Big Business Shows Leadership in Closing the Gap

New research by the Business Council of Australia confirms the leadership role its members are playing in finding new ways to help close the gap on Indigenous opportunity.

BCA Chief Executive Katie Lahey said the report, Common Ground, Uncommon Results: Closing the Gap, shows that member companies are increasingly active in developing creative strategies to increase Indigenous engagement in the Australian economy.

“The BCA established an annual survey last year to identify, promote and share lessons from what our members were doing to help close unacceptable gaps,” said Ms Lahey. “This year, 46 of our member companies responded, a 30 per cent increase on last year.

“When you consider the size and reach of these businesses, their commitment on this issue and what can be learned through their efforts is significant.”

Ms Lahey said the survey report is designed to:

  • raise awareness about what business can do to improve opportunities and outcomes for Indigenous Australians
  • share information about what works, what doesn’t and why
  • encourage more businesses to develop their own business case for getting involved, and
  • promote collaboration and partnerships.

The report is based on an analysis of information collected through an online survey prepared and conducted by KPMG in conjunction with the BCA.

“While the results indicate a clear focus on lifting Indigenous employment opportunities, member companies are involved in an increasingly diverse range of initiatives.

“The importance of collaboration with Indigenous partners is a consistent theme in what members see as a key to lasting success.” 

The new report reflects progress since the first survey last year, including:

  • 40 companies now have Indigenous engagement initiatives, compared with 28 last year
  • 29 companies have Indigenous employment and/or traineeship strategies, compared with 21 last year
  • 21 companies have specific Indigenous employment goals or targets, compared with 14 last year, and
  • 14 companies have completed Reconciliation Action Plans, compared with 9 last year.

“One of the main challenges highlighted in the report is the need to better connect Indigenous Australians to employment opportunities,” said Ms Lahey. “There are valuable lessons here for policy makers in lifting the quality of education and training outcomes, and improving the matching of employer needs with the skills/aspirations of potential candidates. 

“The survey results show there is clearly scope for more companies to be involved, and the progress being made by those who are involved is often slow and challenging.

“But the strong common ground between business, the community and all sides of politics in our determination to close the gap is cause for real optimism, we believe. We are inspired by the case studies contained in the new survey and members are deeply committed to maintaining their leadership role.

Common Ground, Uncommon Results: Closing the Gap