The Community of Business

30 April 2008

The ‘business of business’ is to achieve sound returns as well as remaining competitive.

In recent years, the forces of globalisation, together with increased competition and the growing complexity of Australia’s economy, have made this focus even more singular.

We also live in a shareholder society. More than half of Australians have a direct or indirect stake in the performance of business through investments in listed companies, managed funds or super schemes.

As a result, the demands, perceptions and expectations many have of business are tied directly to their investment portfolios. It is not surprising the role and function of business is defined largely in terms of projected profits, market share, earnings and dividends.

Within this environment however, the importance of business to Australia’s overall economy and society can be easily overlooked.

Though the ‘business of business’ is about combining financial resources with the work and skills of individuals to produce goods and services for consumers here and overseas, there are significant by-products of this process.

Taxes paid, employment provided and investment made in social, research and educational areas – as well as wealth created for investors and shareholders – are also significant outcomes.

Much of the wealth and economic welbeing of Australian society is dependent on this ‘community of business’.

This report aims to define and explain the role that Member companies of  the Business Council of Australia play in this process. Their contribution to Australia‘s overall community is not readily understood, and the report aims to bring greater clarity and understanding of the far-reaching role of big business in Australian economic and social life.

The BCA surveyed its membership of 100 leading corporations to quantify the significant contribution of Australia’s largest companies in spreading value to the community as well as shareholders. 

The Community of Business report contains aggregated data of survey responses and also includes CEO forecasts on company and economic performance, as well as the opportunities for and the threats to business success over the medium term.

The report demonstrates the ways large businesses in Australia not only create wealth for shareholders, but contribute to the social, environmental and economic wealth of the cities and regions they operate, and more broadly through employment, R&D, taxes and exports.

The Community of Business found that BCA Member companies:

  • Account for one-third of Australia’s total export revenue.
  • Paid $18 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends annually.
  • Employ 900,000 people, including 250,000 in rural and regional areas. 
  • Contribute approximately half of their annual revenues of $338 billion as payment to suppliers in other, mostly smaller, businesses.
  • Contributed over $500 million and over 600,000 staff hours on social, community and environmental programs across Australia.

Download a copy of The Community of Business here.



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