During the same sex marriage postal survey many have rightly questioned the appropriateness of corporations pledging their support for same sex marriage considering their focus should be delivering satisfactory service to their customers and a profit for their shareholders.
Added to this these corporations are also disregarding the fact that they have many employees who may not agree with same sex marriage. Those opposed may feel that they cannot express their views publicly as it could affect their employment.
One corporation has gone one step further than simple statement of support with the Westpac’s internal staff Youth Network sending an email to all employees at both Westpac and its sister bank St George telling them to vote yes in the postal survey. Part of the email was quoted by the Australian “While we’re not one to tell anyone how to roll, this is a no-brainer (if Tony Abbott’s daughter is publicly voting Yes, so should you)”.
This is an unprecedented level of workplace intimidation by a corporation designed to influence the private democratic vote of their employees. You also noticed they had a swipe at specific politician in Tony Abbott. A spokesperson for the bank had the nerve to still claim they were not telling their employees how to vote but defended the actions of their youth network.
There as been a lot of concern about if same sex marriage is legislated what will it mean for freedom of speech. One should be asking these corporations what would happen to their employees if they still maintained their belief marriage was between a man and a women? They should also be called upon to respect the free speech of their employees once such legislation is passed.
Peter Dutton who had already given corporate Australia a serve earlier in the year for their campaigning on same sex marriage when he told them to “get back to their knitting” reiterated this view when asked about it during his weekly appearance on Ray Hadley’s 2GB program.
If the plebiscite returns a yes vote then the conversation must turn to how to protect fundamental freedoms. Actions such as what we saw from Westpac today are reasons to be concerned.
Correction: The original version of this article referenced the National Australia Bank which had nothing to do with the emails discussed.