Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has stood firm in his marriage equality support and said many shareholders will only invest in companies with a “good corporate social responsibility.”
In an interview with GQ Australia magazine (via The Australian), Mr Joyce (pictured, right) explained how he felt when Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told him to stay out of the debate and “stick to his knitting”.
“When you’ve been in this job as long as I have, you get a thick neck on things — you have to be very hard-nosed in your approach and your view and not be intimidated by anybody,” Mr Joyce told the publication.
“What’s important is that people understand what we’re saying — which is that parliament should just get on and do something about marriage equality, most Australians are fed up with this and just want it to happen.
“The reaction from all our stakeholders to our efforts on marriage equality has been overwhelmingly positive, and there are a lot of shareholders these days who will only invest in companies that have good corporate social responsibility.
“I’ve also had so many employees saying it’s great that Qantas is supporting this cause, because it affects so many of the 30,000 people who work here.
“We’re very happy with sticking to our knitting, but our knitting involves being part of the community, and our knitting involves us being outspoken on issues like this.”
Last month, tennis great Margaret Court (pictured) sparked a national furore with a letter to a Western Australian newspaper in which she announced she would boycott Qantas over the airline’s support for the reform.
And a couple of weeks earlier, Perth man Tony Overheu was charged with assault for hitting Mr Joyce in the face with a pie at a business breakfast, also because of the airline’s stance.
Mr Joyce was one of 30 CEOs who signed a joint letter in March urging Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to legislate for marriage equality.
He explained at the time Qantas was part of the community and had “given its support widely.”
“Charity flights for drought relief. Awareness raising for homelessness. Transporting volunteer firefighters around the country. Lots of companies do similar things,” he said.
“Qantas’ identity is the Spirit of Australia, and one of the most fundamental values in this country is the notion of a fair go.
“That’s why Qantas speaks up on gender equality. And recognising our Indigenous people. And for marriage equality. I have no doubt we’ll add to this list as time goes on.”