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ASX governance council dumps ‘social licence to operate’ from guidanceND

Joanna Mather, Australian Financial Review, Thursday 28th February 2019

Following a furore over political correctness, the phrase ‘social licence to operate’ has been dumped from updated guidance by the ASX Corporate Governance Council. All references to the term have been replaced with ‘reputation’ and ‘standing in the community’ in the fourth edition of the council’s principles and recommendations on best practice for corporate governance. The council said it was concerned the phrase, which was included in an earlier consultation draft, would create problems for companies in the gaming, alcohol, tobacco, fast food and mining sectors. Australian Council of Superannuation Investors chief executive Louise Davidson said the updated guidance reflected the key concepts involved in having a social licence to operate but the phrase itself became a distraction. "It's a little bit of a puzzle to me to be honest as to why it was such a controversial and inflammatory issue," she said. "From an investor perspective we think it actually makes sense. But it became too much of a galvanising issue and started to take away from the key things that we were actually trying to achieve." The Business Council of Australia welcomed the final version, labelling it “measured” and “workable into the future”.

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