Ideas for a brighter future for all

Are Australian CEO’s leaders or laggards?

The 2022 Brandpie CEO purpose survey of 1000 CEOs from six major economies – Australia, France, Germany, India, UK, China and USA and found that CEOs across the globe are shifting how they lead their organisations; moving from an unrelenting focus on short-term shareholder value towards a longer-term stakeholder orientation. To do this the CEOs identified a need to focus on their employees and form a meaningful corporate purpose. Although this overall message came forward across the full sample of CEOs, there were some nuances in the results depending on country and Australia had some nuances.

Isolating the responses of the Australian CEOs relative to the rest of the globe, we find that Australian CEOs are less likely to be aiming to turn their organisation into a purposeful sustainable business and developing an ESG policy and strategy, rather they are more likely focused on acquisitions and finding cost efficiencies than market expansion and ESG policy and strategy. 

" ... Australian CEOs are less likely to be aiming to turn their organisation into a purposeful sustainable business ..."
ESG

For example, on average 21% of UK and USA CEOs and 24% of Chinese CEOS are focused on making their businesses sustainable, whereas only 13% of Australian CEOs are pursuing this.  Building on this, just 7% of Australian CEOs, compared to 15% of UK and 13% of USA CEOs, are concerned about ESG policy and a lowly 4% of Australian CEOs, relative to 13% of UK and 8% of USA CEOs, about a diverse and inclusive workforce. Thus, Australian CEOs have some way to go in moving towards the norms of the rest of the world.

This lack of focus of on diversity and ESG policies might be because the approach to value creation favored by Australian CEOs is acquisitions and improved efficiency to reduce costs, wherein 31% of Australian CEOs favored these approaches to creating value relative to just 22% of CEOs from the rest of the world.  Overall, Australian preferences indicate a leaning towards a conventional mindset, that is increasingly being challenged as the business world moves towards a stakeholder orientation.  In this context, it is perhaps of little surprise that Australian CEOs are the least likely relative to CEOs from the UK and USA to be accelerating the development of a corporate purpose.  Across the UK and the USA over two-thirds of CEOs (67%) are accelerating their development of a corporate purpose that is about more than money, whereas only half (51%) of Australian CEOs consider this a priority.

As we head deeper into the 2020s and the challenges of the coming decades, Brandpie is working with Prof. Nick Barter and Prof. Chris Fleming who believe that companies that can link their purpose to their teams and their business ecosystems are going to enable meaningful transformation that the world needs and in so doing deliver long-term stakeholder value.  If you would like to be part of this conversation, please get in touch.

Author

Professor Nick BarterNick Barter is a Professor of Strategy and Sustainability in Griffith Business School. In this context, Nick helps executives and their organisations escape the myopia of conventional business thinking and embrace a Future Normal perspective. Future Normal organizations act meaningfully in their surroundings and purposefully to benefit society. He does this work through providing advisory services to organisations that are shifting to embrace the challenges of the coming decades. Alongside the advisory services, for the last decade he has taught MBA students sustainability and systems thinking on Griffith’s world leading sustainability focused MBA.

Professor Christopher FlemingChristopher Fleming is Professor of Economics and Dean (Research) at the Griffith Business School. Formerly the Director of the Griffith Institute for Tourism (2020-2021) and Director of Griffith University’s MBA program (2015-2020), I teach, research, consult and provide public policy advice on the economic determinants of well-being and the sustainable management of the world around us. As an applied micro-economist, my research and consulting interests include natural resource and environmental economics, climate change economics, tourism economics, social and economic project/program evaluation, sustainable development, and the economic determinants of subjective well-being.

Joanne KerrJoanne Kerr has over 20 years’ experience in marketing, brand and communications in both client and agency environments. Specializing in large, global, B2B organizations she understands the complexity involved in transformation and change at scale and is passionate about the role purpose can play in creating clarity and momentum in these complex environments.

As Strategy Partner at Brandpie, Jo works across brand, culture and campaign projects to develop ideas that build long-lasting behavioral change in people, and ultimately stronger, more sustainable businesses.

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