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Australia: Qantas & Virgin chief executives reject Govt's call for companies to resist campaigning on social issues

"Qantas and Virgin bosses reject Morrison government calls to be silent on social issues", 18 September 2019

The chief executives of Australia’s major airlines have warned they will not be silent on social issues, with Qantas’s Alan Joyce arguing it was not just “morally right” but also in its business interests to fight for marriage equality.

...Joyce and Virgin Australia’s Paul Scurrah both pushed back against calls from Scott Morrison and his assistant minister, Ben Morton, for corporates to resist social campaigning on issues including the environment.

....When asked about advocacy, Joyce replied that “good companies” would intervene on both social and economic issues....

“We’re not going to pull back on what we say on social issues, because that’s important to our employees, our customers and our shareholders,” he told reporters.

Qantas supported marriage equality not just because it was “the morally right thing to do” but because there was a “great business case for it”, he said, citing the fact employees wanted the company to stand up on the issue and Generation Y wanted to work for a company “with a social conscience”.

“To get talent, you need to be out there on social issues. We know that environmental issues are a big issue worldwide. There are people that are not travelling in Europe because of [global warming so] we need to address it.”

Scurrah said Virgin had been “very strong” in advocating for environmental and mental health causes and was “very focused” on hitting targets for reducing carbon emissions.

“You will hear us use our brand to push whatever cause we think needs to be pushed at that time,” he said. “We will speak up when we need to.”

Asked about the Coalition’s proposed religious discrimination bill, Joyce said he hoped that consultation would help achieve “an outcome that … continues to allow us to have an inclusive workplace”.