CEDA poll: Victorians expect more from business than just profits



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Victorians expect a broad contribution from business, focused not just on the bottom line, but on their workforce as well, Victorian results out today from a nationwide poll show.

The Victoria-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 Victorian findings, CEDA Chief Executive Melinda Cilento said the report found strong areas of alignment but also areas of disconnect.
Ms Cilento said while the results from Victoria were broadly aligned with national results, there were a few key exceptions, the main one being that Victorians were more likely to believe that  large companies should do as much as they can to improve the whole country’s social performance (47 per cent vs 43 per cent nationally) as well as the whole country’s environmental performance (51 per cent vs 47 per cent nationally).

“Victorians have shown that they care about social and environmental issues,” Ms Cilento said.
“Compared to nationwide trends, Victorians also placed greater priority than the national average on large companies employing more people.
“In line with the national results, more than three-quarters of Victorians accepted business leaders speaking out on issues of national importance, including social and environmental issues.
“Victorians also rated the performance of large companies across most areas lower than the national average. On average, the proportion of Victorians rating large companies’ performance as good or very good was four percentage points lower than the national results (55 per cent vs 59 per cent nationally).
“Ultimately, these results reflect the concerns and interests of the communities in which businesses operate. How these concerns and interests are addressed will determine community trust in and support for business; and in turn, the extent of community support for policy reforms that are essential to keeping the business sector and our economy competitive and strong.”
Ethical behaviour of large companies
Ms Cilento said that the poll showed the Victorian community still had some question marks around the 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,” she 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 26 per cent of Victorians, 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,” Ms 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.”

Download: Victorian results
Download: Company Pulse national results
The Victorian results will be presented at an event in Melbourne today at the Sofitel Melbourne, from 12-2pm. Speakers include KPMG National Chair, Alison Kitchen, and Ms Cilento. The event is open to media.
Further information:
Melinda Cilento is available for further comment and interviews. The Victorian 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.