The increasingly hostile debate around marriage equality looks set to scalp a group of unintended victims, as the Australian Christian Lobby introduces talk of business boycotts.
Lyle Shelton of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) group told The Australian Financial Review that boycotts of businesses which oppose his campaign’s stance against same-sex marriage are “always a possibility”.
However, Mr Shelton admitted boycotts would be a difficult strategy to implement, given the large number of Australian corporates that support equality among their workforce and customer base.
“They’ve got Qantas and Virgin, the banks and many of the insurance companies. So it’s very difficult for the average consumer to take their business elsewhere,” he was quoted as saying.
His comments make no reference to SMEs, though, which by their very size would be much easier for activists to boycott.
If a recent My Business poll is anything to go by, the majority of SMEs are hoping to stay mum on the issue and wait for it to reach a resolution, one way or another.
In the poll, conducted in June 2017 before the postal plebiscite was unveiled, two-thirds (67.6 per cent) of respondents said businesses should not add their voice to social debates.
Yet trying to stay neutral in the debate may also backfire, as consumers look to spend their money with firms that share their values.
“Every choice has a social dimension, and businesses have not just a place, but an obligation to take a position,” My Business reader Free Flight Emu wrote in response to the poll.
“It is their choice how public they are about their choices, but just as they are free to choose, it is the choice of the consumer whether to buy from them or another service/supplier more aligned with their values.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.