Author: Carl Rhodes

The Market for Virtue: Why Companies like Qantas are Campaigning for Marriage Equality

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has said he will “be out there strongly campaigning for a Yes vote” in the upcoming marriage equality postal ballot. Dozens of other corporations have signed the Australian Marriage Equality open letter. But companies aren’t being altruistic when they back causes like marriage equality. Research shows that executives pursue ethical behaviour because they think there is a business case for it. This is called the “market for virtue”, in which businesses aim to improve their public image or ward off regulation in exchange for ethical behaviour. But there is little evidence that social responsibility initiatives necessarily result in positive outcomes for businesses. In fact, it may result in worse outcomes for society as a whole, as businesses put their resources behind causes that are already popular and ignore pressing issues such as inequality and stagnating wage growth. The market for virtue Alan Joyce is explicit when he defends Qantas’ support, stating that “there is an economic argument for marriage equality”. Elsewhere Joyce has said there is a business case for supporting …