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Global Human Capital Trends report: The Rise of the Social Enterprise

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Amid concerns about automation, the need for new skills, an aging workforce and tightening labor markets, the make-or-break issue facing companies this year is the need for realignment among the C-suite to focus on business’ evolving role in society. In its 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, “The Rise of the Social Enterprise,” which can be viewed via its digital-first, progressive web app on mobile, tablet or desktop, Deloitte also examines the increasing expectations of the individual and the breathless pace at which technology is shaping organizations’ human capital priorities.

“As society grapples with daunting demographic, technological and social challenges, people want business leaders to fill the gap, but our research shows they have a long way to go,” said Erica Volini, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, U.S. human capital leader. “This year’s report is a wake-up call for organizations to look beyond their own four walls and reimagine their broader roles in society. Integrating the C-suite to build a more social enterprise will be a differentiator for businesses to attract the right talent, drive customer loyalty and sustain long-term growth.”

With more than 11,000 HR and business leaders weighing in, this year’s Global Human Capital Trends report is the largest longitudinal survey of its kind. Respondents overwhelmingly point to the need for a symphonic C-suite—a team-based, cross-disciplinary approach to tackling complex issues—with 85 percent calling this trend important or very important. Survey results show companies where C-suite executives regularly collaborate are one-third more likely to be growing 10 percent more than companies whose leadership operates in siloes. Despite being necessary to advance the enterprise, 73 percent say their executives do not regularly collaborate.

Filling society’s leadership vacuum

Increased transparency and heightened political awareness have drawn widespread attention to business’ role in society as a driver of change. Organizations find they are increasingly expected to exercise their ability to do social good, both externally for customers, communities and society, as well as internally for their employees. True social enterprises must take a total stakeholder approach to pressing public issues to maintain reputation and relevancy.

With more pressure on businesses to be good citizens and engineer solutions to critical social challenges, citizenship must be a core part of an organization’s identity and mission. In fact, 77 percent of survey respondents cited citizenship as important or very important. According to the “Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017,” millennials’ high expectations for corporate responsibility is a strong contributor, with 76 percent regarding business as a force for positive social impact. Despite the emerging link between social impact and companies’ financial performance, only 18 percent of respondents say citizenship is a top priority in corporate strategy. Thirty-four percent have few or poorly funded citizenship programs, and 22 percent are not focused on this at all.

“Corporate citizenship is now a CEO-level strategy and critical to a company’s bottom line,” said Josh Bersin, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and founder and editor-in-chief of Bersin. “It’s not about check-the-box CSR initiatives, but integrating citizenship, fairness, inclusion, and purpose as core values across work practices. Customers and employees alike are holding companies to higher standards than ever before and rewarding companies who demonstrate socially-conscious behavior with unwavering loyalty.”

Internal and external social forces are also driving attention to the aging global workforce. Extended life expectancies raise questions on how long careers will last and how aging workers will impact economies and public policy. Fifteen percent of survey respondents report that their organizational perspective is that older employees are getting in the way of rising talent. Despite the aging global workforce and the competitive advantages older talent offers, 49 percent of respondents indicate their companies have done nothing to help older workers find new careers as they age, and another 15 percent say older workers are viewed as an impediment to rising talent. However, the aging workforce remains an untapped resource of experience and knowledge for social enterprises to use to their advantage.

As constituencies look to how companies treat their own employees, tackling the alternative workforce takes center stage for socially-conscious organizations. By 2020, 37 percent of organizations expect a growth in contractors, 23 percent in freelancers, and 13 percent in gig workers. Despite this anticipated growth, only 16 percent said they have an established set of policies and practices to manage this variety of worker types. It is critical to successfully implement hybrid workforce strategies because they can have a significant impact on an organization’s employment brand and external reputation.

The power of the individual requires a holistic approach to jobs and careers

In the past year, organizations have become laser-focused on how automation induced job shifts will impact individuals. The Deloitte research shows that more than 4 in 10 companies believe automation will have a major impact on jobs, and 61 percent are now actively redesigning jobs around AI and robotics. Additionally, 72 percent of HR and business leaders rated the topic of AI as important or very important.

Against this backdrop, companies and individuals realize the traditional career model is becoming defunct. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed consider building new career models and skills as very important. More than 54 percent have no programs in place to build the skills of the future, and only 18 percent feel they give employees opportunities to develop themselves. Espousing their role as drivers of change in the social enterprise, companies need to work to develop and implement robust solutions to decrease the growing skills gaps.

In addition to investing in employees’ professional development, organizations must also rethink how they invest in their employees on a personal level. Forty-three percent of those surveyed say well-being reinforces their organization’s mission, 60 percent say it improves employee retention, and 61 percent say it improves productivity and bottom-line results. However, according to Bersin research, only 3 percent of companies think their reward offerings are very effective at motivating talent. In a new social enterprise, companies must explore more frequent rewards and other incentives like vacation time or student-loan forgiveness.

“Personalized incentives and well-being strategies are key differentiators in talent acquisition and retention, particularly in a tight labor market,” said Volini. “Once-a-year reviews and bonuses are table-stakes in today’s enterprises. Expanding rewards and well-being strategies is critical for the C-suite if they want to attract and retain the right individuals.”

Leveraging technology for sustainable growth

With the deployment of AI, robotics, automation, and people analytics showing no signs of slowing down, companies are reconciling a demand for human skills and the need for increased productivity. While 72 percent of respondents see this area as important, only 31 percent feel ready to address it.

“Automation is here to stay and will improve scale, speed and quality,” said Brett Walsh, global human capital leader, Deloitte Global. “But it’s important to remember that as routine work is automated, new jobs will be created—jobs that are more service-oriented, interpretive, social, and play to our essential human skills. Only companies whose C-suite embraces this transformation and redesign how work gets done to leverage these skills will be able to stay a step ahead of their competition.”

Executives anticipate a growing requirement for complex problem-solving (63 percent), cognitive abilities (55 percent), and social skills (52 percent). To that end, 70 percent of respondents believe workers will spend more time on collaboration platforms in the future and 67 percent anticipate a growth in “work-based social media.” As a flood of new workplace communications tools augments team-based work, 47 percent of organizations cite the productivity of the hyperconnected workforce as a very important issue.

As technology permeates the workplace, people analytics is at the top of executives’ minds, with 84 percent of respondents rating it as important or very important, while only 10 percent of respondents feel very ready to deal with this challenge. With 64 percent of companies actively managing legal liability related to their organization’s people data, only 22 percent have excellent processes to safeguard this data, exposing them to additional risks that can threaten their status as a social enterprise if not proactively managed.

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Clean energy demand for critical minerals set to soar as the world pursues net zero goals

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Supplies of critical minerals essential for key clean energy technologies like electric vehicles and wind turbines need to pick up sharply over the coming decades to meet the world’s climate goals, creating potential energy security hazards that governments must act now to address, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency. 

The special report, The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions, is the most comprehensive global study to date on the central importance of minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements in a secure and rapid transformation of the global energy sector. Building on the IEA’s longstanding leadership role in energy security, the report recommends six key areas of action for policy makers to ensure that critical minerals enable an accelerated transition to clean energy rather than becoming a bottleneck.

“Today, the data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realising those ambitions,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA. “The challenges are not insurmountable, but governments must give clear signals about how they plan to turn their climate pledges into action. By acting now and acting together, they can significantly reduce the risks of price volatility and supply disruptions.”

“Left unaddressed, these potential vulnerabilities could make global progress towards a clean energy future slower and more costly – and therefore hamper international efforts to tackle climate change,” Dr Birol said. “This is what energy security looks like in the 21st century, and the IEA is fully committed to helping governments ensure that these hazards don’t derail the global drive to accelerate energy transitions.”

The special report, part of the IEA’s flagship World Energy Outlook series, underscores that the mineral requirements of an energy system powered by clean energy technologies differ profoundly from one that runs on fossil fuels. A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car, and an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a similarly sized gas-fired power plant.

Demand outlooks and supply vulnerabilities vary widely by mineral, but the energy sector’s overall needs for critical minerals could increase by as much as six times by 2040, depending on how rapidly governments act to reduce emissions. Not only is this a massive increase in absolute terms, but as the costs of technologies fall, mineral inputs will account for an increasingly important part of the value of key components, making their overall costs more vulnerable to potential mineral price swings.

The commercial importance of these minerals also grow rapidly: today’s revenue from coal production is ten times larger than from energy transition minerals. However, in climate-driven scenarios, these positions are reversed well before 2040.

To produce the report, the IEA built on its detailed, technology-rich energy modelling tools to establish a unique database showing future mineral requirements under varying scenarios that span a range of levels of climate action and 11 different technology evolution pathways. In climate-driven scenarios, mineral demand for use in batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage is a major force, growing at least thirty times to 2040. The rise of low-carbon power generation to meet climate goals also means a tripling of mineral demand from this sector by 2040. Wind takes the lead, bolstered by material-intensive offshore wind. Solar PV follows closely, due to the sheer volume of capacity that is added. The expansion of electricity networks also requires a huge amount of copper and aluminium.

Unlike oil – a commodity produced around the world and traded in liquid markets – production and processing of many minerals such as lithium, cobalt and some rare earth elements are highly concentrated in a handful of countries, with the top three producers accounting for more than 75% of supplies. Complex and sometimes opaque supply chains also increase the risks that could arise from physical disruptions, trade restrictions or other developments in major producing countries. In addition, while there is no shortage of resources, the quality of available deposits is declining as the most immediately accessible resources are exploited. Producers also face the necessity of stricter environmental and social standards.

The IEA report provides six key recommendations for policy makers to foster stable supplies of critical minerals to support accelerated clean energy transitions. These include the need for governments to lay out their long-term commitments for emission reductions, which would provide the confidence needed for suppliers to invest in and expand mineral production. Governments should also promote technological advances, scale up recycling to relieve pressure on primary supplies, maintain high environmental and social standards, and strengthen international collaboration between producers and consumers.

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Global e-commerce jumps to $26.7 trillion, fuelled by COVID-19

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Parts of the online economy have boomed since COVID-19 began, while some pre-pandemic big-hitters have seen a reversal of their fortunes in the last year, amid widespread movement restrictions, UN economists have found.

According to UN trade and development experts UNCTAD, the e-commerce sector saw a “dramatic” rise in its share of all retail sales, from 16 per cent to 19 per cent in 2020.

The digital retail economy experienced most growth in the Republic of Korea, where internet sales increased from around one in five transactions in 2019, to more than one in four last year.

“These statistics show the growing importance of online activities”, said Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics. “They also point to the need for countries, especially developing ones, to have such information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The UK also saw a spike in online transactions over the same period, from 15.8 to 23.3 per cent; so too did China (from 20.7 to 24.9 per cent), the US (11 to 14 per cent), Australia (6.3 to 9.4 per cent), Singapore (5.9 to 11.7 per cent) and Canada (3.6 to 6.2 per cent).  

Online business-to-consumer (B2C) sales for the world’s top 13 companies stood at $2.9 trillion in 2020, UNCTAD said on Friday.

Bumpy ride

UNCTAD also said that among the top 13 e-commerce firms – most being from China and the US – those offering ride-hailing and travel services have suffered.

These include holiday site Expedia, which fell from fifth place in 2019 to 11th in 2020, a slide mirrored by travel aggregator, Booking Holdings, and Airbnb.

By comparison, e-firms offering a wider range of services and goods to online consumers fared better, with the top 13 companies seeing a more than 20 per cent increase in their sales – up from 17.9 per cent in 2019.

These winners include Shopify, whose gains rose more than 95 per cent last year – and Walmart (up 72.4 per cent). 

Cashing-up

Overall, global e-commerce sales jumped to $26.7 trillion in 2019, up four per cent from a year earlier, the UN number-crunchers noted, citing the latest available estimates.

In addition to consumer online purchases, this figure includes “business-to-business” (B2B) trade, which put together was worth 30 per cent of global gross domestic product two years ago.

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COVID-19 has reshaped last-mile logistics, with e-commerce deliveries rising 25% in 2020

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COVID-19 has shifted the way people buy goods, accelerating the rise in online shopping and e-commerce deliveries. According to a new report from the World Economic Forum, this has led to a 25% rise in consumer e-commerce deliveries in 2020.

The new report, Pandemic, Parcels and Public Vaccination: Envisioning the Next Normal for the Last-Mile Ecosystem, explores changes seen over the last year which will greatly influence last mile deliveries in the future. For example, it’s expected that 10%-20% of the recent increase in e-commerce deliveries will continue after the pandemic and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Covid-19 shutdowns have completely reshaped how we live and of course this includes how and what we’re buying,” said Christoph Wolff, Head of Mobility, World Economic Forum. “Leaders must consider and respond to the effects COVID-19 has had on e-commerce deliveries and what impact these changes will have on their cities and communities.”

Beyond rising demand, the past year has also seen a large shift to greener delivery options, with wider spread EV across the industry and more stringent carbon emission rules from cities expected to shape delivery networks in the near future.

Overall, the report finds six main structural changes to the delivery and logistics sector that are expected to last:

Six structural changes

The pandemic has caused an increase in last-mile deliveries that are likely to persist.
In 2020, business-to-consumer parcel deliveries have risen by about 25%. The report suggests that part of this increased demand will be durable, with at least 10%-20% of the growth remaining post-pandemic.

Consumers increasingly buy new types of products online and consider environmental and health impact when buying.
As consumers continue to buy a wider array of goods online, they are also becoming more ecologically aware. For example, 56% of millennials cite environmental protection as the reason for choosing alternatives to home delivery.

Decarbonization of last-mile deliveries has accelerated.
Companies and cities have ramped up commitments to make emission-free deliveries, while many pandemic-related economic stimulus packages, especially in the European Union and China, contain provisions to support green mobility and goods transport.

Faced with budget challenges and increased transport needs, cities steer last-mile transitions.
Many cities, like Seattle and Boston, have started to repurpose kerb space to designated delivery pick-up. Others, including Santa Monica and Amsterdam, are taking bold action on cleaner delivery with “zero-emission delivery zones” and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Proven technologies are fuelling the last-mile ecosystem revolution.
While disruptive new technologies, such as drones and delivery robots, will continue to emerge, the last-mile revolution is happening now as proven technologies scale up. The likes of parcel lockers and data sharing for load pooling are being adopted around the world as the costs of implementation decrease

New business models emerge to meet increased demand for sustainable delivery vehicles.
Certain logistics companies are now offering services to online retailers, which will help them identify the delivery routes most suited to make the immediate transition to electric delivery vehicles.

Last mile for vaccines

While ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines remains the most pressing issue in global vaccine distribution, effective last-mile delivery is another critical issue for countries. The key challenges are cold storage, second vaccine dose needs, and a disconnect between the vaccine and patient journey.

“Governments and logistics companies could think about teaming up with players who are experienced in managing very local, capillary demand and with integrating a large number of local retail outlets,” says Anja Huber, Engagement Manager, McKinsey & Company. “Examples include large online retailers, eGrocery giants and technology platform players”

Potential solutions countries can implement for efficient vaccine delivery include real-time logistics planning, data integration, centralized management of delivery strategies at the national level and many more.

There are also early examples of countries that have handled this challenge particularly well. While there are many factors in vaccine distribution success, broadly speaking, countries with tight integration of healthcare and logistics stakeholders seem to show the highest national vaccination rates two months into 2021.

These include Israel, the UK and Chile outperforming other countries with more decentralized healthcare systems, like the US and Germany, which had slower initial vaccine rollouts.

Clearly, much still needs to be done to ensure developed countries overcome operational issues with vaccine delivery. However, mobility solutions should not overshadow an even larger ethical challenge in the differences of vaccine access between the global north and global south, which is a priority for greater equity.

Future of the last mile

The impact of COVID-19 on the last-mile delivery has accelerated existing trends across the sector, leading to six structural changes expected to shape the future of last mile deliveries.

These will be part of a broader urban mobility transition, driven by public policy and company actions. As cities and logistics leaders continue the sustainable urban delivery transition, close public-private coordination will be critical. Zero Emissions Urban Fleets (ZEUF) network, for example, provides a relevant dedicated stakeholder platform for this work.

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