Elliott: community, causes & social licence

Large organisations like banks must take a stand on community issues, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott says, because their actions inevitably have an impact on the communities in which they operate, leaving them a responsibility to represent those causes

“Everything we do, what we say, how we behave actually has an impact on the whole of Australia and New Zealand,” he told the latest edition of The ANZ Way podcast.

" In order to be successful in the long term of course we need, not just social licence to operate, [but] social support.” – Shayne Elliott

“So for us to say ‘Oh, we’re just not gonna have a point of view on these things’ to me makes absolutely no sense.” 

Elliott says the bank’s official causes - financial wellbeing, the environment and housing affordability – are issues the bank hopes the community will see ANZ as a credible voice on.

Elliott says he is an advocate of the idea business must do more than just make a profit – but that also profit and community advocacy are intrinsically aligned.

“We’re here for the long term and in order to be successful in the long term of course we need, not just social licence to operate, [but] social support,” he said.  

Elliott said shifting community expectations were one of the reasons it supported the concept of a Royal Commission into the financial services sector – but was adamant the causes were not a result of the inquiry.

“We accept that we have not necessarily behaved to the standards we should have in the past,” he said. “We’re really busy on identifying those failures and remediating them.”

“We personally don’t think there’s a need for a Royal Commission… but we understand there’s that community desire.”

“We are prepared to be accountable for what we’ve done in the past and what we’re doing now about the future.”

He also touched on how the bank’s purpose and causes were changing who it chooses to bank. Listen to the podcast above to find out more – or head to The ANZ Way for the full interview.

Sally Warhaft is a broadcaster, anthropologist and writer

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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