Australian CEOs Sound Off
29 January 2014 at 10:39 am
Australian CEOs are proving more socially and environmentally conscious than their global counterparts in thought but not in action, according to new research .
The results from PwC's 17th Annual Global CEO Survey suggest that while Australian CEOs overwhelmingly subscribe to ethical and social business considerations, they are less likely than their global counterparts to prioritise improvements in creating jobs for young people, reducing poverty and inequality, or tackling climate change.
In an overwhelming consensus, some 91 per cent of Australian CEOs flagged the importance of improving diversity and inclusion within the workforce.
A strong majority also supported working to meet societal needs beyond those of investors, customers and employees (77 per cent) and agreed that measuring non-financial impacts contributed to long term success (75 per cent).
Each of these areas was more strongly supported nationally than globally, in some areas by up to 10 per cent, however two additional areas were supported at rates below the global average.
81 per cent of Australian CEOs nominated maintaining integrity of supply chains as important, 10 per cent of the global average, while fewer Australian CEOs than the global average of 95 per cent nominated building a culture of ethical behaviour (89 per cent).
When nominating actual priorities, social and environmental aspects were supported less emphatically.
Some 9 per cent of Australian CEOs were to prioritise reducing poverty (21 per cent globally), 28 per cent were to prioritise creation of jobs for young people (33 per cent global average) and 23 per cent were to work on tackling climate change (26 per cent global average).
The figures come in a time of caution for many Australian CEOs, according to PwC Australia CEO Luke Sayers in his evaluation of the findings.
“Most [global CEOs] are more positive about the global economy than they were last year, as well as the growth prospects for their companies in both the short and longer term. One of the exceptions, however, is Australia’s CEOs. They are cautiously optimistic about the next 12 months, but much less confident about the next three years compared to their regional and global peers.”
Australia’s CEOs also experienced a relatively large decrease in trust from customers and clients (21 per cent). This is in contrast to their global counterparts, who frequently identified this same group as having increased levels of trust in their organisation.
The survey, which aimed to inform and stimulate debate on how businesses are facing today’s challenges, considered the views of 1,344 interviews with CEOs in a range of industries in over 68 countries, including 445 interviews in Asia Pacific and 47 in Australia.
Dennis Nally, Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers International, presented the survey’s key findings at a press briefing held recently in conjunction with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.