Companies should be free to speak out about social issues, but the business lobby also wants them to speak out about the economy.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott says firms can do both.
"Many companies feel strongly about (social) issues, and their employees expect them to stand up for them, that's perfectly legitimate," she told ABC radio on Monday.
"But at the same time we need companies speaking out on economic issues and we need them to be signalling the virtue of being successful, of creating jobs, of paying people wages, of expanding.
"Both of those things are not in conflict."
The Business Council is in Canberra to speak to MPs about making business conditions easier in the face of sluggish retail spending.
"I think companies have got an obligation to talk about the economy, because they employ so many people," Ms Westacott said.
"Particularly large companies, large employers, they are the people doing the hard yards on the international scene, they can see the headwinds coming in the direction of our country.
"They can see how to make our economy more competitive, how to make it more productive, how to pay people more."
Ms Westacott says businesses want Australian politicians to cut red tape and incentivise investment.
"What we do over the next 18 months will set the company up for the next 18 years," she said.
"If we make some wrong choices then we will be potentially condemning our country to a very long period of low growth.
"That's not good for people's wages, it's not good for the revenues governments need to get the services people want."
Australian Associated Press