Between the PwC tax scandal, the Optus and Medibank data breaches, Harvey Norman’s JobKeeper cash grab, Rio Tinto's destruction of the Juukan Gorge and Qantas’ refusal to pay back $2.7 billion in COVID government handouts, Aussies have never been more distrusting of corporate Australia.
Since 2020, the poor behaviour of corporate Australia under the ‘cover of COVID’ has led to dramatically soaring distrust, not only for individual brands but for the entire economy, according to Roy Morgan.
In 2023, corporate distrust deteriorated even further as consumers faced economic uncertainty and grappled with successive data breaches and corporate scandals.
Respondents told Roy Morgan the poor behaviour revealed a ‘moral blindness’ to what was ethical and in the community’s interest rather than solely in the shareholders’ interest.
“All the reasons are currently emblazoned across our newspapers. Excessive greed and arrogance and seeming absence of professional integrity,” one Aussie told Roy Morgan.
“Corrupt; too much access to power has gone to their collective head; seem to have no mechanisms for maintaining integrity.”
Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said this alarming increase in distrust following major scandals showed the dire consequences of moral blindness and reinforced the importance of ethics in business.
“From the onset of COVID, corporate leaders had to respond with agility, often sidestepping the checks and balances. This got many of them through the pandemic recession,” Levine said.
“The pandemic made it easier for leaders to look the other way, to avoid facing the ethical repercussions of their behaviour.
“Fundamentally, we need to arrest this trend and embrace a decency principle while, at the same time, ensuring company directors put distrust on their boards’ risk registers.”