CEDA poll: South Australians expect more from business than just profits



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South Australians expect a broad contribution from business, focused not just on the bottom line, but on social and environmental performance as well, SA results out today from a nationwide poll show.

The South Australian-specific results out today are part of CEDA’s nationwide poll of more than 3000 people, Company Pulse 2019, that examines community expectations of business and their views on the most important priorities for business.
The results include community views on ethical business behaviour, business leaders speaking on social and environmental issues and intergenerational differences regarding business priorities.
Commenting on the South Australian findings, CEDA Chief Economist Jarrod Ball said the report found strong areas of alignment but also areas of disconnect.
Mr Ball said while the results from South Australia (SA) were broadly aligned with national results, there were a few key exceptions, the main one being that South Australians placed a higher priority than the national average on large companies employing more people and paying small business suppliers more promptly.
“South Australians are also more likely to suggest that large companies should be equally concerned with their economic,social and environmental performance (79 per cent vs 72 per cent nationally),” he said,
Mr Ball said South Australians were also generally more favourable in their views of company performance, with a larger proportion rating large companies as good or very good for:

  • Fair pay rates for staff (66 per cent vs 60 per cent nationally); and
  • Positively managing the impacts on communities in which they operate (61 per cent vs 55 per cent nationally).
 South Australians were also more likely to agree that large companies are more ethical than they used to be (54 per cent vs 46 per cent nationally) and to believe that when corporate leaders speak out it is in the national interest (59 per cent vs 46 per cent nationally).
“Overall South Australians appear to have a more positive outlook on the performance of business across multiple domains than other states,” Mr Ball said.
Ethical behaviour of large companies
Mr Ball said that while the poll showed favourable perceptions of large company performance across key areas, the community still had some question marks around ethical behaviour of large companies.
“The community and business leaders agree that the public now has higher ethical standards for large companies, but there was less consensus on whether companies are behaving more ethically,” he said.
“Interestingly where the general public and business leaders align is shared scepticism around the consequences of unethical conduct.
“Only 30 per cent of the general public, including 34 per cent of the SA public, and 42 per cent of business leaders believe the government takes strong action against unethical behaviour. Similarly, most believe that the consequences of a company acting unethically are modest or short term at best.”
CEDA’s research supporting a reform agenda
“CEDA has undertaken this work to better understand community expectations against the backdrop of declining trust in business and the need to reignite a reform agenda in Australia,” CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento said.
“We need a reinvigorated reform agenda that will support new investment and opportunities for economic and social development in Australia.
“For reforms to be supported and successful they will need to reflect the insights and needs of all sectors, including business. However, negative community sentiment and lack of trust in the business sector could act as a handbrake on reforms in the national interest.
“A vibrant and competitive business sector is vital to enabling the development and adoption of new technologies that will secure future opportunities for investors, employees and customers.
“Equally, benefits such as improved government services and infrastructure rely on a resilient revenue base supported by a strong business sector paying taxes and playing its part.
“The community and business need to be on the same page if we are to progress policy reform that will deliver benefits to both.
“Our survey shows that there are strong areas of alignment around which trust in business can be rebuilt, particularly if the points of disconnect identified become a focus for serious consideration and engagement.”
The South Australian results will be presented at an event in Adelaide today at The Science Exchange, from 12-2pm. Speakers include Business SA Chief Executive Officer, Martin Haese and Mr Ball. The event is open to media.
Further information:
Jarrod Ball is available for further comment and interviews. The South Australian Company Pulse snapshot can be accessed here. The full Company Pulse report can be downloaded here.
Media contacts:
Roxanne Punton, Director, External Affairs
Mobile: 0409 532 287 | Email: roxanne.punton@ceda.com.au
Eleanor Green, Media and Communications Advisor
Mobile: 0408 375 600 | Email: eleanor.green@ceda.com.au

About CEDA

CEDA – the Committee for Economic Development of Australia – is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation. We identify policy issues that matter for Australia’s future and pursue solutions that deliver better economic, social and environmental outcomes for Australia. CEDA's cross-sector membership of 770 spans every state and territory and includes Australia's leading businesses, community organisations, government departments and academic institutions. CEDA was founded in 1960 by leading economist Sir Douglas Copland. His legacy of applying economic analysis to practical problems to aid the development of Australia continues to drive our work today