Going all green or gay is no way to run a bank

There I was watching our Leyton lose a Davis Cup rubber to the US and on the television came an ANZ bank advertisement, “Let’s create a more equal world”.

It featured little girls hoping to grow into leaders.

It was straight out of a sex discrimination commissioner’s handbook: discrimination rather than historical and biological forces cause the (little and diminishing) difference in the status of women.

Alas, the ANZ campaign has come too late for the next president of the US, Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps ANZ can run an advertising campaign to prevent men dying earlier than women. Then I might invest in ANZ.

Why do banks do this?

NAB supports the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, for example, but as Bjorn Lomborg has pointed out, the agenda is so jampacked with goodness that too much that is inconsequential will be achieved.

ANZ is celebrating a 10-year partnership with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Its website is festooned with the new logo, GAYNZ.

No doubt ANZ will support the yes vote in the plebiscite on gay marriage. Were I to vote no, should I disinvest in ANZ?

And did you know that you can be an “ecowarrior” with ANZ? Or become an “environmentally conscious consumer … worried about global warming and the impact humans are having on the planet”.

Should I disinvest in ANZ if I believe that ecowarriors are poor deluded sods and that the typical response to “global warming”, abatement, is similarly deluded? And by the way, it is called climate change now.

My advice to ANZ is that if you want to hire gay green women, then just do it. The ANZ sustainability review boasts that it has committed $10 billion over the next five years to “support our customers transition to a low-carbon economy”. Westpac makes a similar boast.

Presumably, this means ANZ has found it profitable to lend money to people who have had massive tax assistance to build wind turbines and solar panels. We look forward to ANZ’s support for investments in the forthcoming nuclear waste dump industry in South Australia, or for Adani coal in the Galilee Basin.

A lot of very poor Indians (and South Australians) would like someone to turn on the lights.

Let’s not forget that ANZ bank chairman David Gonski recommended that taxpayers hand over an extra $5bn every year of their hard-earned money to spend on schools that are less likely to educate their children than was the case when they were less well funded.

I wonder if Gonski is aware that at least 10 per cent of university educated trainee teachers failed a recent commonwealth reading and writing test.

Which way will ANZ jump on animal rights, euthanasia, decriminalising party drugs, immunisation and the threat of Islam?

It is just possible that if ANZ, as the very model of a postmodern corporation, were to drift further into politics it might come to the attention of the Australian Securities & Investments Commission for dereliction of its duty to shareholders.

Whoops, I forgot. ASIC ­recently launched legal action against ANZ over alleged manipulation of the bank bill swap rate.

Most banks in Australia have entered the postmodern world of politics, entangling themselves in matters that, if not detrimental to their ability to create wealth, embroil their leaders in contestable public policy.

Yet it is possible to do good and not overreach. Commonwealth Bank executives worked for a community service provider to determine the impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme on the organisation. A good use of skills, no attitude required.

Nothing I have written here suggests that good and brilliant men and women do not lead the ANZ, or indeed any other corporation. But good and brilliant men and women can lose their way.

They seek a social licence to operate.

They use the corporation for a larger purpose, and in doing so damage the corporation and drive corporate regulation into the hands of small numbers of activists and out of the hands of the electorate and its representatives.

The Corporations Act 2001 runs into more than 3000 pages and there are more than 1600 pages of corporate regulations set down by the federal parliament. Believe me, corporations do not need another licence.

Corporations have allowed themselves to become a site for postmodern politics.

If a particular group does not like a product, it will seek to regulate it: cars, oil, coal, fast food, gambling, alcohol and tobacco are vulnerable to endless campaigns of delegitimisation.

Where the legitimacy of the product is widely acceptable, as with banking services, corporations worried by delegitimisation campaigns nevertheless try to win plaudits.

By playing hero they end up being delegitimised.

I will just bank with someone who gives me a good return on my investment and lets me watch tennis in peace.

If I want a moral lecture there are plenty of other places I can go.