-funded handouts.
We have also alerted readers to, and have focused on, certain qazi faceless government bodies meddling in our freedom of speech with the introduction of gender bias edicts, restrictive regulations on what they perceive is politically correct stereotyping and a heavy-handed socio-Marxist agenda when it comes to what we see in advertising and promotional materials in the media. Well this plague – and it is as dangerous and insidious as the great plague of 1738 – is threatening to spread to corporate Australia.
One of the most insidious developments festering in this swamp is the rise of identity politics, and this is being embraced wholesale by corporate Australia.
To single out one group would be unfair, for all are guilty to some extent or another. However, some of the chief protagonists are the banks, posing as moral arbiters and lecturing us about “climate responsibility” and “diversity and inclusion”, whilst blatantly stealing from their customer base. It has taken a Royal Commission to flush out the truths of the criminal conduct of some of these charlatans, who openly practice common theft on a daily basis.
Yet they dare to stand on the moral high ground and would have us believe that they care about our community at large, with recent donations to the drought appeal and low-interest loans for farmers.
But who could forget the mournful bleating of the Commonwealth Bank’s marketing and PR spokespeople at a hastily convened press conference where they proclaimed: “The actions of Steve Smith [the former Australian Cricket Captain] are incompatible with our core brand values.” This was in relation to the ball-tampering saga that engulfed the Australian cricket team during its recent tour of South Africa. They unceremoniously fired Smith in a public display of moral self-righteousness.
Yet were the same spokespeople sobbing and admitting that the direct theft of $124 million from their customer base was “incompatible with their core brand values”? Or perhaps their core brand values only relate to morals, not money.
At what point has it become required or desired for corporations to be social engineers? Take, for example, the position Rugby Australia found itself in when it endeavoured to dip its oar into the waters of the whole gay rights issue.
Israel Folau, one of their star players and a devout Christian, expressed a very personal view on homosexuality and its practice. This view has purportedly enraged the gay community.
Folau wrote on social media that: “gays would go to hell unless they repented their sins”. He tweeted again a few Sundays later, using a Bible quote from Matthew 5 to suggest he was being persecuted for his beliefs.
Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle was completely out of her depth, issuing a lily-livered statement saying that Rugby Australia confirmed that its marketing director Kevin Nicholls had told the game’s administrators and sponsors that Folau’s views “did not match our brand values”.
NSW Waratahs chief Andrew Hore was dispatched to discuss his (Folau’s) views with him one-on-one, and to try to dissuade him from further social media comment that could be considered homophobic or bigoted. It is, however, understood that Folau believes he is being discriminated against for his beliefs. He may have a point.
The snivelling libertarians at Qantas have said they were “very disappointed’’ in Folau and may have to re-evaluate their sponsorship position after his meeting with Rugby Australia. Additionally, Land Rover, which had an $850,000 sponsorship deal with Rugby Australia, cancelled it.
Not surprisingly, many religious leaders have taken to the media, supporting Folau’s right to his personal beliefs and the basic human right of freedom of speech.
Dr. Glenn Davies, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney
Dr. Glenn Davies, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, said the way Folau was treated would be a test of Rugby Australia’s inclusion policy. “Israel Folau should be free to hold and express traditional, biblical views on marriage and sexuality without being penalised, just as other players have spoken out with their differing views,” he said.
“Many of Australia’s major corporations are fixating on what would appear to be political and social issues rather than marketing ones.” Well said, Dr. Davies.
Then of course we come to the hot potato of last year, the same-sex marriage campaign.
We saw it during the lead-up, when more than 30 CEOs representing some of Australia’s largest companies, including Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Holden, Telstra, MYOB, Football Federation of Australia, and the National Rugby League, sent a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, urging him to legislate for marriage equality.
It outlined the benefits of marriage equality for business, employees, customers and the country.
In part it states:
“In the globally competitive marketplace, customers are becoming more discerning and are selecting products and services from companies that better represent their values.”
“By supporting marriage equality, businesses send a powerful message to their customers that they think fairness, equality and dignity should be available to all Australians.”
“Enabling loving, committed couples to be married, regardless of their sexual orientation, will contribute to a stronger economy and a more inclusive Australia.”
Are they so naive as to believe that this was the most important issue in the nation at that time? Or were they hoodwinked and swept along by a populist, extremely vocal, inner-city minority, starving for a cause and fuelled by the leftist lobby that runs the ABC and certain sections of the media these days.
I strongly doubt that in the majority of homes in the western suburbs of Sydney, where people are struggling to pay their ever-increasing electricity bills, grocery bills, school fees, rent and/or mortgages, this was a subject that occupied much of their time around the kitchen table of a morning. Maybe I’m wrong?
But politically correct virtue-signalling is now baked into the key performance indicators of most big companies, thanks to bloated human resources departments with nothing useful to do, and perhaps some sort of misguided guilt complex among their privileged senior management.
Now, thank goodness, the Centre for Independent Studies has aimed its lasers at the worst excesses of what is more politely known as “Corporate Social Responsibility”, or CSR, with a paper by research fellow Dr Jeremy Sammut released just recently.
“Curbing Corporate Social Responsibility: Preserving Pluralism — and Preventing Politicisation — in Australian Business” finds that corporate meddling in contentious political debates is in danger of becoming entrenched in law.
Sammut writes of the push to include a “social licence” in the Australian Stock Exchange’s proposed corporate governance guidelines, that would require companies to earn a so-called “social licence” by being “socially responsible” on politically contentious issues such as human rights, climate change, taxation and wages.
“Corporate meddling in political issues that have only tenuous — if any — links to business interests is the line that CSR should not cross, if it is to avoid companies becoming inappropriately politicised. CSR activists want nothing less than a licence to play politics with shareholders’ money,” he writes.
They want to “subvert companies from traditional business towards open political activism”.
“This is revealed by the activist mindset of CSR professionals who assert that the next stage involves business’s ‘role in society as a driver of change’ and enabling companies to participate in driving ‘systemic change’ around social, environmental and economic issues,” Dr Sammut said.
Dr Jeremy Sammut
“On this understanding of the ultimate focus of CSR, the business of business will not just be CSR in the best interests of the business — the business of business will be politics.”
He argues for a new principle to be “introduced into the language and practice of good corporate governance: the Community Pluralism Principle, which would ensure that shareholders aren’t neglected and social activism doesn’t take precedence over the company’s core business mission.”
The overwhelming message to business should be: stay in the boardroom and out of the bedroom. Businesses are not elected. They are not there to make up community values or set social standards or agendas. They are there to represent their shareholders and sell their companies’ products. It goes without saying that they must be good corporate citizens. Paying their fair share of corporate tax (Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon) would be a good place to start, rather than shifting earnings from Australia to some far-flung tax haven. Oh no! Paying tax isn’t part of a “social licence” or being “socially responsible”.
Far too often we have seen the so-called moral compass set by businesses to be self-serving and opportunist. Get back to making your widgets or whatever it is you make, and leave the moral fibre of the community to those who have no profit to make in the decisions they take on its behalf.