News

The global economy is slowing and major risks persist, with growth weakening much more than expected in Europe, according to the OECD's latest Interim Economic Outlook. Economic prospects are now weaker in nearly all G20 countries than previously anticipated. Vulnerabilities stemming from China and the weakening European economy, combined with a slowdown in trade and global manufacturing, high policy uncertainty and risks in financial markets, could undermine strong and sustainable medium-term growth worldwide. The OECD projects that the global economy will grow by 3.3% in 2019 and 3.4% in 2020. The outlook and projections cover all G20 economies. Downward revisions from the previous Economic Outlook in November 2018 are particularly significant for the euro area, notably Germany and Italy, as well as for the United Kingdom, Canada and Turkey.‌ The Outlook identifies the Chinese and European slowdown, as well as the weakening of global trade growth, as the principal factors weighing on the world economy. It underlines that further trade restrictions and policy uncertainty could bring additional adverse effects on global growth. While policy stimulus is expected to help offset weak trade developments in China, risks remain of a sharper slowdown that would hit global growth and trade prospects. "The global economy is facing increasingly serious headwinds," said OECD Chief Economist, Laurence Boone. "A sharper slowdown in any of the major regions could derail activity worldwide, especially if it spills over to financial markets. Governments should intensify multilateral dialogue to limit risks and coordinate policy actions to avoid a further downturn." The Outlook calls on central banks to remain supportive, but stresses that monetary policy alone cannot resolve the downturn in Europe or improve the modest medium-term growth prospects. A new coordinated fiscal stimulus in low-debt European countries, together with renewed structural reforms in all euro area countries would add momentum to a growth rebound, boost productivity and spur wage growth over the medium-term. Source: The Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development 06/03/2019

Mar 07, 2019

Last year during a radio interview on International Women’s Day (IWD), the host asked me, “So when is it International Men’s Day?” It was a glib, throwaway comment (by the way, the answer is 19 November) but it serves to underline one of the biggest misconceptions about gender equality: it is not a zero-sum game. The values of IWD are universal: justice, dignity, hope, equality, collaboration, tenacity, appreciation, respect, empathy and forgiveness. These values have application to all humankind. Why IWD? The other question which arises in conversations about IWD is “Why do we need a day to promote women’s issues? Haven’t women got equality now?” Well, not quite. While it is true that there is significant legislation outlawing discrimination on a number of grounds, we all know that rules and regulations serve to make people compliant; they don’t necessarily change attitudes. If you need an example, just look at the painfully slow levels of progress for women in organisations or the gender pay gap. However, IWD isn’t only about discrimination or lack of progress in the workplace. From the first National Woman's Day, observed in the United States in 1909, to the establishment of a Women’s Day by the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen in 1910, International Women's Day was and continues to be a powerful global platform for raising awareness about issues affecting women. But, IWD also draws attention to the gender pensions gap, access to affordable and safe healthcare and the difficulties experienced by single mothers and women in lower socio-economic groups. Further, IWD encourages girls and young women in school to broaden their thinking and better understand their potential. Many STEM initiatives leverage IWD to promote opportunities and inspire girls to visualise themselves in these careers. Many organisations will schedule events to support the career development of women and increasingly these events are also open to men. Universal benefits The theme of IWD 2019 this Friday, 8 March, is #BalanceforBetter, and men have much to gain from gender equality. For example, many men experience work/family conflict, but neither society nor the workplace support this in the same way they support women’s work/life balance. In her book, The Unfinished Revolution, Kathleen Gerson notes that “Men are deeply wired for emotional connections to children, just like women”. Indeed, there is considerable evidence that, as men do more caregiving, society benefits. Violence against women decreases while the health and well-being of men, women and children improves. International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the progress made to date and to amplify the call for change. It celebrates the courage and determination of women who have engendered change and those who continue to advocate and educate in our society for both men and women. Improving the circumstances of women does not diminish men’s situation. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats, and isn’t that a better outcome for everyone? Dawn Leane is Principal Consultant at LeaneLeaders.

Mar 01, 2019
News

Focusing on the bottom line is not enough to promote long-term organisational success. Employees, customers, and other stakeholders want to know that businesses today have their interests at heart, that operations are guided by core values aligned to the norms of modern society. The 2019 global Edelman Trust Barometer shows that three out of four people trust their employer.  With that trust comes an expectation that the ultimate goal is not profit maximisation.  As the Edelman research highlights, a significant majority of people want to know that their employers have a greater purpose and that their own work will have a meaningful impact on society.  They also want their voices heard in a culture that is values-driven and inclusive, with diversity evident at all levels in the organisation. Walk the talk Embedding diversity and inclusion in organisational culture is a complex task, but one point is clear: if espoused values are not evident in the behaviours at the top, they will never become lived throughout the organisation. There are many reception areas, canteens, and office walls that boast colourful posters celebrating company values that employees do not recognise because these are not the values they see when they look around. Ultimately, the board and senior team must show through their own behaviours that embracing a diverse workplace really is ‘the way we do things here’.  Boards that fail to value diversity send a clear message to employees, and, as we see from the research, that message is not consistent with employee expectations in today’s world. To make diversity a reality, the board and top team must walk the talk. Better balance One important aspect of diversity is gender balance.  While many organisations have moved the dial on this, other companies continue to miss a trick when it comes to women on boards.  The board is the top decision-making body, often operating under considerable pressure to make the right strategic choice in uncertain conditions. Women approach decision-making and risk differently to men, with different outcomes. A balance of these different perspectives results in better long-term decisions, particularly in high-stress situations. It makes good sense to ensure that both men and women have substantive voices on the board and at senior management levels. Many countries have introduced targets or quotas for women on boards, and presumably, Ireland will soon follow.  But, as the Edelman Trust Barometer shows, the majority of employees want employers to lead on issues such as equality, rather than waiting for government intervention. By doing so, companies can build employee trust, which in turn increases workforce engagement and advocacy for the organisation.  As International Women’s day approaches, now is a good time to stop and think about how our organisations demonstrate that they value women and men equally.  Is your board modelling the way? Dr Mary Halton is a board advisor with Align Consulting Ltd, and an adjunct lecturer with the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick.

Mar 01, 2019
News

Sonya Boyce answers common questions about the gender pay gap. What is the gender pay gap? The gender pay gap is the difference in the average gross hourly earnings of male and female paid employees across a workforce. It compares the pay of all working men and women, not just those in similar roles, with similar working hours or similar qualifications or experience. It is usually measured across the economy overall, or an entire industry or occupation and is expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. The gender pay gap in Ireland currently stands at 13.9%, meaning that women earn just under 86 cents for every euro earned by men. What is the difference between the gender pay gap and unequal pay? Often these two terms are used interchangeably but they have different meanings and it is important to differentiate between them. Equal pay for equal work is protected under the Employment Equality Acts 1998–2015, meaning that paying a woman less than a man for the same job because of gender is illegal in Ireland. However, the gender pay gap refers to the difference in the average gross hourly earnings of male and female paid employees across a workforce, not just men and women working in the same role. When an organisation calculates the gender pay gap, it does not identify or indicate if there is any bias or discrimination present. Why does the gender pay gap occur? Paying an individual less for the same job based on their gender is wrong, unethical and illegal. And yet, the pay gap exists. The main reason for this is due to women not being equally represented in senior positions and/or working primarily in low-skilled or part-time roles. Is a gender pay gap a sign of pay discrimination within my organisation? A gender pay gap does not identify or indicate whether men or women are being paid differently for the same work or if there is a gender discrimination issue within an organisation. However, it does typically indicate that there is a gender imbalance within an organisation. Gender pay gap reporting in Ireland – what do we know so far? The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017 is on track for implementation this year. The legislation requires employers to calculate and report on their gender pay information annually and will mirror the United Kingdom’s model, where gender pay gap reporting was introduced in 2017. When enacted, both public and private sector employers will be required to report on employee and salary data, including gender, base salary and the employee’s organisational unit. The responsibility for reporting is expected to fall between HR and payroll departments in organisations with more than 250 employees. This threshold will gradually be reduced to employers with more than 50 employees within three years of implementation. We anticipate employers will be required to submit the data to a designated public body, as well as publishing gender pay gap details on their website. The draft legislation includes a number of measures to tackle non-compliance, including the facility to apply for an order from the Circuit Court or Workplace Relations Commission compelling an employer to comply. What steps can organisations take to reduce the gender pay gap? Efforts to close the gender pay gap are long-term. Organisations must use the information gathered from their gender pay gap reporting to guide and shape their action plan. For example, if an organisation has a large gender imbalance in favour of men at management level, measures to understand why this is happening and how to address it should be put in place. Sonya Boyce is the Senior Manager in HR Consulting in Mazars.

Feb 28, 2019
News

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is urging business owners to prepare now to ensure their businesses can continue to trade with the EU if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. In the event of a no-deal exit, businesses need to register for an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number. UK businesses that have only ever traded inside the EU will not have an EORI number and will be unable to continue trading with the EU without this number. However, HMRC figures show that just 17% of these businesses have registered so far. In September 2018, December 2018 and January 2019, HMRC wrote directly to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses that only trade with the EU advising them to start their preparations and apply for an EORI number. There are another estimated additional 95,000 non-VAT registered businesses that also need to take action. Despite these letters, only 40,973 have registered for an EORI number since October. To help businesses make import and export declarations, HMRC has made £8 million in funding available for traders and intermediaries to support them with training and IT costs. There is still £3 million remaining of this funding, so there’s still time to put in a bid. Source: HMRC

Feb 28, 2019
News

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) has announced two 90-minute webinars supporting the roll-out of the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including International Independence Standards). To join one of the two webinars, any professional using, applying and enforcing the Code should click the link on their preferred date below to register: Thursday March 28, 2019 at 7:00 AM EST Wednesday April 17, 2019 at 10:00 AM EST During the webinar, IESBA representatives will explain the Code's new structure; and the substantive revisions, including to the conceptual framework and provisions relating to inducements, including gifts and hospitality; pressure; and preparing and presenting information. The webinar will also touch on the new Non-Compliance with Laws and Regulation (NOCLAR) and revised Long Association provisions which are already effective; as well as the IESBA's e-Code initiative. Effective mid-June 2019, the Code reinforces professional accountants' responsibility to comply with the five fundamental principles of ethics and emphasises the International Independence Standards that apply in performing audits, reviews and other assurance engagements. More information about the Code is available at the IESBA’s website. Source: The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants 25/02/2019

Feb 26, 2019