The West 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 WA 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 WA were broadly aligned with national results, there were a few key exceptions, the main one being that people from WA were more likely to believe that out of all stakeholders large companies have a lot of responsibility to their local communities where they operate (53 per cent vs 48 per cent nationally).
Mr Ball said other key areas where Western Australian results differed to national results included:
- West Australians are also less likely to believe that shareholders are the most important stakeholders for corporate leaders (six per cent vs nine per cent nationally).
- West Australians are more likely to suggest that large companies are good or very good at managing the impacts on communities where they operate (61 per cent vs 55 per cent nationally).
- West Australians are less likely to suggest that large companies are good or very good in terms of fair and correct tax contributions (41 per cent vs 45 per cent nationally).
“As a resources state social licence to operate has been an important focus for many businesses operating in WA so it is unsurprising this has come through in the results,” 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.
“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 33 per cent of West Australians, 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.”
Download: West Australian Company Pulse snapshot
Download: Company Pulse national results
The West Australian results will be presented at an event in Perth today at the Kim E. Beazley Lecture Theatre at Murdoch University, from 4.30-7pm. Speakers include CGM Communications Executive Director and Founder, Daniel Smith and Mr Ball. The event is open to media.
Jarrod Ball is available for further comment and interviews. The West Australian Company Pulse snapshot can be accessed here.
The full Company Pulse report can be downloaded here.
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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.