Virtue Signalling vs Shareholder Values -
Donate today!
Your support will help build a better future.
Your Donation at WorkDonate Now
Tuesday, 23 July
12:30pm - 2:00pm AEST
Wednesday, 24 July
6:00pm - 7:30pm AEST

Virtue Signalling vs Shareholder Values

Corporate activism is on the rise globally, driven by a mix of generational expectations and reputation management and social anxieties. Join Tom Switzer, Simon Cowan & Emilie Dye in Sydney on July 23 or in Hobart on July 24 for a conversation on Australia’s views toward ESG social & shareholder activism.

In recent years, corporations have taken a prominent role in public debate, most notably with the recent referendum over the Indigenous Voice. Business leaders are now expected to, or expect to, take a position on the sometimes-contentious issues facing society.

Many have speculated this is an attempt to appease and attract Gen Z and Millennial staff. Or maybe it is being driven by crisis managers eager to avoid boycotts and social media pile-ons from tech savvy young people. But are Gen Z and Millennials really behind this drive toward ever-increasing corporate activism?

Australia is not the only country seeing companies taking a prominent role in debates over social issues. As can be seen in response to the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States for example, or trans-rights issues in the UK and US, corporate activism is a global phenomenon.

Few, even among the younger generations, seem to think the dollars spent on advocacy come from a place of genuine concern about the causes.

Are corporations truly concerned about social issues or just appeasing younger generations? Should companies use shareholders’ funds for social causes? And are corporations overstepping by taking stands on political issues?

Tom Switzer is the Executive Director at CIS, and formerly hosted Between the Lines on the ABC’s Radio National. He is also a regular contributor to The Australian and the Australian Financial Review.

Simon Cowan is Research Director at CIS. He is a leading commentator on policy and politics, with a regular column in the Canberra Times newspaper and his latest work includes Attitudes to a post-Covid Australia and Millennials and Super: the case for voluntary superannuation.

Emilie Dye is Marketing and Research Analyst for the Intergenerational Program at CIS and a regular contributor on Sky News. She has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from George Washington University in Washington, DC.