Entrepreneurs were largely missing from the annual Australia Day gongs handed out this weekend.
The Australia Day honours list always attract controversy for being largely male dominated (only 31% of the honours went to women this year) and for the under representation of minority groups and indigenous people.
There is generally an outcry over the focus on celebrities, like this year’s Australian of the Year, footballer Adam Goodes, and actor Geoffrey Rush, at the expense of people who volunteer and who work on a grass roots level in our communities.
But there should be more complaints about the dearth of entrepreneurs on this year’s list of 638 great Australians.
It was good to see John Grill, chairman and former chief executive of engineering company WorleyParsons, honoured as an officer of the Order of Australia for ”distinguished service to engineering, and to business, to the minerals, energy and power supply industries, and as a supporter of advanced education and training”.
Andrew Liveris, chief executive and chairman of Dow Chemical, was also made an officer of the Order of Australia along with Phil Ruthven, the founder and chairman of business information and forecasting company IBISWorld and Thank You Water founder Dan Flynn was also honoured.
But where were the rest of the entrepreneurs and the small business people who are the back bone of Australia?
Entrepreneurs take risks and put their own livelihood on the line to build businesses which employ Australians and drive our economy.
Part of the problem could be simply a failure to put themselves forward, in a country of more than 22 million people only 951 nominations were received for the eventual 638 awards.
It’s not the Australian (or entrepreneurial) way to blow your own trumpet, but we should use this year’s list as an inspiration to think of those entrepreneurs and business people who should be honoured for their contribution.