Aussies Care More About Human Rights Than Shareholder Rights
19 November 2015 at 10:50 am
Most Australians believe businesses should have ethical responsibilities, placing human rights and environmental concerns way above companies’ duty to return a profit to shareholders, a new survey has revealed.
The survey of more than 1,000 Australians came at a time when the country has been criticised by the UN for its poor human rights record and is viewed globally as one of the worst performing countries when it comes to cutting emissions.
Commissioned by business conference Purpose, the research shows two-thirds of Australians believed businesses have a responsibility to reduce the environmental impact humans have on the world.
Fifty-seven per cent said businesses should stand up for human rights and have the responsibility to alleviate poverty, while fewer than half (45 per cent) of respondents named returning a profit to shareholders as a business responsibility.
From a generational perspective, 61 per cent of 18 to 29 years old respondents believed businesses should stand up for human rights and have the responsibility to alleviate poverty, compared to just over 50 per cent of over 50s.
Purpose founder, Sally Hill, said the research showed a growing discontent with the current state of capitalism.
“Consumer attitudes more than legislation will force businesses to conduct themselves in a more ethical manner,” Hill said.
“The new generation of thinkers and doers wants to change the world and companies are going to have to adapt.”
The Purpose research also showed men were much more likely to rate the quest for profit highly (52 per cent) compared to women (32 per cent). When it came to the environment, slightly more women believed businesses were responsible (68 per cent compared to 65 per cent of men), and the same trend was observed around human rights, where 58 per cent of women thought businesses were responsible versus 55 per cent of men.
“There is a way for businesses to behave ethically and make money at the same time. Increasingly we're seeing business can play a role in solving our big social and environmental challenges rather than causing them or creating new ones,” Hill said.
“The future belongs to businesses who have a strong social or environmental purpose, and have embedded this into their business model.”