There’s a corporate rebellion brewing over fanatical social justice movements

There’s a corporate rebellion brewing over fanatical social justice movements, by Janet Albrechtsen.

The ASX Corporate Governance Council’s frolic into social justice territory is so misguided that the battle over corporate governance is more akin to another chapter in the broader culture wars. And who wins has ramifications for just about every Australian because most of us own shares, directly or through a superannuation fund. The combatants are gambling with our money.

If the social engineers get their way, their colonisation of our culture will move closer to completion. Having secured older, more traditional territories in education, public bureaucracies and other areas that draw on government coffers for funding, their next targets are the profit centres of Australia. They are leading a subterranean push to force Australian companies to mirror their social visions in a way that will alter longstanding legal and commercial principles about the purpose of a company.

This stuff used to happen behind closed doors. Speaking to The Weekend Australian the day after meeting a proxy adviser, a chairman of an ASX 100 listed company said: “In days gone by, (the proxy adviser) would grill me on strategy, financial returns, CEO succession plans etc. But yesterday it was all about diversity on the board and in middle management appointments, our policy on renewables, recycling plans, sustainability and of course climate change.” …

The Corrigan letters are another example of a fanatical social justice movement seeping into corporate Australia. The letters, sent by industry super funds and other corporate activists to Chris Corrigan when he chaired logistics giant Qube Holdings, were out-and-out bullying aimed at putting women on boards, regardless of merit. …

Activists already flexing their muscle over diversity and social responsibility are about to get a shot of social justice steroids thanks to a new set of ASX corporate governance rules. And that explains the insurrection by some business leaders. They are horrified by pages of new prescriptions imposing slippery concepts such as a “social licence to operate”, and acting in a “socially responsible manner”. The new draft suggests it is not socially responsible to engage in “aggressive tax minimisation”. It is socially responsible to offer a “living wage”. There are four long pages, equally vague, expecting companies to deliver, measure and report on diversity targets through­out the company. …

The only possible response by a company:

‘Well, if you’re unhappy, delist us — just delist.’ …

Rule by unelected busybodies:

If ASIC and the ASX are in cahoots to become sneaky backdoor legislators, we need to ask a lot more questions about them. Who are they, who elected these de facto legislators, and what legitimacy do they have?

The risk is that we end up being governed by bureaucrats of second-rate intellect but first-rate ideological zeal — unelected and unelectable activists with an insatiable demand for yet another layer of regulation because they are too incompetent to enforce the legislation they already have.

hat-tip Stephen Neil