Bursting CSR virtue-signallers’ bubble

Jeremy Sammut

31 May 2019 | Ideas@TheCentre

Many pundits have been forced to explain why middle Australia not only rejected Bill Shorten’s class war rhetoric but also spurned Labor’s enthusiastic embrace of identity politics and progressive ideology agendas.

To be fair, if you live in the insider bubble, it was easy to miss this story. All our key culture-shaping institutions — schools, universities, the bureaucracy, the media — have embraced identity politics and progressive ideology.

This also includes corporations; Australia’s big public companies, which have done so under the rubric of so-called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The long march of the left is increasingly making our key business institutions inhospitable places for those with conservative and traditional views and values.

Understandably, many people stay silent and consent to progressive ‘social responsibility’ agendas to avoid the social and professional consequences that dissenters from the politically correct consensus can face in these increasingly intolerant and polarised times.

No wonder, therefore, that people working in big corporations prefer to stay quiet, especially given what is at stake: careers, mortgages, school fees, and superannuation.

What is missing is the sound and sensible cultural leadership that can convince people to not remain quiet and confidently speak up for traditional values that are genuinely under threat and at stake in the many-fronted culture war.

In Corporate Virtue Signalling: How To Stop Big Business from Meddling in Politics, I outline the apparent take-over of big business by politically correct lefties.

The book also warns companies that by endorsing progressive agendas, they risk politicising their reputations, and alienating from their brands the millions of conservative members of the community who do not subscribe to such agendas.

The problem is that many corporate leaders may not realise how divisive their CSR politicking is, because they live, work, and socialise with like-minded elites deep inside their inner city ‘bubble’.
Hopefully, the election result will burst this bubble and make corporate elites aware where the true centre of mainstream opinion lies in Australia. Surely, the only ones who won’t get it now are the truly tin-eared.

So now is perhaps an opportune time to introduce a new principle — the Community Pluralism Principle — into the management of companies.

This would hold directors and CEOs accountable for making sure CSR activities don’t stray into meddling in contentious political issues, and instead properly respect the pluralism — the different views and values — of the diverse Australian community.

If this principle was supported at shareholder meetings by the ‘mum and dad’ investors fed up with companies indulging in political activism, the Quiet Australians would send a powerful message to penetrate the dense bubbles of corporate boardrooms: business should halt the corporate virtue signalling — and stick to business.

This is an edited excerpt from an opinion piece published earlier this week in the Daily Telegraph.

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