Category Archives: Research

Women spend 50% less time in full-time employment because of family events

Women spend half as much time in full-time employment than men as a result of family events, finds new research by the University of Cologne.

The study, conducted by WiSo doctoral student Wiebke Schmitz, and Professors Laura Naegele, Frerich Frerichs and Lea Ellwardt, investigated the employment patterns of both men and women and how their family events affected this.

They found that family events had a greater impact on the employment status of women more so than men late into their working lives.

The study revealed that on average, women between the ages of 50 to 65 spent four years in full-time employment, whereas men spent eight years.

It also revealed that women spent an average of three years in domestic employment, and one year in part-time employment.

Early family events such as children and civil partnerships were associated with unpaid housework or part-time work for women, and negatively affected the likelihood of full-time employment later in life.

“The course of late working life differs drastically depending on gender. Men’s later working lives are mainly characterised by continuous full-time work and the same family events had no effect on their full-time employment,” says Professor Lea Ellwardt.

The results of this study are prominent in areas that are conservative, and believe in traditional gender roles, or areas that are characterised by a lack of public social infrastructure.

“Greater integration of women into the labour market is necessary to mitigate the shortage of skilled workers in the wake of demographic change. Policymakers need to introduce life-course and gender-orientated strategies to mitigate women’s disadvantage in late-life,” says Professor Lea Ellwardt.

The researchers add that implementation of new policy measures should aim to prevent social inequalities in the earlier stages of life, as employment decisions influenced by earlier family events and associated career decisions accumulate over the course of life, especially for mothers.

The study was published in the European Journal of Ageing and was awarded the Best Paper Award of Section III for Social and Behavioural Gerontology of the “Deutschen Gesellschaft für Gerontologie und Geriatrie” (DGGG).

Economic confidence among finance professionals hits highest level since first half of 2023 

  • Although accountants have become more positive about the economy for the first time since Q1 2023, concerns about costs persist   
  • Global concerns about operating costs rose, as did uncertainty around geopolitical tensions and talent acquisition challenges
  • UK SMEs have experienced a similar buoying of confidence, but still face a tough economic landscape to navigate

 

Accountants and finance professionals are more confident in the global economy than they have been since early 2023.

 

The latest ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) saw a moderate increase in confidence to put the index just above its historical average. Add in small increases to the New Orders and Employment indices – both of which are slightly above their averages – and a positive picture emerges of a gradually improving economic outlook. That said, there was a small decline in the Capital Expenditure Index, which remains below average.

 

Encouragingly, there were gains in confidence in most regions. The rise in Asia Pacific was the third largest on record and may reflect growing confidence in the resilience of the US economy, signs of improvement in the Chinese data and wider global economy, and perhaps rising optimism that Japan may finally be exiting from its decades long battle against deflation. The moderate rise in confidence in Western Europe also suggests that growth may be gradually improving from the weakness of recent quarters.

 

On a less positive note, global concerns about increased operating costs rose, although they remain below their Q3 2022 peak. Interestingly, concerns about costs eased again in the advanced economies of North America and Western Europe while remaining elevated by historical standards. By contrast, cost concerns rose noticeably in Africa, Asia Pacific, and South Asia.

 

Additionally, Q1 2024 responses from the Global Risks Survey section of the GECS report demonstrate how the ripple effects of economic uncertainty have been exacerbated by rising geopolitical and talent scarcity challenges. Respondents across all sectors and regions said that they are feeling the impact of talent retention risks, with numerous respondents describing the skills shortage as an epidemic. Cybersecurity is also viewed as a significant threat, especially with advancements in generative AI making ransomware and other cybercrimes increasingly easier and quicker to carry out.

 

Jonathan Ashworth, chief economist, ACCA, said: “The survey points to some improvement in global growth. Nevertheless, while encouraging, it is no time to celebrate just yet, with the global economy facing many risks and challenges and still set for below average growth in 2024. Moreover, the elevated level of concerns about costs suggests that the major central banks should proceed very cautiously with any monetary easing.”

 

Specifically discussing the economic backdrop for UK SMEs, Glenn Collins, head of technical and strategic engagement, ACCA UK, added: “Confidence among UK SMEs increased quite materially in Q1 2024 and is only moderately below its historical average. The New Orders Index declined but is close to its average. The Capital Expenditure Index increased sharply for the second consecutive quarter and is now just above average, but the Employment Index declined again and looks weak by historical standards.

 

“Overall, the broad trend of the key activity indicators (save employment) over recent quarters points to some improvement in the economic backdrop for UK SMEs. Nevertheless, some of the early indicators of corporate stress increased in Q1. Worryingly, problems securing prompt payment, problems accessing finance, and concerns about customers going out of business all rose and are above their historical averages. This does highlight that businesses need to review their finance plans.”

 

Susie Duong, senior director of research and thought leadership at IMA, said of the report: “The continued improvement in confidence in North America, and the rise in the other indicators, likely reflects growing optimism that the US economy is on course for a ‘soft landing’ or perhaps no landing at all in 2024. That would clearly be welcome news for businesses, although it means we are likely to see less monetary easing by the Federal Reserve this year than investors expected a few months ago.”

 

Read the full report here.

 

Visit ACCA’s website for more information.

Genesis Biosciences joins consortium to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Genesis Biosciences has joined the COMBAT AMR consortium which aims to understand and control the emergence and dissemination of antimicrobial resistance in complex drain biofilms.

Under the leadership of Professor Jean-Yves Maillard of Cardiff University, Genesis Biosciences will collaborate with the university and other European educational institutions on the research project.

Antimicrobial resistance is a significant global challenge and is listed on the UK government’s National Risk Register as a chronic risk that poses continuous challenges. The government’s vision is for antimicrobial resistance to be contained and controlled by 2040 and it is publishing five-year national action plans to achieve this.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when organisms that cause disease evolve and are no longer affected by antimicrobials including antibiotics, antifungal and antiviral medicines. It is a natural phenomenon but is rapidly accelerating due to factors including misuse or overuse of antimicrobials in humans and animals, environmental contamination and poor infection control practices.

Biofilms, communities of microorganisms living on surfaces, are the most common mode of bacterial growth and harbour pathogens, particularly antimicrobial and multidrug resistant pathogens. Due to their ubiquitous nature, biofilms are recognised as a major cause of antimicrobial resistance.

The COMBAT AMR consortium is studying drain biofilms from farms, healthcare settings and homes to understand the complexity of biofilms in different environments and the persistence of antimicrobial genes and multidrug resistant organisms within those biofilms.

The consortium is using a new multi-species biofilm model based on research by Dr Kate Ledwoch, Laboratory Manager at Genesis Biosciences, and fellow scientists which was published in the Journal of Hospital Infection in 2020.

The innovative model will be used during the project to measure the efficacy of several interventions to control the biofilms, explore the phenotypic characterisations of the key pathogens and establish an impact intervention to control antimicrobial resistant organisms on their resistance genes within the biofilms.

Dr Emma Saunders, General Manager at Genesis Biosciences, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a threat to both human and animal health, impacting the ability to treat infections and ensure food security. As biofilms act as a reservoir for harmful, resistant pathogens, it is important to improve our understanding of antimicrobial genes and the impact of disinfection on complex biofilms.

“We are looking forward to working with Cardiff University and the other members of the consortium to help tackle this global challenge.”

Risk cultures can make or break banks, reveals new report ACCA

  • 2023 banking collapses exposed weaknesses in risk governance that ultimately led to failures
  • Accountancy professionals should work collaboratively to raise risk awareness, promote new insights, and influence organisational culture and behaviours
  • ACCA UK members share their insights and experiences of risk culture in the workplace

 

A new special report by ACCA, the leading global professional accountancy body, examines the impact of risk cultures in the banking industry and how financial institutions can learn from what went wrong in the lead up to the banking collapses of 2023.

The report, Risk cultures in banking: Where next? sheds new light on the pressing need for the banking sector to adapt and innovate risk governance and culture. A key finding of the report was that finance and accountancy professionals should lead an image change around risk culture, framing it as something that allows many good opportunities to happen, rather than only mitigating bad things.

The report further suggests that factors of human behaviour currently do not have enough bearing when it comes to risk cultures in banking. Understanding the role of human behaviours when it comes to risk culture is complex, but with effective leadership, policy and management, many of the operational issues that have the potential to become much bigger problems can be mitigated earlier.

Head of risk management and corporate governance at ACCA, and author of the report, Rachael Johnson, commented: “The 2023 banking collapses underlined the importance of transparency in preventing operational losses and reputational risk at banks. A strong risk culture supports this, ensuring trust in information for resilience and prudent risk taking.

“Accountancy professionals can act as risk super-networkers, aiding teams in informed decisions and sharing knowledge. By sharing stories, they can raise risk awareness, promote new insights, and influence organisational performance, which is what effective risk cultures are all about.”

The report speaks to multiple ACCA members about their experiences of working within banking industries and attitudes towards compliance and the understanding of risk. Through discussion, the evidence highlighted that a lack of dialogue between banks and regulators underpinned many of the issues around building effective risk culture.

Rather than there being unwillingness to change how risk culture is approached and managed, the issue instead appears to be how to make a risk culture successful. The key issue from the UK members spoken to in the report appears to be one of disconnect between senior decision makers and those looking at the operational data, as well as being on the ground amongst staff and understanding their behaviours and attitudes.

An ACCA member who is an investment manager in the UK compared the accumulating operational risk losses at banks ‘like trying to extinguish forest fires’. He commented: “The fines and reputational damage in banking have been enormous in recent years. It is as if we know something needs to change about how we quantify these risks but, as an industry, we are not doing enough about it.”

Another ACCA UK member added: “We see time and time again that boards and senior management are more concerned with quarterly earnings and do not pay enough attention to strategic risks and how fast they materialise into something very costly.”

 

The role of behavioural factors in risk culture is a key takeaway from the report. It discusses the dynamics of risk being more about human behaviour than mathematical models or process design flaws, and it includes 10 action points for banks, highlighting how stronger partnerships between risk, support units, and accounting functions can make a profound difference.

Visit ACCA’s website for more information.

 

Explorance MLY partners with University of Westminster to support enhanced qualitative analysis of student experience insights

The University of Westminster is partnering with Explorance MLY to support its institutional need for enhanced qualitative analysis of student experience insights emerging in surveys.

MLY, formerly known as BlueML, is a revolutionary advancement in the field of feedback analytics that identifies recommendations from comments. For students, it helps to enhance teaching methods and curriculum through the evaluation of student learning experiences, supporting student satisfaction and engagement. It also supports employee journeys, capturing experience and learning insights.

The University, which has more than 21,000 students drawn from 160 different nationalities on its undergraduate, postgraduate and professional courses, is currently rolling out MLY within its student and colleague surveys after purchasing the system at the end of 2022-23.

“We decided to purchase MLY as a result of wanting to build on our qualitative analysis capabilities,” explained Kirsty Bryant, Senior Institutional Research Analyst – Strategy, Planning, and Performance at the University of Westminster. “Prior to MLY, we would manually thematically analyse the open comments from just one of our surveys, despite running several large-scale surveys throughout the academic year. Whilst we knew our dataset well, we were also aware of how resource-intensive such analysis was, so were looking for ways to streamline this process to increase the amount of qualitative analysis that we could undertake.”

MLY offered the University “quick processing deductive thematic analysis”, Kirsty said, as well as a platform for enabling wider innovation in her team.

“The AI through Explorance MLY gives us greater capacity so we can run all our major surveys through this system and will enable us to be more responsive, especially in consideration of module evaluation surveys, where we can identify in-year issues and react quickly,” she continued. “We also expect there to be a culture shift in how my team spends their time. We can focus on how and what we communicate to stakeholders and ensure there is accountability in making positive change. We will be able to share high-level analysis of the open comments almost as quickly as we currently deliver the quantitative counterparts of our surveys. We expect this to be a real culture change as our qualitative data can be elevated to the same status as our extensive quantitative datasets.​”

Kirsty added: “Bringing in all the qualitative data from all our major surveys means we will have the capacity to map different levels of study or different time periods to identify patterns and trends. We can segment the data to better understand different student user journeys and develop measures to ensure success for all our students. The Explorance team have really listened to our suggestions and have taken many of them on board to further improve MLY.”

John Atherton, VP Sales EMEA at Explorance, said: “We are really pleased to be working with the University of Westminster, which is not currently a user of our Explorance Blue course evaluation platform but has purchased MLY to support its existing system. MLY empowers organisations to listen inside and out by gathering insights not only from internal survey comments, but also from external channels, such as reviews or social posts. This way, MLY provides the capability to distil actionable feedback directly from the authentic voice of people, without the filters and constraints of survey questionnaires.”

In the UK, Explorance supports over 25 universities: Aberdeen, Anglia Ruskin, Bath Spa, Birkbeck – University of London, Brighton, Bristol, Buckingham, Cardiff, Cardiff Metropolitan, Coventry, Durham, Glasgow Caledonian, Keele, Kingston, Leeds, Liverpool John Moores, Loughborough, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham Trent, Northumbria, Sheffield, Strathclyde, Westminster, Worcester and University of Law.

Unlocking your business potential with the power of Operational Research

Written By Seb Hargreaves, executive director of The OR Society

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, one hidden gem is Operational Research (OR) – an innovative solution that is driving competitiveness and relevance for businesses.

Often termed ‘the art and science of decision making,’ OR combines advanced mathematics, data analytics, and human insights to tackle intricate business challenges.

Originating from World War II, OR’s roots trace back to scientists and engineers innovating strategies that optimised military operations. Analysing data, mapping processes, simulating scenarios, and planning optimal routes became pivotal in minimising military losses and ensuring mission success.

Today, executives across a diverse range of organisations – large, small, public, private, or non-profit – are using OR to extract value from data, model intricate systems, and make better decisions with reduced risks.

OR’s Impact on Business Transformation

Imagine an OR specialist collaborating with a logistics company, optimising delivery routes considering variables like traffic, fuel costs, and delivery deadlines or  a retailer using OR to analyse sales data, precisely predicting stock needs while balancing customer demand and inventory expenses.

Consider Pilkington UK, a glass manufacturer, which employed OR to streamline manufacturing and reduce glass waste. By harnessing OR techniques to review order data, the company redefined its manufacturing processes to align with specific customer orders, minimising waste, cutting costs, and enhancing their customers’ satisfaction.

Another example is Tesco, the UK’s largest grocer, that has used OR solutions to meet the daily challenge of managing the expiring stock of both food and non-food items.  A key step in Tesco’s value chain is what happens at the end of a product’s lifecycle. This is the last opportunity to sell an item to a customer or donate it to the community to ensure it doesn’t go to waste.

Tesco, like most retailers, discounts items that are close to being removed from the shelves.  This process is applied across Tesco’s product range, from general merchandise and clothing to fresh food. In particular, food items are reduced in price as they get closer to expiry to sell them before they go to waste.

Finding an optimal reduction strategy is a major challenge for every retail business. The question that must be answered is: By how much should the price be reduced?

There are two conflicting objectives:  to not only increase revenue but also reduce waste. Finding a solution that achieves both is a non-trivial task, but it’s what Tesco’s Data Science Team managed to do using OR.

They developed a novel multi-stage Clearance Pricing Optimisation system and deployed it across all Tesco stores in the UK where it is applied to 100,000’s of unique products annually.

The key objectives are to: 1) clear excess stock by a specific date; 2) increase revenue by finding the optimal discounts, and 3) reduce operational costs and provide further insights of in-store processes.

The solution achieved these objectives and has been a great success. Tesco has reduced the number of fresh food items going to waste by 5% and its impact on the planet, whilst at the same time increased the revenue generated by 1.5-13% across multiple food and non-food product lines.

Tesco were also delighted to be awarded the OR Society’s President’s Medal in 2022 for this work.

Like these examples, almost any organisation can use OR to solve complex problems, make cost savings, and improve decision-making. For businesses yet to explore this powerful tool, discovering its potential could be a real game changer.

By Seb Hargreaves, executive director of The OR Society

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, one hidden gem is Operational Research (OR) – an innovative solution that is driving competitiveness and relevance for businesses.

Often termed ‘the art and science of decision making,’ OR combines advanced mathematics, data analytics, and human insights to tackle intricate business challenges.

Originating from World War II, OR’s roots trace back to scientists and engineers innovating strategies that optimised military operations. Analysing data, mapping processes, simulating scenarios, and planning optimal routes became pivotal in minimising military losses and ensuring mission success.

Today, executives across a diverse range of organisations – large, small, public, private, or non-profit – are using OR to extract value from data, model intricate systems, and make better decisions with reduced risks.

OR’s Impact on Business Transformation

Imagine an OR specialist collaborating with a logistics company, optimising delivery routes considering variables like traffic, fuel costs, and delivery deadlines or  a retailer using OR to analyse sales data, precisely predicting stock needs while balancing customer demand and inventory expenses.

Consider Pilkington UK, a glass manufacturer, which employed OR to streamline manufacturing and reduce glass waste. By harnessing OR techniques to review order data, the company redefined its manufacturing processes to align with specific customer orders, minimising waste, cutting costs, and enhancing their customers’ satisfaction.

Another example is Tesco, the UK’s largest grocer, that has used OR solutions to meet the daily challenge of managing the expiring stock of both food and non-food items.  A key step in Tesco’s value chain is what happens at the end of a product’s lifecycle. This is the last opportunity to sell an item to a customer or donate it to the community to ensure it doesn’t go to waste.

Tesco, like most retailers, discounts items that are close to being removed from the shelves.  This process is applied across Tesco’s product range, from general merchandise and clothing to fresh food. In particular, food items are reduced in price as they get closer to expiry to sell them before they go to waste.

Finding an optimal reduction strategy is a major challenge for every retail business. The question that must be answered is: By how much should the price be reduced?

There are two conflicting objectives:  to not only increase revenue but also reduce waste. Finding a solution that achieves both is a non-trivial task, but it’s what Tesco’s Data Science Team managed to do using OR.

They developed a novel multi-stage Clearance Pricing Optimisation system and deployed it across all Tesco stores in the UK where it is applied to 100,000’s of unique products annually.

The key objectives are to: 1) clear excess stock by a specific date; 2) increase revenue by finding the optimal discounts, and 3) reduce operational costs and provide further insights of in-store processes.

The solution achieved these objectives and has been a great success. Tesco has reduced the number of fresh food items going to waste by 5% and its impact on the planet, whilst at the same time increased the revenue generated by 1.5-13% across multiple food and non-food product lines.

Tesco were also delighted to be awarded the OR Society’s President’s Medal in 2022 for this work.

Like these examples, almost any organisation can use OR to solve complex problems, make cost savings, and improve decision-making. For businesses yet to explore this powerful tool, discovering its potential could be a real game changer.

 

There Is an Overlooked Downside to Crowdsourcing, say researchers

Crowdsourcing might have a negative effect on consumers who participate and lose, according to new research by the Vienna University of Economics and Business. This research was published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing.

Crowdsourcing is a promising approach for identifying new product ideas. Many consumer goods firms, such as Starbucks and Lay’s, have identified successful innovations by tapping into the creative potential of their user-community “crowd”.

Crowdsourcing contests commonly have one winner (or a handful of winners) — the overwhelming majority of participants lose.

The study, conducted by Professor Martin Schreier, reveals that crowdsourcing participants whose ideas are not selected temporarily disengage from the brand

“There is a sharp and immediate drop in brand engagement following the feedback that one’s idea was not among the winners. The bitterness of losing manifests also in other key marketing measures such as future purchases and word-of-mouth intentions,” says Professor Schreier.

However, the study also reveals a way to save relationships and rip the benefits of crowdsourcing at the same time. Reframing the contest as a community activity (for example, “Join the crowd and help us find a name for our new restaurant”) rather than a competition (e.g., “Compete with the crowd to be the one who names our new restaurant”) helps address the problem.

Firms can give credit where credit is due and acknowledge every customer’s contribution. This approach is inexpensive and can be adopted from the very beginning by framing the focal crowdsourcing call. As such, doing this led to higher actual spending with the hosting brand shortly after learning about the campaign’s outcome,” says Professor Schreier.

Community framing shifts attention away from losing the contest to collectively creating a superior outcome, without changing the nature of the contest itself (participants continue to work and submit their ideas as individuals).

Get your act together brands say Midlife Women who feel ‘invisible’ and misrepresented

The majority of consumers that Forbes calls ‘super consumers’ feel invisible to brands, says a new report that has been released on the back of exclusive research.

The insight-packed report by The Behaviours Agency also shows that only 7% of Midlife Women aged 45-60 think they’re very well represented in advertising and 62% think that advertising targeted at them rarely shows someone they can relate to.

 

Citing findings from the research, Sue Benson, Managing Director of The Behaviours Agency highlights:

“Our research has shown just some of the ways that brands and retailers can improve their communication with this cohort of women that Forbes dubs ‘super consumers’, due to their spending capability and the huge changes that are going on in their lives – resulting in them seeking out new products that are relevant for them.

“A key finding was that midlife brings about an awakening for women, due to ubiquitous ‘change’ where personal needs take precedence, alongside a greater understanding of the value of the present and the importance of fulfilment. And this is a huge opportunity for brands to get it right.

“For example, 35% said they’d changed skincare, cosmetics and haircare products because their skin/hair has changed; 42% have changed their diet and buy more nutritional foods and 35% were exercising more.

“Yet these women don’t feel represented in brand advertising, or even trust the claims being made.

“Overall, women expressed a strong desire for more diverse and realistic representation that mirrors their own lives and challenges.

 

“Giving their view on advertising, only 7% said they felt very well represented in advertising. 24% said “well” but a third (32%) believe “not well”, with 7% not at all and 25% not very well (37% weren’t sure).

“One of the main concerns expressed by midlife women is the lack of relatable role models and representation in advertisements. They argue that the absence of women in their age group in advertising reinforces harmful stereotypes and unrealistic beauty standards. This perceived invisibility only serves to compound the pressure many midlife women feel to conform to societal ideals.

“Many women feel that brands predominantly focus on younger generations, perpetuating stereotypes that don’t reflect their interests, values, or aspirations. As a result, they feel marginalized and underappreciated by the marketing industry.

“72% are sceptical about the claims made in advertisements. 75% thinks ads focus too much on appearance rather than overall wellbeing and 72% feel ads often set unrealistic standards of beauty.

62% feel advertising targeted at them rarely shows someone they can relate to.”

 

Summing up feelings of this audience, Louise Baker, a 50-year-old professional from Manchester, commented on the issue, stating, “We’re not invisible; we’re just ignored. It’s frustrating when the marketing world seems to think that the only things midlife women are interested in are anti-aging creams and laundry detergent. We have diverse interests, and we want to see ourselves reflected in the advertisements we encounter daily.”

 

They also feel that increased dialogue around menopause is confusing and fast becoming ‘noise’

“Naturally the menopause was a significant factor in these women’s lives – but they were quick to point that they don’t want it to define them, something which many brands are guilty of. To be successful at reaching and resonating with this key demographic we need to look beyond ‘the menopause. Menopause is just ONE of the reasons this cohort feels invisible.

“41% said there’s not enough help and information around menopause, 34% said the amount of help is about right and 17% said it’s hard to work out what information is helpful or useful. 8% simply feel overwhelmed now about the information that’s out there – so much so it’s become noise.

“The women we spoke to told us that they wanted menopause-related products and communications to be addressed more subtly, focusing on solutions rather than labelling everything as “for menopause.” It can come across as pigeonholing, alienating, or feeling like a brand is jumping on the bandwagon.”

 

The research also found that while they’re increasingly being stereotyped as ‘struggling’ with menopausal issues, in fact, change beyond menopause is the dominating and uniting narrative in midlife women’s lives.

 

“While the Midlife Women cohort is extremely diverse, change is a universal theme that comes out throughout our study – from change in personal circumstances (divorce, career changes, children leaving home, and caring for elderly relatives etc) and physical and hormonal changes (due to the menopause), to attitudinal changes to life in general.

“Alongside these changes comes a natural shift in shopping behaviours as consumers seek out new products, solutions and habits to suit a new outlook or physical appearance.

“We discovered that 42 per cent of midlife women have changed their diets or are buying more nutritional food; more than a third (36 per cent) have changed their skin and haircare products; 35 per cent are now exercising more and a further 35 per cent have bought new clothing to suit their changing body shape.

“There is massive potential for brands to tap into this spending power and aptitude to find new solutions – if targeted correctly.”

 

They’re NOT taking a woe-is-me attitude to menopausal change and aliments.  

Both the quantitative and qualitative elements of The Behaviour Agency’s study pointed to some surprising findings regarding self-care and happiness among midlife women. The very varied ways people cope with change was most clearly demonstrated when looking at how active women are at managing their own health.

There is a distinct YOLO spirit among many. Almost half (43%) feel the necessary changes associated with midlife have improved their lives.

 

“I’m just not sure ‘society’ and decision makers in companies who are trying to appeal to midlife women are really keeping up with what women’s attitudes to midlife really are”, says Sue.

“Of course the increase in information about menopause is positive, no one can fault the efforts being made to recognise how symptoms can affect women experiencing its various stages, but a key out-take from our research was that there are huge differences in how people respond to the hand they have been dealt and the changes they see.

“When we started this project we really thought that menopause would be ‘the’ big topic on every woman’s lips. But it really wasn’t, the spectrum of change is so vast that it just becomes one of the narratives not the only narrative.”

 

To download the report https://thebehavioursagency.com/midlife-women/

Alibaba Research: Seven in Ten Consumers Are Willing to Make Changes to Tackle Environmental Issues

  • Independent research shows lack of information and high prices are the main barriers for consumers to make more sustainable purchases
  • Businesses can play a significant role in making it easier for consumers to make consciously   sustainable choices and earn more trust from consumers
  • Alibaba Group’s latest ESG report reveals that over 180 million consumers participated in carbon emission reduction through its carbon ledger platform

A majority (73%) of consumers want to live more sustainable lifestyles, particularly among those living in emerging Asian markets (87%), but inconvenience and high costs are cited as main stumbling blocks to the adoption of sustainable lifestyles, finds the latest independent research commissioned by Alibaba Group.

The research, titled “The Sustainability Trends Report 2023”, polled more than 14,000 consumers from 14 markets across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It finds that convenience (53%) and affordability (33%) are critical for driving behavioral changes in consumer sustainability and businesses can make it easier for consumers to make sustainably conscious choices.

But consumers are cynical (38%) towards the underlying motivation of businesses’ “sustainable” products, with only 15% saying that they completely trust claims around sustainability of products. Businesses need to work harder to build trust among those consumers, especially among people living in European markets.

“As a digital platform company, Alibaba is uniquely positioned and committed to addressing the ‘say-do’ gap challenge; by reducing the inconvenience obstacle, adding more sustainable choices, and optimising supply chains to keep costs reasonable for consumers. Sustainable consumption is crucial for the environment, and in the meantime it provides a great opportunity for businesses, as well as the digital economy as a whole, to have a long-lasting development into a sustainable future for all,” said Liu Wei, Alibaba Group ESG Strategy Lead.

Alibaba published its latest Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report in late July where for the first time it disclosed its Scope 3+ decarbonisation progress since it pioneered the concept in 2021 for a wider pledge of carbon emission reduction across its ecosystem.

Alibaba’s carbon ledger platform has seen a total number of 187 million consumers participating in carbon emission reduction activities in the 12 months leading to March 31, 2023 with 1.91 million products from 409 brands offered on Tmall and Taobao through its low-carbon friendly products program as of March 2023, its latest ESG report revealed.

Consumers from the emerging Asian markets are the most willing to learn how to make more sustainable purchase online

Consumers globally are embracing more sustainable lifestyles, but there are variations across regions in the level of engagement and how they want to live and shop more sustainably.

The research finds around three in four consumers (76%) would welcome more information about how to be more sustainable. The proportion is highest in the Philippines (93%), Indonesia (91%), and UAE (90%).

Over half (58%) of consumers say they’ve already engaged with sustainable practices and they feel they are already personally doing a great deal. There’s also a general openness towards learning about sustainable online practices, with an average of 73% saying that they would welcome more information about how to make purchases online that are more sustainable.

Respondents from emerging Asian markets (88%) show higher willingness to learn how they can make purchases online that are more sustainable compared with developed Asian markets (66%) and Europe (66%). The sustainable online shopping behaviors also differ across regions, with emerging Asian markets (47%) more inclined to choosing sustainable packaging whereas those in Europe (47%) tend to recycle more.

Half of the consumers would only go sustainable if it’s convenient; with a third believing sustainability is not affordable

Lack of information about how products are sustainable (48%) and the prices of sustainable products being too high (45%) are cited as the main barriers for consumers to make more sustainable purchases.

Over half of the consumers (53%) surveyed say they would only make sustainable choices if they were convenient, which is especially the case in Asian markets (61%) compared to European markets (36%). A third (33%) say living sustainably is not affordable, with Thailand (84%) leading the pack, followed by UAE (41%) and Spain (37%).

Amid the shifting consumer sentiment, businesses can play a significant role in making it easier for consumers to make sustainable conscious choices, the report finds. Making sustainable products more affordable (61%), making fewer products using single-use plastics and packaging (55%) and a wider selection of sustainable products and services (47%) are the top three ways consumers say businesses can do to promote consumer sustainability.

But businesses need to work harder to build trust among consumers on their sustainability claims, especially among those living in European markets, said the research. 23% of consumers say they “do not trust very much” the claims around sustainability of products from businesses, with the highest proportion in France (31%), Spain (31%) Germany (30%) and the U.K. (30%).

Nearly two in five consumers (38%) are cynical towards the underlying motivations of businesses’ sustainable products, with Thailand (56%), France (48%) and Singapore (47%) as the top three markets where consumers say sustainable products are just a way for companies to sell their products at a higher price.

“We believe companies can better earn trust from consumers by addressing their own ‘say-do’ gap, such as being more transparent and committed with their sustainability claims, and backing their sustainable practices with data. This will also lead to greater empathy towards consumers along our common journey of sustainability,” Liu Wei added.

About the survey: 

“The Sustainability Trends Report 2023” was conducted by Yonder Consulting, a UK-based consulting firm, with advisory and analysis support by Hong Kong-based sustainability consultancy, The Purpose Business, between January 26 to February 14, 2023, based on feedback from 14,125 consumers to an online survey.

Respondents of the survey are located in fourteen markets across Asia, Europe and the Middle East including: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, U.K., Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Singapore and the UAE.

Asian developed markets referred to in this research include Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, while Asian emerging markets refer to Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

About Alibaba Group:

Alibaba Group’s mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere. The company aims to build the future infrastructure of commerce. It envisions that its customers will meet, work and live at Alibaba, and that it will be a good company that lasts for 102 years.

 

Employees in HR, consulting, and tech report highest satisfaction with senior management

  • New research reveals industries with the highest and lowest leadership approval ratings in the UK, according to employee reviews on Glassdoor
  • Leaders in Human Resources have the highest proportion of staff enthusiastic about their leadership, with both HR & Staffing and HR Consulting in the top 2 for ratings above 4.5 stars (out of 5 stars)
  • Sporting goods store employees are the least satisfied with their management teams with the highest proportion of workers scoring their senior management team 0-1 stars (8.11%)
  • The North East & Cumbria were revealed as the best UK region with 11.90% of companies receiving at least 4.5 stars in their Glassdoor senior management reviews

New research by Leadership Dynamics, a proprietary leadership analytics and evaluation platform powering The LCap Group, has shed light on which industries and areas in the UK have the highest and lowest leadership approval ratings according to their employee reviews on Glassdoor.

Research shows employees in Human Resources & Staffing are most likely to be extremely satisfied with their leadership teams, with 35.06% of all companies in this sector holding a 4.5 stars employee rating or higher for senior management, taking the top spot in the industry ranking.

HR Consulting comes second, with 22.7% of company leaders proving popular amongst staff. These results suggest that HR leaders possess a unique understanding of how to effectively lead and motivate their teams.

The top 10 industries in the UK with the highest proportion of 4.5-star ratings for senior management are:

  1. Human Resources & Staffing (35.06%)
  2. HR Consulting (22.70%)
  3. Internet & Web Services (17.79%)
  4. Enterprise Software & Network Solutions (17.01%)
  5. Information Technology (15.56%)
  6. Business Consulting (15.32%)
  7. Management & Consulting (15.27%)
  8. Advertising & Public Relations (14.88%)
  9. Information Technology Support Services (13.87%)
  10. Financial Transaction Processing (12.34%)

Reviewing the opposite end of the ranking, Sporting Goods Stores and Department, Clothing & Shoe Stores are at the bottom when it comes to favourable ratings – ratings above 4.5 stars being at 0.98% and 1.52% respectively. Sporting Goods Stores perform particularly badly, taking both first places for their high share of 0-1 star reviews (8.11%) and last place for 4.5+ star reviews (0.98%).

In fact, the study shows employees at Sporting Goods Stores are 8 times more likely to give a 0-1 star score than a score over 4.5 stars, with a large number of their disgruntled workers located in the South East and Wales.

Furthermore, industries involving manual labour, such as Building & Personnel Services, Agriculture, Taxi & Car Services and Security & Protective have seen significant dissatisfaction among their employees, with a high percentage of 0-1-star reviews.

Senior management teams within the public sector, including Primary & Secondary Schools, National Services & Agencies and Government & Public Administration also perform poorly with their low proportion of 4.5-star ratings and above.

Samuel Roberts, Chief Strategy Officer at Leadership Dynamics, commented: “Running a successful organisation goes beyond effective administration. Leaders establish the vision of the company and have the power to bring people along with them to achieve it. They drive change, resolve conflicts and inspire their workforce. And that workforce’s opinion of senior management is influenced by confidence in their effectiveness and the environment they promote within the workplace.

Leadership teams can improve both their organisational effectiveness and their employee engagement at the same time, but first, they need a clear and objective understanding of their strengths and areas for growth.

Using behavioural evaluation tools, like the PACE assessment, will help companies identify weaknesses in leadership teams and how to overcome these, whether it be via a new senior appointment or developing a new leadership development programme.”

Regionally, The North East & Cumbria stands out with the highest proportion (11.9%) of workers that are highly satisfied with their management teams. Similarly, London boasts the second-highest approval ratings (11.10%), primarily driven by industries such as HR & Staffing, HR & Consulting, and Enterprise Software & Network Solutions. The South West follows closely, displaying a similar trend with HR & Staffing and HR Consulting leading the charts.

Middlesbrough, a relatively small city in the North East, is the city with the highest leadership ratings (12.24%), reflecting the region’s industry rankings. London secures the second position (11.10%), while Bristol takes third place (8.79%) with a strong presence in HR, technology, and consulting sectors. Aberdeen, Scotland, takes last place for its low percentage of 4.5-star ratings (4.36%).

Looking outside of England, senior leaders in Northern Ireland inspire the least amount of enthusiasm; their organisations have the very lowest percentage of 4.5+ star scores at 5.24%. The same goes for leaders in Wales where only 5.88% of organisations received top scores for their leadership teams.

Finally, workers in Sunderland are the most indifferent, inspiring neither enthusiasm nor much anger towards their management team.