Modern corporations in Australia rather than delivering a return to their shareholders and providing satisfactory products to their customers have decided to become involved in social justice campaigns as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and engage in what is known as corporate virtue signalling. This was no more apparent than during the same sex marriage postal survey where almost every major corporation supported the yes campaign.
How did corporations become captured by the social justice lobby? That is the subject of a new analysis paper released by Dr Jeremy Sammut who is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney called Curbing Corporate Social Responsibility: Preventing Politicization – and Preserving Pluralism – in Australian Business. He has also just released the book The Future of Medicare as well as authoring The Madness of Australian Child Protection in 2015.
Jeremy goes through the history of CSR and how modern corporations have embraced it as part of their social license to operate and as a form of risk management. The move to corporations supporting overtly political campaigns involves other social issues such as climate change, indigenous recognition and gender equality. Supporters claim corporations embracing these campaigns is the free market at work but there is a lot of silent uneasiness by stakeholders about their involvement.
There are plans by the Australian Stock Exchange and Australian Institute of Company Directors to put CSR into law for publicly listed companies, they are already required in their annual report to demonstrate they are meeting CSR obligations. Jeremy at the end of his report proposed the The Community Pluralism Principle to part of CSR as a way limit its scope and allow those uneasy with corporations being political to push back against these campaigns.