While corporate Australia has been outspoken in support of same-sex marriage as a means of providing equality in the workplace, SMEs are taking a very different stance in the debate.
In a poll on the My Business website, readers were asked the question: “As an employer, how will you be voting in the marriage equality postal survey?”
Of the 383 responses, the majority (51.4 per cent) of business leaders said they would vote ‘no’ in the same-sex marriage poll.
Just over a third (38.9 per cent) of respondents said they would vote ‘yes’, and a further 3.7 per cent said they remain ‘undecided’.
With the postal survey being voluntary rather than the usual compulsory voting in elections and the completion of Census forms, 6 per cent of respondents said they planned to abstain from voting altogether.
The results of the poll are in stark contrast to larger opinion polls conducted among the general public, which show support for changing marriage laws to include same-sex couples above 60 per cent.
It is also somewhat surprising, given that the bulk of corporate Australia has been pushing for a ‘yes’ vote – as a means of simplifying HR documentation, leave provisions and other personnel matters, as well as demonstrating a neutral stance for their customers and employees alike regardless of their partner’s gender.
Pedro Diaz, founder of the Workplace Mental Health Institute, warned that regardless of the outcome of the vote, employers would likely face an increased workplace health and safety burden as the very public debate became increasingly ugly, affecting the mental health and wellbeing of workers on both sides.
“Not because of the topic itself, it’s because of the reactions people are having – they are having really emotive reactions on both sides of the fence. And by emotive, I’m not talking about good emotions, I’m talking about conflict – high levels of conflict,” he told My Business.
“Remember that being valued in the workplace is one of the elements of good mental health.”