Why corporate Australia should resist the Left’s social engineers

Why corporate Australia should resist the Left’s social engineers, by Janet Albrechtsen.

Having successfully colonised other areas of our society, the Left’s long march through institutions now extends into corporate Australia. An army of new activist regulators is steadily, and stealthily, imposing highly contestable social agendas on listed corporations using language that resembles psychobabble. …

The ASX Corporate Governance Council appears to have been hijacked by self-appointed activists acting as quasi-legislators to impose social agendas on corporate Australia. Activists such as the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, a body that spends more time on demanding corporate acquiescence on social issues than on seeking sound governance tailored to a company’s core business.

Inserting deliberately ambiguous words about diversity, social responsibility, a social licence to operate and so on into ASX corporate governance principles provides activists such as ACSI with new and potent weapons to blackmail corporate Australia into following favoured social agendas. …

An example from the proposed new fourth edition of the ASX corporate governance principles:

The present version says listed companies should act ethically and responsibly. Who can object to that? The new draft goes further, requiring a listed entity to act in a “socially responsible manner”. New commentary in principle 3 goes even further, referring to companies respecting “human rights”, providing a “living wage” and not engaging in “aggressive tax minimisation strategies” — all highly contestable concepts more suitable at a UN gabfest than as sound governance for a stock exchange.

There is only one thing clear from these deliberately contestable concepts: they will become weapons for activists to harass, intimidate and blackmail boards at AGMs. That is what they have been designed to do. It’s hard to work out who will be more deliriously happy with the ASX — environmental activists or lawyers. …

Indeed, it’s not a stretch to say that the third edition of ASX corporate governance rules has buggered up corporate governance in this country. The ASX has been more focused on diversity targets and other social issues than sound, individually tailored governance processes within a corporation.

hat-tip Stephen Neil