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Viewpoint: Tackling poverty will reap workforce benefits for business

"Nonprofits and the business community have a tremendous opportunity to work together to build and sustain a home-grown, highly skilled, well-trained workforce that empowers those living in poverty to earn livable incomes.".....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 25th, 2021

A Food Industry Reset Can Cut At Least 10% Of Global Emissions

S&P Global Ratings’ most recent report has found that the food system is responsible for about one-third of global GHG emissions, including up to 10% from lost or wasted food. Food supply disruptions due to the pandemic and extreme weather have further brought this issue into the spotlight. However, if it optimises its food production […] S&P Global Ratings’ most recent report has found that the food system is responsible for about one-third of global GHG emissions, including up to 10% from lost or wasted food. Food supply disruptions due to the pandemic and extreme weather have further brought this issue into the spotlight. However, if it optimises its food production and supply chain by adopting more efficient systems, the food industry could reduce food waste which would, in turn, help pave the way to a more sustainable future. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Key Takeaways Each year, a staggering one-third of food produced globally--worth almost $1 trillion--is lost or wasted, with unconsumed food contributing up to 10% of global greenhouse gases (GHG) in addition to emissions from farming, processing, and other activities. More efficient food systems will help eliminate food loss and waste while reducing the impact on the environment, especially since about 14% of the world's food is lost before reaching supermarket shelves. With the U.N.'s 2030 target for halving per capita food waste fast approaching, we believe the food industry can create a path to more sustainable food production and supply through closer collaboration and process integration. Companies able and willing to adjust their business models and adopt sustainable agronomic practices can strengthen their resilience to operating setbacks and reduce food-related emissions, while delivering higher margins through value-added product offerings. Studies suggest that the food system is responsible for about one-third of global GHG emissions, including up to 10% from lost or wasted food. This stands out when compared with about 12% from manufacturing and construction and 14% for the transportation sector, according to data from the World Resources Institute (WRI). Food supply disruptions, especially over the past two years due to the pandemic and extreme weather, have brought this issue further into the spotlight. Last year, for example, one of the warmest on record according to the World Meteorological Organization, thunderstorms, wildfires, plagues, and drought destroyed millions of hectares of crops and displaced thousands of people. In addition, COVID-19-related restrictions severely hampered the transport of agricultural commodities over air, land, and sea. This increased the amount of food lost or wasted at the production and retail stages, already vulnerable to storage capacity, freight availability, and political instability among other factors. S&P Global Ratings believes agribusinesses can strengthen the food production and supply chain through closer collaboration at every stage, both downstream and upstream. There are meaningful gains to be had, for example by companies expanding into advanced food ingredient technologies to improve product shelf life, or by integrating transport with processing and sales. Some companies are already rethinking their long-term strategies, putting greater emphasis on managing environmental and social risks. We believe they stand to gain a competitive advantage using this approach. The big question is whether they can do enough to have a visible impact on food-related emissions by 2030. The High Cost Of Food Loss Although limited data is available, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates (2016) show that, excluding retail and households, about 14% of the world's food is lost between the harvest and retail stages. Before and during consumption, the highest food loss and waste per capita occurs in Asia, according to a World Economic Forum report, followed by North America and Europe. The report states that "if food waste were a country, it would rank behind only the U.S. and China for greenhouse gas emissions." The UN Environment Program (UNEP)'s Food Waste Index indicates that, in 2019, 61% of food waste came from households, 26% from food service, and 13% from retail. A large share of food waste stems from consumers, food providers, and retailers in developed markets. In North America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that, in 2010, 31% of the domestic food supply was lost, to the tune of about $161 billion. Seven years later, a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures showed that about 40% of food produced in the U.S. is wasted throughout the supply chain, from farms to households, while 41 million Americans faced food insecurity in 2016. In the U.K., despite considerable progress in this area, estimates show that households and businesses still waste around 9.5 million tonnes (mt) of food per year (70% intended for human consumption) valued at over £19 billion. The edible portion of this food (6.4 mt) would have been enough to feed the entire U.K. population three meals a day for 11 weeks. Food is wasted in many ways. Here are just three of them: Edible fresh produce not meeting certain criteria, for example in terms of shape, size, and color, is dumped during sorting operations. Foods that are close to, at, or beyond the "best before" date are often discarded by retailers and consumers. Large quantities of edible food not eaten by households and restaurants are often thrown away. More Businesses Need To Focus On Sustainability While the world is focusing on the energy transition, the U.N.'s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) are keeping the attention on issues such as hunger, poverty, climate action, and sustainable cities and communities. Resolving these clearly also support the reduction of GHG emissions. In particular, SDG 12 is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, including a target (SDG 12.3) to halve--by 2030--per capita food waste at the retail and consumer levels, while reducing food losses during production and supply. Over 190 countries formally agreed to the SDGs, set in 2015, as part of the U.N.'s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Yet only 1% of food companies' business models support responsible consumption and production, according to a September 2020 Trucost survey of 3,500 companies representing 85% of global market capitalization. And not much time is left before 2030. The Trucost report also states that about 90% of the companies it examined provide products and services related to food logistics, including taking products from harvest through to consumption. Among the largest global food corporations working with farmers, retailers, and other organizations in support of the SDGs are market leader Cargill, which has launched several initiatives under its Sustainable Supply Chains program (beef, cocoa, corn, and cotton, among others). Similarly, ADM (food and beverage ingredients) has SDG-aligned environmental targets it aims to achieve by 2035, including a 25% drop in GHG emissions. Nestle (more than 2,000 food and beverage brands) has committed to tackling emissions through 100% deforestation-free supply by 2022, 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025, and food loss/waste reduction targets. Bunge (the world's largest oilseed processor) has an ambitious goal that includes a deforestation-free supply chain by 2025. Mondelez (brands include Cadbury, Philadelphia, and Oreo) reports that it's on track with its 2022-2025 sustainable-ingredients targets. Danone (including Activia, Alpro, and Silk) has pledged a 50% reduction of food waste from the 2016 level, plus 100% next-generation, recyclable, biodegradable packaging by 2025. There Are Many Possible Solutions Several global companies plan to effect changes to reduce the environmental impact of their own activities, but this is not enough to transform the entire food production and supply chain. Successful collaboration and consolidation won't be easy, but food companies have several options open to them. Support for farmers and the local salesforce through better data, technology, and training. We believe direct links with farmers and closer relationships with salespeople where crops are grown are increasingly important to limit loss at production. In large crop-producing regions such as the eastern coast of Latin America, South East Asia, and the Black Sea, local currency inflation and volatility often mean that farmers make storage, sale, and process decisions every week, depending on trading data. Such fragmented decision-making means that transport companies operating with long-term contracts might see their freight capacity underutilized if farmers renege on supply contracts. This is a particular risk if the monetary penalty for farmers is small relative to the potential gain of diverting the sale. Value-added products in food processing can help reduce waste further down the line and offer agribusinesses opportunities for profitable growth. Innovative technologies can help reduce waste at consumer level by improving the shelf life and appearance of staple foods. In addition, they can promote more efficient crop use by improving the taste and texture of more environmentally friendly plant-based food. Many companies are investing in this are also looking at new materials, to be used, among other things, in food handling and packaging. Collaboration with retailers is key to cutting distribution inefficiencies and food waste at households. This will enable large agribusinesses and consumer product companies to reap the full benefits of their measures to tackle food waste. Grocers, for instance, can play a huge role in influencing consumers' food choices and attitude toward waste. In recognition of this, leading agribusinesses, consumer products groups, and food retailers have joined the WRI's "10x20x30" initiative since it launched in 2019. The program aims to drive progress on SDG 12.3, using a "whole chain" approach, with participating companies pledging to engage with at least 20 of their suppliers and--together--halve their food loss and waste by 2030. Adoption of the "Target-Measure-Act" strategy can help track sources of waste/loss, find solutions, and record progress. The strategy was launched by U.K. sustainable resources advocate WRAP and the IDG (Institute of Grocery Distribution) in 2018 as part of the country's Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, which is geared toward the U.N.'s SDG 12.3 target. Three years into the program, nearly 200 companies, including top global names like Unilever, Nestle, Mondelez, and PepsiCo have committed to using the Target-Measure-Act method to speed up food loss/waste reduction in their operations, and make the results public. U.K.-based Tesco was the first retailer to use the approach, inviting 27 suppliers to take part in 2017. WRAP has also called on COP26 delegates to adopt to Target-Measure-Act to tackle climate change. The U.K.'s September 2021 Food Waste Reduction Roadmap progress report showed that businesses had lowered food waste by an estimated 17%--worth £365 million--over the previous year. The U.K. is the first nation to create a plan to achieve SDG 12.3's target of reducing food loss and waste by 50% by 2030. Increased use of processed food byproducts and restaurant waste for renewable fuels. Animal fats and meal resulting from meat processing, well as cooking oils from food-service establishments, are increasingly being used to produce renewable fuel, thereby reducing the amount of waste as well as reliance on fossil fuel. Under initiatives such as the U.S. National Renewable Fuel Standard Program, gasoline refiners are required to increase their blend of such biofuels into the gasoline supply, with production mandates for renewable and biofuels expected to increase by more than 20% in 2022 compared with 2020 levels. Continued biofuel demand growth will also increase the economic value of such byproducts for recycling into fuels. In fact, a market for various grease grades (for example yellow grease, choice white grease, and poultry grease) already exists, with prices rising more than 100% year over year in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2021, according to the Jacobson Index. What Food Companies Are Already Doing We see global agri-commodity companies consolidating their agricultural platforms (such as for grain, coffee, and cotton), while pursuing geographic expansion and shifting their product mix toward more sustainable alternatives. Scale and cost efficiencies should enable them to deliver affordable products. However, they are increasingly recognizing that to improve supply chain sustainability, they have to invest upstream as well as downstream to reduce reliance on less sustainable food inputs even though they may be more cost effective. The related investments typically stop short of direct ownership of farmland and crop production, but look at all parts of the food system's infrastructure. This includes partnering with growers and supporting them with new sustainable technologies and processes. Such an approach could entail optimizing drying, storage, and quality controls, land transit, and the high volume of crops passing through port terminals. Article by S&P Global Ratings Updated on Nov 17, 2021, 11:56 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkNov 17th, 2021

The city of Glasgow, Scotland prepares to host COP26 in November, while setting ambitious sustainability goals of its own

Glasgow, Scotland will host global government and business leaders for COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The city has also set its own ambitious goals for tackling climate change, aiming to reach net zero by 2030. The SSE Hydro venue in Glasgow, Scotland will be hosting the COP26 UN Climate Summit in November. Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images Starting November 1, 2021, Scotland's capital city of Glasgow will host COP26. COP26 is the United Nations Climate Change Conference that will see world leaders convene on decisions set to shape the future of humanity. Glasgow itself is committed to becoming net-zero carbon by 2030, one of the most ambitious targets set by a European city. See more stories on Insider's business page. This November, Glasgow, Scotland, will host COP26, which is the United Nations Climate Change Conference that will see world leaders convene on decisions set to shape the future of humanity. But what is the city itself doing to tackle climate change?With the world watching, Glasgow is aiming high. The city's climate commitments aim to surpass those of the rest of Scotland, who want to reach net-zero by 2045, as well as the United Kingdom's overall target of net-zero by 2050."Our aim is to become net-zero carbon by 2030, and our target is one of the most ambitious in Europe," explains a Glasgow City Council spokesperson, who adds "we've reduced our CO2 emissions by 41% since 2006, surpassing our 30% target." Sustainability plans in action Advocating for a "whole systems approach," Glasgow's council says current sustainability projects include decarbonizing the city's energy systems and formulating plans to supercharge education and behavior change of Glasgow's citizens, businesses, and wider stakeholders.Following a recently commissioned Integrated Net Zero Scoping Study, the city plans to combine local energy, land use, and transport industries into the plans for change.The city recently launched the Sustainable Glasgow Charter, which "enables businesses to make a public commitment towards achieving more sustainable outcomes, thus ensuring that the city is working together collaboratively."In fact, much of the city's work thus far has been about getting local businesses on board. Alison McRae, senior director of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, an independent organization promoting commerce across the city and wider region, explains how her organization works with partners Zero Waste Scotland and the council, to deliver their 'Circular Glasgow' initiative.Five years in, the program helps businesses become future-proof and able to pivot in line with future sustainability policies through events and networking activities.According to McRae, COP26 has sped up education schemes and business engagement programs that will "mold the minds of the future workforce by showing them how they can engage with businesses tackling climate change."The city is also launching a carbon-neutral city district, starting with the implementation of a so-called 'Smart Street'. The street, located in an area with residential, academic, community, retail, and industrial buildings in central Glasgow, will integrate planned regeneration with smart city capabilities. Put simply, this "includes the installation of a roof-mounted solar PV canopy, ducted wind turbines, energy arbitrage, power storage, EV charging, and smart grid controls," explains a city spokesperson. Describing the street as a demonstration of what smart, sustainable energy systems might look like in Glasgow - and the rest of the world - in the future, the council says the street will tackle issues surrounding fuel poverty, aging infrastructure, and air pollution."We are also currently looking to retrofit the city's traditional sandstone tenements, which are notoriously difficult to heat," says the spokesperson. "There will be substantial investment needed to bring these buildings up to modern energy efficiency standards." Still some way to go The retrofitting plans mark one of the city's key stumbling blocks - getting enough money to support long-term goals. Both governmental and private funding will be crucial to reaching net-zero by 2030. McRae says that making it easier for businesses to engage in the agenda will be essential to this. "We want to work with the government to achieve net-zero ambitions, but we want to do this whilst also ensuring our economy grows."On the path to post-pandemic recovery, the commerce is "mindful of the need to minimize disruption of our city center," during COP26. They want to make sure that businesses can maximize the benefits of the summit both during the event and afterward.While some projects are coming to fruition in Glasgow, many of the city's goals are still in the planning stage. "As a city, we will come up against many challenges as our 2030 target gets closer," explains the Glasgow City Council spokesperson. "We need to ensure that the historic societal problems Glasgow has faced, such as high levels of fuel poverty, are tackled in line with the levels of investment. We need to ensure that we don't disproportionately impact the most vulnerable in our communities as we tackle the climate emergency."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 6th, 2021

Inside Frances Haugen’s Decision to Take on Facebook

Blowing the whistle against a multibillion-dollar tech company is no small feat Frances Haugen is in the back of a Paris taxi, waving a piece of sushi in the air. The cab is on the way to a Hilton hotel, where this November afternoon she is due to meet with the French digital economy minister. The Eiffel Tower appears briefly through the window, piercing a late-fall haze. Haugen is wolfing down lunch on the go, while recalling an episode from her childhood. The teacher of her gifted and talented class used to play a game where she would read to the other children the first letter of a word from the dictionary and its definition. Haugen and her classmates would compete, in teams, to guess the word. “At some point, my classmates convinced the teacher that it was unfair to put me on either team, because whichever team had me was going to win and so I should have to compete against the whole class,” she says. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Did she win? “I did win,” she says with a level of satisfaction that quickly fades to indignation. “And so imagine! That makes kids hate you!” She pops an edamame into her mouth with a flourish. “I look back and I’m like, That was a bad idea.” She tells the story not to draw attention to her precociousness—although it does do that—but to share the lesson it taught her. “This shows you how badly some educators understand psychology,” she says. While some have described the Facebook whistle-blower as an activist, Haugen says she sees herself as an educator. To her mind, an important part of her mission is driving home a message in a way that resonates with people, a skill she has spent years honing. Photograph by Christopher Anderson—Magnum Photos for TIME It is the penultimate day of a grueling three-week tour of Europe, during which Haugen has cast herself in the role of educator in front of the U.K. and E.U. Parliaments, regulators and one tech conference crowd. Haugen says she wanted to cross the Atlantic to offer her advice to lawmakers putting the final touches on new regulations that take aim at the outsize influence of large social media companies. The new U.K. and E.U. laws have the potential to force Facebook and its competitors to open up their algorithms to public scrutiny, and face large fines if they fail to address problematic impacts of their platforms. European lawmakers and regulators “have been on this journey a little longer” than their U.S. counterparts, Haugen says diplomatically. “My goal was to support lawmakers as they think through these issues.” Beginning in late summer, Haugen, 37, disclosed tens of thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents to Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The documents were the basis of a series of articles in the Wall Street Journal that sparked a reckoning in September over what the company knew about how it contributed to harms ranging from its impact on teens’ mental health and the extent of misinformation on its platforms, to human traffickers’ open use of its services. The documents paint a picture of a company that is often aware of the harms to which it contributes—but is either unwilling or unable to act against them. Haugen’s disclosures set Facebook stock on a downward trajectory, formed the basis for eight new whistle-blower complaints to the SEC and have prompted lawmakers around the world to intensify their calls for regulation of the company. Facundo Arrizabalaga—EPA/EFE/ShutterstockHaugen leaves the Houses of Parliament in London on Oct. 25 after giving evidence to U.K. lawmakers. Facebook has rejected Haugen’s claims that it puts profits before safety, and says it spends $5 billion per year on keeping its platforms safe. “As a company, we have every commercial and moral incentive to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on our apps,” a spokesperson said in a statement. Although many insiders have blown the whistle on Facebook before, nobody has left the company with the breadth of material that Haugen shared. And among legions of critics in politics, academia and media, no single person has been as effective as Haugen in bringing public attention to Facebook’s negative impacts. When Haugen decided to blow the whistle against Facebook late last year, the company employed more than 58,000 people. Many had access to the documents that she would eventually pass to authorities. Why did it take so long for somebody to do what she did? Read More: How Facebook Forced a Reckoning by Shutting Down the Team That Put People Ahead of Profits One answer is that blowing the whistle against a multibillion-dollar tech company requires a particular combination of skills, personality traits and circumstances. In Haugen’s case, it took one near-death experience, a lost friend, several crushed hopes, a cryptocurrency bet that came good and months in counsel with a priest who also happens to be her mother. Haugen’s atypical personality, glittering academic background, strong moral convictions, robust support networks and self-confidence also helped. Hers is the story of how all these factors came together—some by chance, some by design—to create a watershed moment in corporate responsibility, human communication and democracy. When debate coach Scott Wunn first met a 16-year-old Haugen at Iowa City West High School, she had already been on the team for two years, after finishing junior high a year early. He was an English teacher who had been headhunted to be the debate team’s new coach. The school took this kind of extracurricular activity seriously, and so did the young girl with the blond hair. In their first exchange, Wunn remembers Haugen grilling him about whether he would take coaching as seriously as his other duties. “I could tell from that moment she was very serious about debate,” says Wunn, who is now the executive director of the National Speech and Debate Association. “When we ran tournaments, she was the student who stayed the latest, who made sure that all of the students on the team were organized. Everything that you can imagine, Frances would do.” Haugen specialized in a form of debate that specifically asked students to weigh the morality of every issue, and by her senior year, she had become one of the top 25 debaters in the country in her field. “Frances was a math whiz, and she loved political science,” Wunn says. In competitive debate, you don’t get to decide which side of the issue you argue for. But Haugen had a strong moral compass, and when she was put in a position where she had to argue for something she disagreed with, she didn’t lean back on “flash in the pan” theatrics, her former coach remembers. Instead, she would dig deeper to find evidence for an argument she could make that wouldn’t compromise her values. “Her moral convictions were strong enough, even at that age, that she wouldn’t try to manipulate the evidence such that it would go against her morality,” Wunn says. When Haugen got to college, she realized she needed to master another form of communication. “Because my parents were both professors, I was used to having dinner-table conversations where, like, someone would have read an interesting article that day, and would basically do a five-minute presentation,” she says. “And so I got to college, and I had no idea how to make small talk.” Today, Haugen is talkative and relaxed. She’s in a good mood because she got to “sleep in” until 8:30 a.m.—later than most other days on her European tour, she says. At one point, she asks if I’ve seen the TV series Archer and momentarily breaks into a song from the animated sitcom. After graduating from Olin College of Engineering—where, beyond the art of conversation, she studied the science of computer engineering—Haugen moved to Silicon Valley. During a stint at Google, she helped write the code for Secret Agent Cupid, the precursor to popular dating app Hinge. She took time off to undertake an M.B.A. at Harvard, a rarity for software engineers in Silicon Valley and something she would later credit with helping her diagnose some of the organizational flaws within Facebook. But in 2014, while back at Google, Haugen’s trajectory was knocked off course. Haugen has celiac disease, a condition that means her immune system attacks her own tissues if she eats gluten. (Hence the sushi.) She “did not take it seriously enough” in her 20s, she says. After repeated trips to the hospital, doctors eventually realized she had a blood clot in her leg that had been there for anywhere between 18 months and two years. Her leg turned purple, and she ended up in the hospital for over a month. There she had an allergic reaction to a drug and nearly bled to death. She suffered nerve damage in her hands and feet, a condition known as neuropathy, from which she still suffers today. “I think it really changes your priorities when you’ve almost died,” Haugen says. “Everything that I had defined myself [by] before, I basically lost.” She was used to being the wunderkind who could achieve anything. Now, she needed help cooking her meals. “My recovery made me feel much more powerful, because I rebuilt my body,” she says. “I think the part that informed my journey was: You have to accept when you whistle-blow like this that you could lose everything. You could lose your money, you could lose your freedom, you could alienate everyone who cares about you. There’s all these things that could happen to you. Once you overcome your fear of death, anything is possible. I think it gave me the freedom to say: Do I want to follow my conscience?” Once Haugen was out of the hospital, she moved back into her apartment but struggled with daily tasks. She hired a friend to assist her part time. “I became really close friends with him because he was so committed to my getting better,” she says. But over the course of six months, in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, she says, “I just lost him” to online misinformation. He seemed to believe conspiracy theories, like the idea that George Soros runs the world economy. “At some point, I realized I couldn’t reach him,” she says. Soon Haugen was physically recovering, and she began to consider re-entering the workforce. She spent stints at Yelp and Pinterest as a successful product manager working on algorithms. Then, in 2018, a Facebook recruiter contacted her. She told him that she would take the job only if she could work on tackling misinformation in Facebook’s “integrity” operation, the arm of the company focused on keeping the platform and its users safe. “I took that job because losing my friend was just incredibly painful, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that pain,” she says. Her optimism that she could make a change from inside lasted about two months. Haugen’s first assignment involved helping manage a project to tackle misinformation in places where the company didn’t have any third-party fact-checkers. Everybody on her team was a new hire, and she didn’t have the data scientists she needed. “I went to the engineering manager, and I said, ‘This is the inappropriate team to work on this,’” she recalls. “He said, ‘You shouldn’t be so negative.’” The pattern repeated itself, she says. “I raised a lot of concerns in the first three months, and my concerns were always discounted by my manager and other people who had been at the company for longer.” Before long, her entire team was shifted away from working on international misinformation in some of Facebook’s most vulnerable markets to working on the 2020 U.S. election, she says. The documents Haugen would later disclose to authorities showed that in 2020, Facebook spent 3.2 million hours tackling misinformation, although just 13% of that time was spent on content from outside the U.S., the Journal reported. Facebook’s spokesperson said in a statement that the company has “dedicated teams with expertise in human rights, hate speech and misinformation” working in at-risk countries. “We dedicate resources to these countries, including those without fact-checking programs, and have been since before, during and after the 2020 U.S. elections, and this work continues today.” Read More: Why Some People See More Disturbing Content on Facebook Than Others, According to Leaked Documents Haugen said that her time working on misinformation in foreign countries made her deeply concerned about the impact of Facebook abroad. “I became concerned with India even in the first two weeks I was in the company,” she says. Many people who were accessing the Internet for the first time in places like India, Haugen realized after reading research on the topic, did not even consider the possibility that something they had read online might be false or misleading. “From that moment on, I was like, Oh, there is a huge sleeping dragon at Facebook,” she says. “We are advancing the Internet to other countries far faster than it happened in, say, the U.S.,” she says, noting that people in the U.S. have had time to build up a “cultural muscle” of skepticism toward online content. “And I worry about the gap [until] that information immune system forms.” In February 2020, Haugen sent a text message to her parents asking if she could come and live with them in Iowa when the pandemic hit. Her mother Alice Haugen recalls wondering what pandemic she was talking about, but agreed. “She had made a spreadsheet with a simple exponential growth model that tried to guess when San Francisco would be shut down,” Alice says. A little later, Frances asked if she could send some food ahead of her. Soon, large Costco boxes started arriving at the house. “She was trying to bring in six months of food for five people, because she was afraid that the supply lines might break down,” Alice says. “Our living room became a small grocery store.” After quarantining for 10 days upon arrival, the younger Haugen settled into lockdown life with her parents, continuing her work for Facebook remotely. “We shared meals, and every day we would have conversations,” Alice says. She recalled her daughter voicing specific concerns about Facebook’s impact in Ethiopia, where ethnic violence was playing out on—and in some cases being amplified by—Facebook’s platforms. On Nov. 9, Facebook said it had been investing in safety measures in Ethiopia for more than two years, including activating algorithms to down-rank potentially inflammatory content in several languages in response to escalating violence there. Haugen acknowledges the work, saying she wants to give “credit where credit is due,” but claims the social network was too late to intervene with safety measures in Ethiopia and other parts of the world. “The idea that they don’t even turn those knobs on until people are getting shot is completely unacceptable,” she says. “The reality right now is that Facebook is not willing to invest the level of resources that would allow it to intervene sooner.” A Facebook spokesperson defended the prioritization system in its statement, saying that the company has long-term strategies to “mitigate the impacts of harmful offline events in the countries we deem most at risk … while still protecting freedom of expression and other human rights principles.” What Haugen saw was happening in nations like Ethiopia and India would clarify her opinions about “engagement-based ranking”—the system within Facebook more commonly known as “the algorithm”—that chooses which posts, out of thousands of options, to rank at the top of users’ feeds. Haugen’s central argument is that human nature means this system is doomed to amplify the worst in us. “One of the things that has been well documented in psychology research is that the more times a human is exposed to something, the more they like it, and the more they believe it’s true,” she says. “One of the most dangerous things about engagement-based ranking is that it is much easier to inspire someone to hate than it is to compassion or empathy. Given that you have a system that hyperamplifies the most extreme content, you’re going to see people who get exposed over and over again to the idea that [for example] it’s O.K. to be violent to Muslims. And that destabilizes societies.” In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. election, according to media reports, some initiatives proposed by Facebook’s integrity teams to tackle misinformation and other problems were killed or watered down by executives on the policy side of the company, who are responsible both for setting the platform’s rules and lobbying governments on Facebook’s behalf. Facebook spokespeople have said in response that the interventions were part of the company’s commitment to nuanced policymaking that balanced freedom of speech with safety. Haugen’s time at business school taught her to view the problem differently: Facebook was a company that prioritized growth over the safety of its users. “Organizational structure is a wonky topic, but it matters,” Haugen says. Inside the company, she says, she observed the effect of these repeated interventions on the integrity team. “People make decisions on what projects to work on, or advance, or give more resources to, based on what they believe is the chance for success,” she says. “I think there were many projects that could be content-neutral—that didn’t involve us choosing what are good or bad ideas, but instead are about making the platform safe—that never got greenlit, because if you’ve seen other things like that fail, you don’t even try them.” Being with her parents, particularly her mother, who left a career as a professor to become an Episcopal priest, helped Haugen become comfortable with the idea she might one day have to go public. “I was learning all these horrific things about Facebook, and it was really tearing me up inside,” she says. “The thing that really hurts most whistle-blowers is: whistle-blowers live with secrets that impact the lives of other people. And they feel like they have no way of resolving them. And so instead of being destroyed by learning these things, I got to talk to my mother … If you’re having a crisis of conscience, where you’re trying to figure out a path that you can live with, having someone you can agonize to, over and over again, is the ultimate amenity.” Haugen didn’t decide to blow the whistle until December 2020, by which point she was back in San Francisco. The final straw came when Facebook dissolved Haugen’s former team, civic integrity, whose leader had asked employees to take an oath to put the public good before Facebook’s private interest. (Facebook denies that it dissolved the team, saying instead that members were spread out across the company to amplify its influence.) Haugen and many of her former colleagues felt betrayed. But her mother’s counsel had mentally prepared her. “It meant that when that moment happened, I was actually in a pretty good place,” Haugen says. “I wasn’t in a place of crisis like many whistle-blowers are.” Read More: Why Facebook Employees ‘Deprioritized’ a Misinformation Fix In March, Haugen moved to Puerto Rico, in part for the warm weather, which she says helps with her neuropathy pain. Another factor was the island’s cryptocurrency community, which has burgeoned because of the U.S. territory’s lack of capital gains taxes. In October, she told the New York Times that she had bought into crypto “at the right time,” implying that she had a financial buffer that allowed her to whistle-blow comfortably. Haugen’s detractors have pointed to the irony of her calling for tech companies to do their social duty, while living in a U.S. territory with a high rate of poverty that is increasingly being used as a tax haven. Some have also pointed out that Haugen is not entirely independent: she has received support from Luminate, a philanthropic organization pushing for progressive Big Tech reform in Europe and the U.S., and which is backed by the billionaire founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar. Luminate paid Haugen’s expenses on her trip to Europe and helped organize meetings with senior officials. Omidyar has also donated to Whistleblower Aid, the nonprofit legal organization that is now representing Haugen pro bono. Luminate says it entered into a relationship with Haugen only after she went public with her disclosures. Haugen resigned from Facebook in May this year, after being told by the human-resources team that she could not work remotely from a U.S. territory. The news accelerated the secret project that she had decided to begin after seeing her old team disbanded. To collect the documents she would later disclose, Haugen trawled Facebook’s internal employee forum, Workplace. She traced the careers of integrity colleagues she admired—many of whom had left the company in frustration—gathering slide decks, research briefs and policy proposals they had worked on, as well as other documents she came across. Read more: Facebook Will Not Fix Itself While collecting the documents, she had flashbacks to her teenage years preparing folders of evidence for debates. “I was like, Wow, this is just like debate camp!” she recalls. “When I was 16 and doing that, I had no idea that it would be useful in this way in the future.” Jabin Botsford—Getty ImagesHaugen testifies on Oct. 5 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In her Senate testimony in early October, Haugen suggested a federal agency should be set up to oversee social media algorithms so that “someone like me could do a tour of duty” after working at a company like Facebook. But moving to Washington, D.C., to serve at such an agency has no appeal, she says. “I am happy to be one of the people consulted by that agency,” she says. “But I have a life I really like in Puerto Rico.” Now that her tour of Europe is over, Haugen has had a chance to think about what comes next. Over an encrypted phone call from Puerto Rico a few days after we met in Paris, she says she would like to help build a grassroots movement to help young people push back against the harms caused by social media companies. In this new task, as seems to be the case with everything in Haugen’s life, she wants to try to leverage the power of education. “I am fully aware that a 19-year-old talking to a 16-year-old will be more effective than me talking to that 16-year-old,” she tells me. “There is a real opportunity for young people to flex their political muscles and demand accountability.” I ask if she has a message to send to young people reading this. “Hmm,” she says, followed by a long pause. “In every era, humans invent technologies that run away from themselves,” she says. “It’s very easy to look at some of these tech platforms and feel like they are too big, too abstract and too amorphous to influence in any way. But the reality is there are lots of things we can do. And the reason they haven’t done them is because it makes the companies less profitable. Not unprofitable, just less profitable. And no company has the right to subsidize their profits with your health. Ironically, Haugen gives partial credit to one of her managers at Facebook for inspiring her thought process around blowing the whistle. After struggling with a problem for a week without asking for help, she missed a deadline. When she explained why, the manager told her he was disappointed that she had hidden that she was having difficulty, she says. “He said, ‘We solve problems together; we don’t solve them alone,’” she says. Never one to miss a teaching opportunity, she continues, “Part of why I came forward is I believe Facebook has been struggling alone. They’ve been hiding how much they’re struggling. And the reality is, we solve problems together, we don’t solve them alone.” ShutterstockFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced the company was rebranding as Meta. It’s a philosophy that Haugen sees as the basis for how social media platforms should deal with societal issues going forward. In late October, Facebook Inc. (which owns Facebook, Whats App and Instagram) changed its name to Meta, a nod to its ambition to build the next generation of online experiences. In a late-October speech, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he believed the “Metaverse”—its new proposal to build a virtual universe—would fundamentally reshape how humans interact with technology. Haugen says she is concerned the Metaverse will isolate people rather than bring them together: “I believe any tech with that much influence deserves public oversight.” But hers is also a belief system that allows for a path toward redemption. That friend she lost to misinformation? His story has a happy ending. “I learned later that he met a nice girl and he had gone back to church,” Haugen says, adding that he no longer believes in conspiracy theories. “It gives me a lot of hope that we can recover as individuals and as a society. But it involves us connecting with people.” —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein and Nik Popli.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 22nd, 2021

Meet the Women Leading the Global Fight for Workers’ Rights in the Informal Economy

The pandemic has hit informal workers particularly hard Myrtle Witbooi was just 18-years-old when she convened the first ever meeting of domestic workers in Cape Town, South Africa. It was 1965, during the apartheid years of racial segregation, and Witbooi’s actions carried great risk. “We weren’t supposed to disobey the people we were working for,” Witbooi, now 74, tells TIME in an interview over the phone. “Still today, I can’t tell you how I did it, but I did disobey. I actually fought my way and became a spokesperson for domestic workers”. Domestic workers make up just one part of a global group of 2.1 billion workers who comprise the so-called informal economy, encompassing countless trades, enterprises and work that is not protected or regulated by the state. Informal workers, from garment makers to street vendors, provide the foundation of the global economy, accounting for more than 60% of the global workforce. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Yet, despite the range in geographies, cultures, and trades that the informal economy spans, one thing unites workers within it—they are mostly women. Globally, 58% of women who work are engaged in informal employment, a figure that rises to 92% in developing countries. The pandemic has hit informal workers particularly hard. When many governments responded to the crisis with economic aid, most of these workers were overlooked. According to a study by the International Labour Organization (ILO), twice as many workers in the informal economy fell into poverty during the first month of the pandemic compared to pre-COVID-19 times. In response, philanthropic organization the Ford Foundation has announced a five-year, $25 million grant to women-led informal worker networks, in an effort to support a global movement calling on governments to invest in protections for informal workers. “We know there can be no global recovery without informal workers,” Sarita Gupta, director of the Ford Foundation’s Future of Work(ers) program, said in a statement. “This grant recognizes the importance of ensuring billions of informal workers have a seat at the table to have their voices, demands, and needs heard at the national and global level, so policymakers and business leaders recognize their contribution and value.” Recipients include the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), which represents 600,000 household workers through 84 affiliate organizations, and of which Witbooi is president. Labor-focused scholars have noted that the IDWF is the “first international labor federation run by women for work dominated by women”. Fighting for workers’ rights in the face of sexism According to Jhanavi Dave, international coordinator at HomeNet International, a global network of home-based worker organizations, there are myriad socio-economic factors that motivate women to enter the informal economy. “The biggest issue is they have a lot of care responsibilities,” she tells TIME. “The second is lack of mobility,” mostly due to restrictions imposed by patriarchal societies. “A lot of women are not allowed to work outside their own homes, but there’s also no safe and affordable transportation for women to move out and work in other spaces.” A lack of formal employment opportunities also forces women into alternative forms of work, she says. Despite making significant strides—including securing an international convention to protect domestic workers’ rights at the ILO in 2011—the IDWF has not always been taken seriously. Witbooi says that when she launched the federation without any men involved, the idea was met with skepticism from some men. “I said ‘O.K., fine, let’s leave it there, let us show you what unity is, let us show you the power of women now that we have had enough.’” Now, she says, the IDWF is being recognized for its achievements by former detractors. During the pandemic, Witbooi says, the IDWF had to rapidly adapt to a world of lockdowns and social restrictions. In the past, the federation’s affiliate organizations distributed brochures and pamphlets to other domestic workers in person, meeting them at bus stops and other local meeting places. Now, they use messaging app Whatsapp. “I was very surprised by the way domestic workers took to their phones,” she says. Witbooi has all the provincial groups she works in on different Whatsapp group chats. Every Monday, she sends inspirational messages to her networks. The IDWF has a history of working around problems. Under the apartheid regime, Witbooi and other domestic workers would find ways to communicate whenever they could, gathering on “Sheila’s Day,” the South African term for domestic workers’ weekly day off. (”Sheila” was the catch-all name white employers would often give to the black employees whose names they could not pronounce.) “In my street in the afternoon we would take the children for a walk to the park and that is where we started,” Witbooi says. Read more: The Coronavirus Pandemic’s Outsized Effect on Women’s Mental Health Around the World Another organization set to benefit from the Ford Foundation’s grant is StreetNet International, a global alliance of organizations representing 735,000 street vendors. There is no definitive count of street vendors in the world, but they are integral to urban economies, particularly in developing countries. In Ghana, for example, street vendors and market traders account for 29% of total urban employment. It is another sector that is a greater source of employment for women than men. Lorraine Sibanda, a street vendor and trade unionist from Zimbabwe, is president of StreetNet International. Her election in 2016 made her the first Black and first African leader of the global workers’ network. Sibanda became a street vendor and tradeswoman when her wages as a teacher were insufficient to support her. Confronted with the precarity of the work, where police could confiscate her goods at any minute, she joined trade unions and women’s organizations. “I realized I just enjoyed fighting for my rights as well as the rights of others,” she tells TIME. It was these organizations that equipped Sibanda with the skills of negotiation and collective bargaining, which she says are just as critical in the informal economy as in more traditional workplaces. “When you look at countries such as Zimbabwe,” she says, “our country is almost totally informal. As street vendors, we are constantly engaging the local authorities and all the necessary stakeholders who our work crosses”. Resources such as StreetNet International’s six-book toolkit support leaders of each of the groups in the network to organize workers and strengthen their collective voice. The onset of the pandemic demonstrated how integral street vendors are to local economies. “As street vendors, we bring affordable food to their doorsteps,” says Sibanda. “We do the travelling and bring the food.” When these street vendors were absent from their work stations, whole communities were affected. While the grant funding is a good start, Sibanda hopes that governments’ economic recovery plans include informal workers as the world begins to open up. “We do not need austerity from governments,” she says. “What we need from governments is further protection.” Unions supporting communities At the height of the pandemic, it was informal workers’ unions that stepped in when authorities were failing some of the poorest members of society. Dave of HomeNet International says that home-based workers—who produce goods or services in or near their homes for local, domestic or global markets—were severely affected by restrictions on mobility and disruption to commercial supply chains. Almost two-third of home-based workers—mostly women—are based in Asia and the Pacific region. Lockdowns and restrictions on movement to prevent the spread of COVID-19 often had a disproportionate impact on those living in poverty. During the lockdown in India, Dave says, people living in Mumbai’s Dharavi—one of the largest slums in Asia—were confined to their cramped living quarters with no access to the shared toilets they typically relied on. Police had cordoned off the slum to ensure nobody stepped outside their homes. “This is when a local workers’ union, LEARN, decided to build human barricades to push back the police,” Dave says. “They said this is absolutely inhumane if we can’t even access toilets.” Union leaders came up with alternative ways to socially distance while accessing facilities, such as food ration stations, and they worked with police to carry out welfare checks on women home-based workers. HomeNet International observed that, when home-based workers were organised, even if it was a trade union or a cooperative, they had better access to food than those who were not. “Last year,” Dave says, “we actually saw an increase in membership of unions because home-based workers saw the benefits of joining some form of organization.” Boosted by the Ford Foundation’s grant funding, which will be distributed by non-profit Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), many of the recipients will be heading to the ILO’s annual labor conference later this month. There, the IDWF, HomeNet International, and StreetNet International will lobby for greater forms of social protection, inclusive economic recovery plans, and greater transparency for women workers in the informal economy. Despite the many challenges ahead, Sibana and Witbooi say they are excited to extend the services and reach of their organizations to those in need. “For me, working with these women is a reminder of where I’ve been and where I am now,” says Witbooi, who draws on her experience as a domestic worker to inspire the women she works with. “If I can reach from apartheid and free myself from there and today I’m still standing tall, they know they can too,” she says. “They can demand respect and say, ‘I’m a domestic worker, I’m a mother, I’m a wife, and my work should be valued.’”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 17th, 2021

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said employers need to "stop asking why there is a labor shortage" and "start asking how we can make jobs better"

Workers want better working conditions, pay, and benefits, Wolf said. "That's not really asking a lot." Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. Mark Makela/Getty Images Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said workers demanding better pay and benefits are "not really asking a lot." Wolf recently signed an executive order aimed at improving labor conditions in the state. Workers need better protections to entice them back to work after the pandemic, he said. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has said that businesses need to "stop asking why there is a labor shortage" and "start asking how we can make jobs better."Wolf told elected officials and labor leaders in Allentown on Thursday that workers were looking for jobs with better working conditions, pay, and benefits, per The Morning Call - and "that's not really asking a lot."The US is suffering from a huge labor shortage because of mismatches between what workers want and what employers are offering.Some business owners and lawmakers have blamed the labor shortage on workers, saying that "no one wants to work anymore." Some have attributed it to the supplemental employment benefits introduced during the pandemic, but businesses say they're still having problems finding staff two months after the benefits were cut off."There are so many job openings that people are choosing the best option for their family," Wolf said Thursday. "It's time we stop asking why there is a labor shortage and start asking how we can make jobs better."Under an executive order Wolf signed on October 21, the state's labor department will post on its website a list of bad actors that violate labor laws, misclassify their workers, or fail to carry requisite workers' compensation insurance.The order also included other clauses related to paid sick leave and compliance with safety standards. Wolf is also seeking to raise the state's minimum wage."It's time for us to bring worker protections and supports into the 21st century in the United States, and certainly here in Pennsylvania," Wolf said Thursday, per The Morning Call. "And that's how we support workers, that's how we entice them back to work after this pandemic."Employment in Pennsylvania was 5.89 million in September, per preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from 6.53 million in February 2020. The state's labor participation rate - the percentage of adults working or actively seeking employment - fell from 60.3% to 57.3% over the same time period.Businesses across Pennsylvania say they're struggling to hire. Joseph Devor, who owns Joey's Chicken Shack near Harrisburg, previously told Insider that he'd had to rely on family members after his workforce fell to just four. Devor raised wages, cut the restaurant's opening hours, and hiked up menu prices as a result.People have used the pandemic to evaluate what they want from work, and many have changed industries, opted for roles with more flexible schedules or with fewer hours. Others have returned to education, or taken early retirement.Workers now have more power in the job market and, as a result, companies have been hiking up wages and offering improved benefits to attract them."The American working class is demanding fair pay, paid time off and safe working conditions," Jennifer Berrier, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry said Thursday."If we want a robust economy driven by the American worker, we must earn back their confidence and offer more than a meager paycheck," she added. "And that's why this isn't really a labor shortage at all - what we're actually seeing is a shortage of jobs that afford workers a future out of poverty."Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-lastRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 5th, 2021

The ‘Great Resignation’ Is Finally Getting Companies to Take Burnout Seriously. Is It Enough?

Toward the end of last year, Anthony Klotz, a professor of business administration at Texas A&M University who studies workplace resignations, realized that a lot of people were about to quit their jobs. A record 42.1 million Americans quit a job in 2019, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, but that rate dropped… Toward the end of last year, Anthony Klotz, a professor of business administration at Texas A&M University who studies workplace resignations, realized that a lot of people were about to quit their jobs. A record 42.1 million Americans quit a job in 2019, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, but that rate dropped off during the pandemic-addled year of 2020. As 2021 approached, bringing with it the promise of effective vaccines and a return to semi-normal life, Klotz guessed that two things would happen. First, many of the people who wanted to quit in 2020 but held off due to fear or uncertainty would finally feel secure enough to do so. And second, pandemic-era epiphanies, exhaustion and burnout would drive a whole new cohort of people to quit their jobs. In a moment of inspiration, Klotz predicted that a “Great Resignation” was coming. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] It’s safe to say it’s here. Every month from April to August 2021, at least 2.5% of the American workforce quit their jobs. In August alone, more than 4.2 million people handed in their two weeks’ notice, according to federal statistics. So far, 2021 quit levels are about 10% to 15% higher than they were in record-setting 2019, by Klotz’s calculations. Read more: Why Literally Millions of Americans Are Quitting Their Jobs Companies are clearly taking notice, particularly given the staffing shortages that are hamstringing many customer-facing industries and slowing the supply chain. “Just keeping people from quitting is not necessarily a good business strategy,” Klotz says. Increasingly, businesses are trying something more ambitious: actually making their workers happy. For many, that means targeting burnout, a cocktail of work-related stress, exhaustion, cynicism and negativity that is surging during the pandemic. Forty-two percent of U.S. women and 35% of U.S. men said they feel burned out often or almost always in 2021, according to a recent McKinsey & Co. report. For a long time, burnout was seen as the worker’s problem—something they needed to fix with self-care and yoga and sleep if they were going to make it in the rat race of life. There are dozens of studies and even more articles focused on curing burnout from the employee perspective. Mindfulness and meditation can help. Finding social support can help. Tailoring your job to align with your interests and values can help. But according to Christina Maslach, a social psychologist who is the U.S.’ preeminent burnout expert and co-creator of the most commonly used tool for assessing worker burnout, none of these strategies will ever be successful if they place all the onus on the worker. “Nobody is really pointing to the problem, which is that chronic job stresses have not been well managed” by employers, she says. Now, with so many people turning in resignation letters, businesses are starting to get with the program. “There’s mass attrition and it’s very expensive for employers to keep up with the amount of people who are leaving,” says workplace well-being expert Jennifer Moss, author of the recent book The Burnout Epidemic. “Because it’s now a bottom-line issue, more organizations are jumping on board.” For example: tech companies including Bumble, LinkedIn and Hootsuite closed for a week this year to give people a break and combat burnout. Fidelity Investments is piloting a program in which some employees work 30 hours a week, taking a small pay cut but keeping their full benefits. Highwire public relations, which has offices in several major U.S. cities, aimed to eliminate 30% of its meetings to give employees ample time away from Zoom, ideally translating to shorter and more efficient work days. Other employers have implemented programs meant to foster empathy, in hopes of making employees feel appreciated. But as with so many corporate initiatives—and it’s worth noting that these are mostly geared towards office-based workers, though burnout certainly exists among blue-collar workers, too—it’s hard not to feel at least a little skeptical. Can canceling a few Zoom meetings and giving people an extra week of vacation really cure a bone-deep malaise? At its core, burnout is what happens when “chronic job stressors have not been well managed,” Maslach explains. But it’s more complicated than simply feeling stressed-out or overextended. Someone suffering from burnout also has a “negative, hostile, cynical, ‘take-this-job-and-shove-it’ kind of attitude” and negative feelings about their own work and choices, Maslach says. A lawyer who becomes disillusioned with her career and begins to question why she ever went to law school at all might qualify, whereas a psychiatrist who loves but is exhausted by her job probably wouldn’t. Importantly, burnout is not a medical diagnosis or a mental health condition—instead, the World Health Organization classifies it as an “occupational phenomenon.” But studies show that it can overlap with physical and mental health issues, including depression, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems and headaches. It can even be a predictor of chronic diseases including heart disease and type 2 diabetes, research shows. Burnout is particularly common (and well-studied) among medical professionals. As of September 2020, 76% of U.S. health care workers reported exhaustion and burnout, according to the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation (NIHCM). Even before the pandemic, between 35% and 54% of U.S. doctors and nurses reported symptoms of burnout, NIHCM says. But any person, in any profession, can experience burnout, and right now, people are reporting it in droves. Read more: Physician Burnout Costs the U.S. Billions of Dollars Each Year Work stress didn’t magically appear for the first time during the pandemic, but “there wasn’t this huge other factor looming above everyone’s head” before COVID-19 hit, says Malissa Clark, who studies employee well-being at the University of Georgia. Uncertainty can feed into burnout, she says, as can blurring the boundaries between work and home life or struggling to parent and homeschool children on top of working. In other words, the pandemic has been a “perfect storm” for burnout. For some people in a position to do so, the answer to that problem has been to quit. In a pre-pandemic Deloitte study on burnout, 42% of U.S. respondents said they had left a job specifically because of burnout—which means organizations have a clear motivation to finally take the problem seriously. There’s no one-size-fits-all burnout cure, but Maslach’s research suggests there are six key areas on which businesses should focus: creating manageable workloads giving employees control over their jobs, to the extent possible rewarding and acknowledging good work, either financially or verbally fostering community treating workers fairly and equitably helping workers find value in their work To figure out where to start, companies should ask their employees, Maslach says. Bosses often can’t see problems that exist under their noses, and they never will if they don’t ask. In a 2020 survey from PwC, 81% of surveyed executives said their company had successfully expanded childcare benefits during the pandemic, but only 45% of office workers (who did not necessarily work under the surveyed executives) said their company had done enough to support working parents. Executives were also far more likely to say their companies were supporting their employees’ mental health than were lower-level employees. Boston-based sales and marketing company HubSpot took on an anti-burnout initiative this year, in part because quarterly employee surveys began to show that the ongoing “ambiguity and uncertainty” of the pandemic were getting to people in a major way, says chief people officer Katie Burke. The company announced an annual “week of rest” for the entire staff, so that everyone could take a break without coming back to a mountain of emails; eliminated internal meetings on Fridays; offered trainings for managers who want to better support their teams; and offered resilience workshops to all staff members. On a systemic level, Burke says the company is “taking a look at the things that cause the most stress for people” and trying to develop solutions, like standardizing workloads year round (rather than having busy versus light seasons), automating certain tasks, pushing back deadlines on non-urgent products and helping people figure out how much they can feasibly accomplish in a given timeframe. “We are seeing [the results] in how happy and engaged our employees are, and honestly, just in the anecdotal feedback we’re hearing from people,” Burke says. But even that effort, which is fairly ambitious relative to other workplaces, hasn’t been enough for everyone. Writing on Blind, an anonymous messaging app for people who work in the tech industry, one unnamed HubSpot employee called the week of rest “a hollow gesture without addressing the root cause of burnout in the company.” On LinkedIn, other commenters called it “a Band-Aid.” Maslach agrees that time off alone can’t fix the problem. “If the best thing you can do for your employees is to tell them not to come to work,” she says, “what is wrong with the work?” A better way to ensure lasting change, in Moss’ opinion, is for managers to ask their employees three questions every week: “How are you?” “What are the highs and lows of this week?” And, “What can I do to make next week easier?” If bosses consistently ask those questions and actually work to solve the problems that come to light, Moss says it would go a long way. Most people don’t want “a million dollars,” she says. “It’s probably going to be, ‘Can we delegate some of this work or push this deadline off’…or, ‘I want permission to not have a full day of Zoom meetings next week.’” For people who work in jobs that typically are less flexible, like food service or retail, managers could ask for input about how schedules are made and communicated, or make it easier for people to ask for time off, Klotz says. Even something as simple as allowing people to choose when they take their breaks can make a difference. Of course, there are limits to how much an individual manager can do, particularly if their organization refuses to hire enough people or pay their existing employees fairly. (Some workers are tackling such systemic problems by unionizing or going on strike.) In the end, Moss says, the changes have to come from the top down and permeate every aspect of workplace culture. If and until that happens, Maslach says quitting will sometimes be the best option, at least for people who can afford to do so. There’s no guarantee that the next job will be better, nor that an individual’s relationship to work will change with a new position. But if a company isn’t willing to actually solve the burnout problem at its source, Maslach says employees can’t be expected to muscle through. For those who can’t or don’t want to quit, though, the Great Resignation may hold promise of another sort. Actually getting managers to listen to and solve problems might seem like a pipe dream, but Klotz says this is a perfect time for employees to test their bosses’ limits, given growing anxiety about the number of people who are resigning. If you lay your cards on the table and ask for what you want—different hours, fewer meetings, shifted responsibilities—you may end up in a better situation without going through the disruptive process of leaving and finding a new job, he says. “Why not use the leverage you have,” he says, “to turn the job you have into the job you want?”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 14th, 2021

A podcast for retail workers is calling out the "soul-defeating" industry for harsh management, abusive customers, and poverty wages

There were 11.4 million retail, food service, and cashier jobs in the US last year. "That's a lot of people getting stomped on," Steve Rowland said. iStock; Skye Gould/Insider Retail Warzone is a new podcast that focuses on the plight of retail workers. Co-host Steve Rowland was a longtime retail manager who got laid off during the pandemic. He is now focused on shining a light on industry "horror stories." See more stories on Insider's business page. At the returns desk of a home decór store, a woman brought in flower pot writhing with gray maggots in its base. She was furious when an employee said the store would be unable to process the return, given the larvae-infested state of the product.Steve Rowland, a manager, watched back footage of the exchange like game tape, wondering where the employee went wrong. The customer, who eventually called up the corporate office, hadn't followed the simple instructions to drill drainage holes in the pot. Still, Rowland was told by a district manager to reprimand the employee for the interaction, despite the fact he'd followed the company's guidelines. The customer eventually received a full refund and an additional $50 store credit.For Rowland and his staff, it was just another morale-deadening example of management siding against employees who were just following company rules.After 33 years in retail, Rowland was laid off from his job due to COVID-19. So in February 2021, he did what many others have done: He started a podcast. "Retail Warzone" is hosted by Rowland and Alex Rowland (no relation). The podcast showcases workers' "horror stories" each week and advocates for pro-worker changes within the sector."Retail in general is very soul-defeating," Rowland told Insider. "It breaks your spirit after a certain amount of time."And the state of retail jobs affects a large swath of the labor force. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 there were about 4 million retail sales jobs, 3.4 million cashier gigs, and 4.4 million food server posts in the United States."That's a lot of people getting stomped on," Rowland said.The pandemic has shone a light on the plight of many service workers. Retail workers have contended with workplace violence, often at the hands of enraged shoppers convinced that "the customer is always right." Rage-quitting and ghosting have become common practices, as a result of these conditions. Many work for low pay, as the federal minimum wage hasn't risen from $7.25 since 2009 and has failed to keep up with housing costs and productivity. Outsiders levy criticisms about retail workers being lazy, due to the labor shortage. When he started out in retail in 1988, Rowland said customers would still cross a store to put back items that they decided against purchasing. Over the years, he felt himself watching "the wheels come off the wagon" as "society basically devolved in real time." Rowland said he blames retailers valuing "profits over people" and rewarding bad behavior from shoppers."Customers have become more entitled, more emboldened to treat retail employees, hospitality employees, and grocery employees like servants," he said. "You're not paid enough to be a punching bag for the customer. But corporations are willing to sacrifice the mental health and safety of an employee for avoiding getting a bad review on Facebook or Amazon."According to Rowland, the result for workers is burnout and depression, on top of issues like low pay, poor benefits, and a lack of professional stability. The podcast host said that, thanks to the hiring crunch, "the workforce has more power right now than they ever have in the history of the retail industry." Still, he's upset by the lack of appreciation that frontline workers have received during the pandemic, even after being declared "essential.""Retail workers got a little bit of a break in 2020 from the abuse," Rowland said. "But as soon as we turned the corner into 2021, everybody forgot that and the treatment got worse."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 9th, 2021

Inside the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Tomorrow’s Business Leaders

Tima Bansal begins every new course with a cautionary statistic for her business school students. A 2008 study found that MBA candidates enter business school with more community-oriented values, but graduate with more selfish ones. “They come in caring about the world, and they leave caring more about themselves. Why?” she says. Bansal, a professor… Tima Bansal begins every new course with a cautionary statistic for her business school students. A 2008 study found that MBA candidates enter business school with more community-oriented values, but graduate with more selfish ones. “They come in caring about the world, and they leave caring more about themselves. Why?” she says. Bansal, a professor at Ivey Business School in London, Ontario, thinks she knows the answer. “At the heart of every single course that we teach is this orientation toward profit or leadership or themselves,” says Bansal, one of a growing number of academics who want to change that. MBA programs, they say, can no longer justify teaching future business leaders to maximize profits at the expense of the planet. The way Bansal and others see it, the world would be a better place if more businesses played an active role in tackling social and environmental challenges, from climate change to global poverty. And if the leadership ranks of major companies don’t adjust the way they do business, they warn, their fixation on making money and rewarding shareholders will exacerbate inequality and climate disasters. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “We have a crisis on our hands, and business schools need to act,” Bansal says. “We have a crisis on our hands, and business schools need to act.”The world’s major corporations stand at a crossroads. Many Boomer and Generation X executives have grudgingly come to the realization in recent years that they can no longer straddle the fence or remain silent on thorny social and political issues. To attract and retain the best and brightest Millennial and Gen Z employees, companies are facing pressure to express their opinions and take action on critical matters, including racial injustice, climate change and income inequality. A majority of college students (68%) say companies should take public stances on social issues. Another 16% said they wouldn’t work for a company that did not, according to a recent Axios/Generation Lab poll. Another survey, by Washington State University’s Carson College of Business, found that 70% of Gen Z employees want to work for a company whose values align with their own, and 83% want to work for a company that has a positive impact on the world. Courtesy Tima BansalTima Bansal, a professor at the Ivey Business School in London, Ontario. That demand is reflected in the young people seeking business graduate degrees. At Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, the number of students in the Social Impact MBA program has nearly doubled in the last decade, growing from 79 in 2011 to 155 in 2021. Since leaders at the University of Vermont ripped up the 1970s-era MBA format and redesigned it around sustainability—the term used to describe businesses that are environmentally and socially conscious—the program has grown from 20 students in 2014 to 47 in 2021. They’re considering expanding the program to 70 or 80 students after receiving a record number of applications last year. Companies are also facing pressure from consumers who increasingly want to buy eco-friendly, ethical products from businesses that share their values. Nearly 80% of consumers say it’s important that brands are sustainable and environmentally responsible, according to a 2020 study by IBM and the National Retail Federation, which polled consumers in 28 countries. A majority (57%) of those consumers say they’re willing to change their shopping habits in order to reduce the negative impact on the environment. For the first time this semester, Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco offered MBA students an eight-week elective course on promoting anti-racism in the workforce, adding to courses on leading inclusive organizations, prioritizing social justice in supply chains and exploring renewable energy systems. Liz Leiba—an adjunct professor teaching the course, which covers the advantages and challenges of building a diverse workplace and how to identify discrimination and bias—thinks it should be required for all students. “Diversity sometimes has been an afterthought,” she says. “Marketing is not an afterthought. Sales is not an afterthought.” Read more: What Happened When Facebook Shut Down the Team That Put People Ahead of Profits The movement amounts to a fight for the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s business leaders by changing how MBA students are educated. “Can we possibly justify teaching students to go out and profit their investors by depleting society and the rest of the planet?’ It’s just not a viable ethical position,” says Tom Lyon, faculty director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. But change has been slow. Universities are large, traditional institutions that tend to stick with what they know, and many major business schools have not overhauled tried-and-true programs, instead offering one-off courses on sustainability or ethics. “We can’t do business as usual. We have to do new business.”Maggie Winslow, the academic dean at Presidio, which aims to include sustainability and social justice in every business course, says when she offered to help the dean of another business school start a sustainability curriculum, she was told “that’s just a fad.” Lyon has struggled to get concepts such as sustainability and corporate political responsibility fully integrated into the core curriculum and notes that there hasn’t been a critical mass of students or donors demanding that change. “It’s like the MBA core is the inner sanctum of the religion of business schools. And every area feels like, ‘I have my sacred concepts I must teach, and I cannot make room for these sort of nice, but superfluous ideas,’” Lyon says. And many of the business schools that have been leading the charge on this front are not among the country’s top-ranked MBA programs, suggesting that the most competitive business schools are hesitant to disrupt a time-tested curriculum. But as the world experiences the devastating effects of climate change and the country confronts centuries of racial injustice, many professors argue that change has never been more urgent. “It’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of moment,” Lyon says. “We’re close to a point of turning the planet into a place that is much less inhabitable than it’s been for the last millennium.” ‘A 50-year-old paradigm’ Dartmouth founded the first graduate school of management in 1900 with the Tuck School of Business, and Harvard launched the world’s first MBA program in 1908. The MBA has since grown to be the most popular postgraduate degree in the country, making up 24% of all master’s degrees earned in the 2018-19 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But the world has changed dramatically since the MBA first became a rite of passage for business leaders, raising questions about whether courses in marketing, microeconomics and finance are a sufficient foundation for business leadership. MBA applications surged as the pandemic caused economic challenges and mass unemployment, but business schools had been contending with several years of declining applications before that. “Business schools are still operating out of a 50-year-old paradigm. And I think that’s the fundamental problem,” Lyon says. “All the businessman had to do was just maximize profits, play within the rules, and everything was fine. And the problem is, our rules need to be changed. The system isn’t really working anymore.” Climate change is expected to cost the global economy as much as $23 trillion by 2050, according to a 2021 report by the insurance company Swiss Re. And a reckoning over racial injustice has intensified calls for corporations to do more to promote equity and and diversity. Courtesy Alyssa Gutner-DavisAlyssa Gutner-Davis, a student at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. “My impression was if you go to business school, you’re only focused on the economics.”Alyssa Gutner-Davis, a second-year student at Questrom, says if you had told her in college that she’d one day go to business school, she would have laughed. “My impression was if you go to business school, you’re only focused on the economics and do the economics pencil out, and there’s no room for thinking through any other considerations,” says Gutner-Davis, 31. But she enrolled in Questrom’s Social Impact MBA program—which includes courses on impact investing, discrimination in the workplace and environmentally sustainable supply chains— because she wanted to understand business basics in order to pursue her interests in environmental justice and clean energy. The demand is coming from corporations too. In June, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it would invest $12 billion over five years to create 100,000 new jobs, many with an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) focus. Read more: Wildfires Are Getting Worse, So Why Is the U.S. Still Using Wood to Build Homes? “Student demand is increasing. You can see employers are seeking graduates with these skills and knowledge. There’s demand from society for business schools to positively contribute to tackling some of these grand societal challenges,” says Caroline Flammer, co-faculty director of Questrom’s social impact program. She teaches a course called Social Impact: Business, Society, and the Natural Environment, which she thinks should be required for any MBA student. “In my view, the Social Impact MBA program should be the MBA program.” “Student demand is increasing. You can see employers are seeking graduates with these skills and knowledge.” At Michigan, Lyon teaches a course on the economics of sustainability to undergraduates and a course on energy markets and energy politics to graduate students. He’s working on building a task force on corporate political responsibility, aiming to confront the way companies too often “focus on their own short term profits at the expense of the larger society.” He would like to see the concepts of ethics, sustainability and political responsibility fully integrated throughout all MBA courses, not just tacked on as a single course. Dan WatkinsCaroline Flammer of Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. That’s how Sanjay Sharma, dean of the University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business, redesigned the school’s MBA program, with sustainability embedded in every subject. Students learn about impact investing, carbon pricing and analyzing social and environmental risks. They explore all case studies through a lens of environmental and social justice impacts. Sustainability has been part of the core curriculum at Ivey, in Ontario, since 2003. When Bansal first began integrating business sustainability into strategy, finance and marketing courses—teaching students to take a long-term view and to consider social and environmental impacts in business decisions—she confronted the perception that environmental issues didn’t belong in business education. Now, she hears from students who say they “desperately need more” of these classes. She thinks MBA programs need to do a better job of preparing students to solve today’s global challenges. “You have to have corporations that build products that solve not just their own profits, but products that actually make the world better,” she says. “That requires a different type of thinking.” ‘Business moves faster than academia’ Sharma knows that MBA programs like his, built entirely around sustainability, are still niche. Top-ranked business schools with powerful brands don’t seem eager to upend successful programs that are still attracting thousands of applicants willing to spend as much as $200,000 for their degrees and producing highly employable graduates. “Business moves faster than academia,” Sharma says. but he thinks all business schools will be forced to adapt eventually. “If organizations demand it and if society demands it, then it’ll start happening faster.” He and his peers are confronting a lingering stigma that courses on sustainability or social justice are nice, but not essential. “I wish I could say the vast majority of Ross students were beating down the doors for ethics and sustainability. And, you know, they’re not,” Lyon says. “The real drivers are student demand and donors. So if students start saying, ‘We have to have this material,’ schools will change.” For university leaders, there’s nothing simple about revamping decades-old curricula or persuading tenured faculty to change their courses. But the global realities of climate instability and resource shortages could force their hand. “If you only plan to be in business for five years, maybe you don’t want to think about it. But if you want to be in business for 50 years, then we all have to think about this,” says Winslow, the Presidio dean. “We can’t do business as usual. We have to do new business.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 8th, 2021

Biden"s proposed tax credits for solar power may only benefit high-income households in practice - here"s why

The plan includes $350 billion in policy incentives, but a law and engineering professor says this will really only help people with high tax bills. President Biden's proposal aims to have almost half of the nation's electricity derived from solar energy by 2050. anatoliy_gleb/Getty Images President Biden's plan increase to solar power usage in the US includes $350 billion in tax incentives. Law professor Feliz Mormann says only people with high tax bills will really benefit from the breaks. Higher income households will also contribute more for the solar push through federal income taxes. See more stories on Insider's business page. Electricity generation produces a quarter of US greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change. The electric grid also is highly vulnerable to climate change effects, such as more frequent and severe droughts, hurricanes. and other extreme weather events.For both of these reasons, the power sector is central to the Biden administration's climate policy.President Joe Biden's proposal to produce 45% of the nation's electricity from solar energy by 2050 seeks to transform the power sector from problem child into child prodigy. As the details evolve, two cornerstones have emerged.First, Biden has repeatedly called for extending tax credits for solar power and other renewables, at a projected cost of $200 billion over the next decade. Second, his administration has proposed a Clean Electricity Performance Program to subsidize electric utilities that increase the share of solar in their sales. This initiative is budgeted at $150 billion.Reduced emissions and cleaner air help everyone, but who ultimately pays for public spending on this scale, and who will reap the economic benefits?I have studied renewable energy for years, including the allocation of clean energy policies' costs and benefits. My research focuses on direct economic benefits, such as government subsidies and tax breaks.By proposing $350 billion in policy incentives, Biden is pushing solar further into the mainstream than ever before. Most of the costs and benefits of this massive solar play are distributed fairly, but I see room for improvement.A break for lower-income householdsMany clean energy policies, including renewable portfolio standards and net metering programs - strategies that dozens of states have adopted - pass their costs onto electricity customers. Renewable portfolio standards require utilities to source a certain share of their power sales from renewable sources. Net metering requires them to credit customers for generating electricity at home, typically from solar power, and feeding it back into the grid. In both cases, power companies bill their customers for associated costs.It may seem sensible to ask electricity customers to pay for new resources, but rising electricity rates impose heavier burdens on lower-income households. Already, one-third of US households struggle with energy poverty, spending disproportionately large shares of their income on basic energy needs. The Biden administration avoids such inequities by using tax dollars to fund its solar push.Many low-income households contribute to federal tax revenue via payroll taxes, but most do not pay federal income tax. This largely leaves higher-income households to fill the federal tax coffers that finance solar incentives, which reduces the risk of widening the income and wealth gap.A tenfold increase in solar power's contribution to the US electricity supply would require significant upgrades to the grid. But not all of these upgrades would be covered by incentives funded with tax dollars, so some would fall to ratepayers. To minimize burdens on lower-income households, the Clean Electricity Performance Program earmarks some of its incentives for electric utilities to help struggling electricity customers pay their power bills.Direct economic benefits are less widely sharedWhile Biden's proposed solar policies spread costs broadly across US taxpayers, they allocate direct economic benefits more narrowly. The Clean Electricity Performance Program specifically targets electric utilities that sell power to homes, businesses, and other end users.Under the economic plan that Congress is now considering, utilities that grow the share of clean energy in their retail sales by a specified amount compared to the previous year would receive payments based on the amount of clean electricity they add. Utilities that fail to meet the growth target would pay penalties based on how far they fall short.Electric utilities own many of the country's existing, mostly fossil-fueled power plants. Most have been reluctant to promote solar, which would reduce demand for electricity from their own power plants.But the Clean Electricity Performance Program does not cover another category of power company, called non-utility generators. Instead of selling power to end-use customers, these companies sell electricity to utilities, marketers, or brokers. Non-utility generators provide over 40% of US power and have driven much of the recent deployment in solar and other renewables.Non-utility generators may benefit indirectly if utilities buy solar power from them to comply with the Clean Electricity Performance Program. But by focusing on utilities, the program threatens to alienate non-utility generators and stifle competition.In contrast, tax credits for solar appear to offer economic benefits for a wide swath of taxpayers. In theory, anyone installing a new solar array on their rooftop or elsewhere earns tax credits for a portion of their investment. But I have found that, in practice, only those with higher tax bills can readily profit from these tax breaks.Tax credits don't normally have cash value - they merely reduce the amount you owe to Uncle Sam on April 15. A typical homeowner's tax bill in the hundreds to low thousands of dollars is easily reduced to zero using part of the solar tax credit. But the remaining credit value will go unused, at least until subsequent tax years.Since the tax code prohibits "selling" one's tax credits, third-party financiers offer ways to structure solar projects so that the financier's higher tax bill is used to monetize tax credits, passing part of the value onto homeowners. But such help comes at a price, diverting a significant portion of these tax incentives away from their intended use and beneficiaries.How to retarget solar policiesA large-scale expansion of solar power would be an important step toward a low-carbon economy, with huge environmental benefits. A few tweaks could help make the Biden administration's proposal more efficient and spread its benefits more widely.As former President Barack Obama suggested in his 2016 budget proposal, solar tax credits should have a refundable cash value, like the child tax credit, that converts to cash if the recipients don't owe enough taxes to use the credit. Lower-income households who install solar or buy into community solar projects could use this cash value to take immediate advantage of the credits, regardless of their tax bills.Expanding the Clean Electricity Performance Program to bring non-utility generators into the fold would foster competition among power producers to help further reduce the cost of solar. Finally, since environmental justice is a central theme of Biden's climate policy, it would make sense to add place-based incentives to the solar tax credit provisions that direct clean energy investment toward historically disadvantaged communities to make up for previous environmental injustices.Felix Mormann, professor of law, Texas A&M University Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 8th, 2021

5 things business leaders should know about career education in NM

Local businesses must help prepare the future workforce, and can reap big benefits by doing so, experts said......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsApr 4th, 2019

Why Should You Hold PRA Group (PRAA) in Your Portfolio?

Banking on a solid portfolio and rising cash collections, PRA Group (PRAA) holds enough potential to reap benefits for investors. PRA Group, Inc. PRAA is in investors’ good books owing to its strong European cash collections, a diversified footprint and robust portfolio. PRAA has also been gaining from increasing consumer spend and solid volumes for a while. This financial transaction services provider’s receivable income is another highlight.Headquartered in Norfolk, VA, and incorporated in Delaware, PRA Group witnessed robust purchase volumes in 2019 and 2020. The trend continues this year with PRAA enjoying meaty volumes.PRAA boasts an impressive surprise record, beating on earnings in three of the trailing four quarters (while missing the mark in one), the average beat being 32.13%.Let’s analyze the factors that make this currently Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock a compelling choice for investors right now. You can see  the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.The miscellaneous financial services provider’s receivable income has been rising since 2009 (except in 2016). Its total revenues increased 4.8% in 2020 and 6% in the first nine months of 2021, both on a year-over-year basis. PRAA’s strong capital position makes it optimistic about a projected rise in purchasing volume next year.PRAA’s cash collection increased over many quarters owing to Europe Core and Europe Insolvency. The metric rose 4.2% year over year in the first nine months of 2021. We expect the momentum to continue on the back of volume of purchases in the United States that will increase later in 2021 or early 2022.PRA Group also ventured into government collections and audit services.PRAA’s acquisition of eGov Systems in 2016 to consolidate government business as well as its alliances with the Internal Revenue Service and Banco Bradesco S.A. are some of its notable initiatives. In March 2019, PRAA purchased the holding company of Resurgent Holdings LLC's Canadian business to create an advanced nonperforming loan business in Canada.In 2020 and during the first nine months of 2021, PRA Group spent $905.1 million and $770.5 million, respectively, on portfolio acquisitions.PRAA has a strong capital position with $1.4 billion available for portfolio investment at the end of the third quarter of 2021.Despite the current economic volatility, this financial services player has continued its capital-deployment activities. In the third quarter, it repurchased shares worth $74 million. The board of directors recently approved its share buyback plan by an additional $80 million. PRAA’s disciplined capital management helped instill investors’ confidence in the stock.However, PRA Group has been grappling with escalating expenses over the past many years, which remains a concern.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for PRAA’s 2021 earnings indicates an improvement of 19.63% from the year-ago reported figure.In the past six months, shares of PRAA have gained 12.3% against its industry's fall of 2%. Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchStocks to ConsiderSome better-ranked stocks in the same space are  Credit Acceptance Corporation  CACC,  HoulihanLokey, Inc.  HLI and  Virtu Financial, Inc. VIRT. While HoulihanLokey sports a Zacks Rank #1, Credit Acceptance and Virtu Financial hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy at present).Headquartered in Southfield, MI, Credit Acceptance Corporation is a credit services company. CACC managed to deliver a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 38.86%, on average.Houlihan Lokey is an investment bank focusing on mergers and acquisitions, financings, financial restructurings and financial advisory services. HLI’s earnings managed to beat estimates in all the trailing four quarters, the average being 39.53%.Headquartered in New York, NY, Virtu Financial is a market-leading financial services firm that leverages cutting-edge technology to provide execution services and data, analytics and connectivity products to its clients and deliver liquidity to the global markets. VIRT came up with a trailing four-quarter surprise of 25.34%, on average.Shares of Credit Acceptance Corporation, Houlihan Lokey and Virtu Financial have gained 98.7%, 56.6% and 18.9%, respectively, in the past six months. Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $2.4 trillion by 2028 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases. Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Recommendations from previous editions of this report have produced gains of +205%, +258% and +477%. The stocks in this report could perform even better.See these 7 breakthrough stocks now>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report PRA Group, Inc. (PRAA): Free Stock Analysis Report Credit Acceptance Corporation (CACC): Free Stock Analysis Report Virtu Financial, Inc. (VIRT): Free Stock Analysis Report Houlihan Lokey, Inc. (HLI): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacks3 hr. 38 min. ago

Taylor Wimpey CEO Steps Down

Taylor Wimpey plc (LON:TW) CEO Pete Redfern has announced plans to step down. He will remain in the role until a replacement has been found and the handover process is complete. No one has been named for the position as yet. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Redfern said, “The business is in […] Taylor Wimpey plc (LON:TW) CEO Pete Redfern has announced plans to step down. He will remain in the role until a replacement has been found and the handover process is complete. No one has been named for the position as yet. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Icahn eBook! Get our entire 10-part series on Carl Icahn and other famous investors in PDF for free! Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet or print it! Sign up below. NO SPAM EVER (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Redfern said, “The business is in excellent health and is well positioned for strong future growth. Accordingly, I am confident that now is the right time for fresh leadership as Taylor Wimpey starts the next chapter.” The shares were broadly flat following the announcement. Taylor Wimpey CEO Stepping Down Laura Hoy, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown: “News that Pete Redfern is stepping down from the helm at Taylor Wimpey comes as the UK’s housebuilders turn a corner following a rollercoaster 18 months due the pandemic. Under Redfern’s leadership, Taylor Wimpey took a more aggressive position than most of its peers, taking advantage of the uncertainty with a land buying spree. This has put the group in a strong position if the housing market remains robust, and Redfern’s successor will reap the benefits of this bold move. But a new CEO could also inherit a host of problems if the housing market doesn’t hold up. For now, rising house prices have offset rising input costs, but at some point affordability could become an issue causing volumes to crumble. We’re not at that stage yet, but it’s something to be mindful of. All told, this feels like the right time for a shift in leadership. Barring any unforeseen disruption over the next few months, Redfern’s measured departure should yield a relatively smooth transition.” About Hargreaves Lansdown Over 1.67 million clients trust us with £138.0 billion (as at 30 September 2021), making us the UK’s number one platform for private investors. More than 98% of client activity is done through our digital channels and over 600,000 access our mobile app each month. Updated on Dec 8, 2021, 3:25 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalk11 hr. 22 min. ago

Democrats View Socialism More Favorably Than Capitalism: Gallup

Democrats View Socialism More Favorably Than Capitalism: Gallup Authored by Jeffrey Jones via Gallup, Americans remain much more positive toward capitalism than socialism, and their ratings of each have been largely stable over the past decade-plus. And yet the fact that a whopping 38% of Americans view socialism positively is an ominous indicator of the current social state. These results are based on an Oct. 1-19 Gallup survey. Since 2010, Gallup has measured Americans' basic opinions of several economic or governmental terms, including capitalism and socialism. Their views of socialism have held steady, even as Sen. Bernie Sanders and progressive Democratic politicians have pursued an expanded government role in addressing healthcare, poverty and early childhood education -- policies their critics describe as moving the U.S. toward socialism. Likewise, Americans' opinions of capitalism have not varied, even with greater discussion of income inequality in the U.S. and the concentration of U.S. wealth in a small percentage of people. According to Gallup, socialism ties with "the federal government" as the lowest rated of the six terms included in the 2021 survey. In contrast, Americans are most positive toward small business and free enterprise, while they are slightly more negative than positive toward big business. Ratings of Big Business Dip Gallup has assessed Americans' opinions of these terms on six occasions since 2010. Their opinions on each have not moved much, apart from a significant decline in positive ratings of the federal government over time, from as high as 51% in 2012 to 38% in both the 2019 and 2021 surveys. This year's survey did show a modest decline in positive ratings of big business, from 52% to 46%, which mirrors declines in confidence in the institution of big business and in satisfaction with the size and influence of major corporations. Just as Republicans are responsible for the overall decreases in public confidence in big business and satisfaction with corporate influence, shifting Republican views account for the less-positive perceptions of big business. Currently, 56% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, down from 72% in 2019, have a positive opinion of big business. Democrats' and Democratic leaners' views are stable, at 36%. Republicans' dimmed views of big business coincide with a period when many Republican leaders and media personalities have publicly criticized large corporations for activism on social issues like racial justice, diversity and inclusion, and climate change. Many Republicans have also spoken out against large technology companies like Twitter and Facebook because they believe those companies are censoring conservative viewpoints. Even so, Republicans still view big business positively overall, and more positively than Democrats do. Republicans, Democrats Diverge on Opinions of Capitalism and Socialism Majorities of Republicans and Democrats have positive opinions of capitalism, but Republicans rate it higher. Whereas roughly seven in 10 Republicans and Republican leaners have viewed capitalism positively since 2010, about half of Democrats have done so. This year, 72% of Republicans and 52% of Democrats have a positive image of capitalism. The two partisan groups' opinions of socialism diverge even more, with 14% of Republicans and 65% of Democrats saying they have a positive image of it. Democrats' opinions of socialism have gotten slightly more positive over the years, moving from 53% in 2010 and 2012 to over 60% in the past two surveys. Republicans have become slightly less positive toward socialism than they were in the initial surveys. Since 2018, Democrats have rated socialism more positively than they have rated capitalism. Before that, they held similar views of the two economic systems. Bottom Line Americans' opinions of capitalism have generally been stable over the past decade, with around six in 10 having a positive view of capitalism and slightly fewer than four in 10 having a positive view of socialism. Democrats view both economic systems favorably, but have become more positive toward socialism than capitalism. Recent Gallup research found that Americans, particularly Democrats, are most likely to think of socialism in terms of equality and government provision of benefits and services. When Gallup polled Americans on the meaning of socialism in 1949, the largest proportion described it in the traditional sense as government ownership of the means of economic production. Thus, the meaning of the term to Americans is evolving, but most still view it negatively. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/08/2021 - 16:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt11 hr. 38 min. ago

PotlatchDeltic (PCH) Announces Special Dividend of $4 Per Share

xPotlatchDeltic (PCH) impresses investors with a special dividend announcement. PotlatchDeltic Corporation PCH is focused on enhancing shareholders’ returns. This leading timberland owner and manufacturer of lumber in the United States announced a special dividend of $4.00 per share and a 7.3% quarterly dividend hike. This marks the company’s 2nd consecutive annual dividend increase.PotlatchDeltic will pay out a quarterly dividend of 44 cents per share on Dec 31, 2021, to shareholders on record as of Dec 15. The special dividend will be paid on Dec 31, 2021, to investors of record on Dec 22. The company currently has a dividend payout of 23% and a dividend yield of 2.9%, based on the closing share price of $56.82 on Dec 3.PCH has been executing regular quarterly dividend payments since 2012. The recent hike infuses greater optimism for investors. The move indicates the company’s commitment to deliver long-term shareholder value and reflects its confidence in financial position and ability to generate sufficient cash flows.Jerry Richards, vice president and chief financial officer of PotlatchDeltic, said, “The alignment of our lumber-leveraged operating strategy with strong housing fundamentals is generating a record amount of cash. Returning approximately $275 million of this cash to shareholders in the form of a special dividend is part of a balanced capital allocation strategy that rewards shareholders. After paying the special dividend, we will still have significant capital available, including over $300 million of cash, to continue growing shareholder value.”Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchAt September-end, the company had $592.8 million in cash and cash equivalents. Its cash position looks strong enough to meet the current portion of long-term obligations worth $49.6 million. In the past nine months, PCH has paid dividends worth of $82.5 million.Strategies to Drive PerformancePotlatchDeltic has been improving the business portfolio through various strategies. The company is well positioned to reap benefits from a solid U.S. housing industry, strong repair and remodel market, and liquidity position. Also, strengthening Timberlands and Wood Products segments as well as accretive acquisitions are encouraging.The company has been actively acquiring timberlands that complement its existing land base, are cash flow accretive, and have attractive timber or higher and better use values. Timberland acquisitions are capitalized, based on the relative appraised values of timberland, merchantable timber, pre-production timber (young growth that is not yet merchantable timber), logging roads and other land improvements. During 2020, it invested $6.9 million in timberland acquisitions.The Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) company’s shares have gained 6.9% in the past three months compared with the industry’s 9% rally. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Some Better-Ranked Stocks in the Home Building IndustryBeazer Homes USA, Inc. BZH currently sports a Zacks Rank #1. This Atlanta-based homebuilder continues to gain from strong operational execution and persistent strength in the housing market.Beazer Homes’ shares have gained 38.2% year to date compared with the industry’s 30.7% rally. Earnings are expected to rise 23.7% in fiscal 2022.TRI Pointe Group Inc. TPH currently carries a Zacks Rank #1. This Irvine, CA-based homebuilder designs, constructs, and sells single-family detached and attached homes in the United States. Robust demand and pricing as well as improved operating leverage have been driving TRI Pointe's performance. Cost-cutting initiatives implemented earlier this year and focus on entry-level buyers have been adding to the positives.TRI Pointe’s shares have surged 50.6% year to date. Earnings for 2021 and 2022 are expected to rise 80.2% and 9.6%, respectively.Meritage Homes Corporation MTH currently sports a Zacks Rank #1. Based in Scottsdale, AZ, Meritage Homes is one of the leading designers and builders of single-family homes. Its focus on entry-level LiVE.NOW homes has been a major driving factor.MTH has gained 42.4% year to date. Earnings are expected to grow 74.4% in 2021 and 22.2% in the next year. Investor Alert: Legal Marijuana Looking for big gains? Now is the time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $13.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $70.6 billion by 2028. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could kick start an even greater bonanza for investors. Zacks Investment Research has recently closed pot stocks that have shot up as high as +147.0%. You’re invited to immediately check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Meritage Homes Corporation (MTH): Free Stock Analysis Report Beazer Homes USA, Inc. (BZH): Free Stock Analysis Report Potlatch Corporation (PCH): Free Stock Analysis Report Tri Pointe Homes Inc. (TPH): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 6th, 2021

From dedicated check-in desks to chauffeured cars, here are the perks Big Tech enjoys for spending hundreds of millions on air travel each year

Big Tech spends hundreds of millions of dollars on air travel each year and airlines use every tool in their belt to keep them happy and loyal. Delta Air Lines check-in for Amazon and Microsoft employees in Seattle.Alexei Oreskovic/Insider Companies that spend millions of dollars on air travel are given incredible perks from airlines. One such perk is top-tier frequent flyer status that comes with free upgrades, lounge access, and chauffeurs. Amazon and Microsoft even have dedicated check-in counters at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  Loyalty has its perks, especially when loyalty means spending hundreds of millions of dollars on airline tickets every year.Business travel is a leading revenue source for airlines and the top corporate spenders are frequently given extra benefits in exchange for their continued business. Some of the perks go way beyond what even the most frequent individual traveler could ever hope to receive.Tech companies are among the top spenders on airline travel given as Big Tech giants have offices and facilities around the world. China, for example, is a top destination for Silicon Valley-based firms like Apple.United Airlines, in 2018, revealed that Apple was buying 50 business class seats every day on flights to Shanghai, China. Apple's business with United at the time was worth more than $150 million in revenue.Airlines, however, lost a big chunk of that revenue during the pandemic as international borders started to close in January 2020. Cost-minded leisure travelers tend not to spend as much as business flyers and are less likely to pay for premium cabin travel or costly last-minute fares when vacationing. When big business does return to the skies, these are the perks that will likely await them.Expedited access to elite statusWelcome email for Delta Silver Medallion status.Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderEmployees that travel enough will often earn elite status with an airline that gives them extra privileges when flying. "The basic idea is you get to bypass a lot of the hassles," Brett Snyder, founder of the aviation blog CrankyFlyer, told Insider. Acquiring elite status requires loyalty to a particular airline to the tune of a few thousand dollars in purchased tickets and tens of thousands of miles flown. But airlines can also offer elite status memberships to corporate travelers as a "sweetener" in a contract even before the first flight, Snyder said.Most of the perks will come from having that elite status but airlines can still go above and beyond for top corporate clients. Dedicated check-in lanesDelta's Sky Priority check-in area at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderFor some companies, spending millions of dollars on travel means never having to wait in line at certain airports. At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, for example, Delta Air Lines has dedicated check-in desks for Amazon and Microsoft employees. While check-in counters are becoming obsolete given improvements to self-serve kiosks and airline mobile applications, employees can use them to quickly check their bags or have airline staff assist with any flight issues. The scheme isn't replicated at every Delta airport for Microsoft and Amazon employees but they will still likely have access to priority check-in areas. Business travelers often earn elite status on the airlines they frequent and can often use priority check-in lanes as a result, especially when traveling in a premium cabin, as Insider found when testing out the lowest tier of Delta's elite status. Some US airlines have private check-in areas altogether for elite status holders and premium cabin travelers, away from the main check-in desks, such as Delta's Sky Priority check-in area at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.Access to invite-only programsAmerican Airlines' first class check-in at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderWhile elite status is a common perk of frequent business travel, the highest echelons of those programs are reserved for an airline's top spenders. Attaining membership in the unlisted programs is the dream of any frequent traveler and top corporate clients may be given an allotment of memberships for their top travelers. American Airlines has ConciergeKey, United Airlines has Global Services, and Delta Air Lines has 360°."These are highly coveted programs, there's a mystery to them," Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider.Even if a member of these programs purchases the cheapest economy ticket on a given flight, they will still reap the benefits of complimentary lounge access, priority check-in lanes, early boarding, and a host of other secretive amenities that airlines won't discuss publicly. Airlines have different requirements for who is invited into their programs and limits on the number of memberships they can distribute each year, according to Harteveldt. Companies seeking to get memberships for their flyers would have to spend a significant amount on yearly air travel, with spend requirements varying from city to city. "Delta 360° is an annual, invitation-only program for our top SkyMiles Members, offering an exclusive suite of benefits and services even beyond Diamond Medallion Status," Delta writes on its website. "An invitation into Delta 360° is based on your overall investment with Delta. If you're selected to join, we'll contact you directly."A certain number of memberships are then given to corporate travel managers to distribute to employees, Harteveldt explained, with airlines being incredibly mindful of how many are allocated.Lounge accessAmerican Airlines' Admirals Club at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderAirline lounges are exclusive hideaways that offer private and comfortable seating when waiting for a flight, as well as complimentary snacks, beverages, and food items. Corporate customers flying internationally in business class will often have access to these lounges included in their tickets. Airlines will also give complimentary lounge memberships to their most frequent flyers. On American, for example, executive platinum status holders can choose to receive an Admirals Club membership as one of their free perks.ConciergeKey, Global Services, and Delta 360° members also receive complimentary lounge access for their respective airlines, according to, Harteveldt, Upgraded Points, and SFGate. Airside transfers in a luxury Porsche, General Motors, or Mercedes Benz vehiclesAn American Airlines Cadillac for ConciergeKey members.First Class Photography/Shutterstock.comMembers of the ConciergeKey, Global Services, and Delta 360° programs need not worry about running from one flight to another when passing through an airline hub with a tight connection. Rather, they'll be escorted down to the ramp and driven to their next flight in a luxury vehicle.American will chauffeur passengers in a luxury General Motors vehicle while United transfers its passengers in a Mercedes-Benz and Delta in a Porsche, according to Upgraded Points. [not sure this blog is reputable enough to cite on its own] Cadillac was formerly American's vehicle manufacturer of choice for airside transfers until the switch was made to GM, the airline confirmed to View from the Wing. [caddy is owned by GM — so need different wording here]It's a "surprise and delight" perk, Snyder said, that isn't guaranteed for everyone with a short layover. Airlines may also be more accommodating to passengers on delayed flights by holding their connections, Harteveldt said, depending on the customer and corporate client. Priority BoardingFlying on American Airlines during the pandemic.Thomas Pallini/InsiderElite status holders are often among the first passengers to board a flight, whether they're seated in a premium cabin or not. ConciergeKey members, for example, can board ahead of first class customers and active duty military members even if they've booked a basic economy ticket, according to American's boarding priority list.Early boarding gives flyers first pick at overhead bin space and more time to get settled before the rest of the plane boards.  Better opportunities for first class upgradesFlying Delta One on a Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-400.Thomas Pallini/InsiderComplimentary upgrades to first class are among the most valuable perks for an elite status holder. A single upgrade can be worth more than the price of a ticket and instantly elevate a travel experience, especially on longer flights. In many frequent flyer programs, any elite status holder can request an upgrade and they'll accommodate if there is a seat available. But oftentimes, there ends up being people that don't make the cut because there aren't enough seats available for all elite status holders. Corporate travelers, however, have a better shot at upgrades because airlines consider a variety of factors when determining who to upgrade. The level of elite status and how much a traveler's company spends with the airline in a given year are also taken into consideration. "Generally, if you have all things being equal, the person who works for a large corporate account that may have a major business relationship with an airline would likely get the nod for the upgrade ahead of the person who is an individual traveler," Harteveldt said. An airline also might give a certain number of upgrade coupons to a corporate client that can be used to get a premium cabin seat, Harteveldt added. Drink coupons and free snacksFlying Delta One on a Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-400.Thomas Pallini/InsiderNot all of what corporate clients get are grand gestures, however, and sometimes a free drink can make the difference. Coupons for a complimentary alcoholic beverage are sometimes included in a corporate contract, according to Harteveldt, and offered on certain fares geared towards business travelers.Airlines like Delta and American also offer complimentary alcoholic beverages in their extra legroom sections, which companies may be willing to purchase for their employees. Southwest Airlines' "Business Select" fare also comes with a free drink coupon.Some US airlines aren't currently offering alcohol in regular economy sections until the pandemic subsides but the perk will likely return. Some airlines also might offer complimentary meals or snacks to corporate flyers even if they're sitting in economy on domestic flights. American offers Executive Platinum status holders a complimentary snack and an alcoholic drink in economy, Snyder said. Dedicated reservation linesA Delta Air Lines employee.ReutersAirline hold times have markedly increased as airlines sought to shed their staff during the pandemic. Travelers can find themselves waiting on hold for hours.Elite status holders, however, have special phone numbers to use when calling the reservations desk with shorter hold times, and corporate travelers with elite status can also use them. Some companies were so important to airlines, however, that special phone lines were created just for their employees. "In the past, some airlines would create basically special toll-free numbers for their largest corporate accounts where the employees would call in and get a dedicated sub-group of agents within a reservations office so that they were served faster," Harteveldt said. Harteveldt noted that the perk likely doesn't exist anymore and those phone lines have been merged into the dedicated lines for top frequent flyers. "If you put somebody into the higher tiers of a frequent flyer program, they're going to get expedited service anyway," he said. Travel agents, however, including those with corporate accounts, still have lines to many airline reservation desks, Snyder said. "It's for the travel planners, the people that are doing the work," he said. Free or discounted extra legroom seatsA Delta Comfort+ seat.Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderNot all companies pay to fly their employees in a premium cabin on every flight but airlines can help make the economy experience more enjoyable by offering favorable rates on extra legroom seats, according to Harteveldt. Delta's "Comfort+" seats, for example, offer extra legroom as well as complimentary alcohol and premium snacks. Some airlines also offer complimentary upgrades into extra legroom sections for their elite status holders. Airlines also block certain regular economy seats that don't offer extra legroom but have a more preferable location in the cabin. Snyder says that corporate clients may be given advance access to those seats ahead of the public. Waived checked bag feesA United Airlines check-in counter.United Media LibraryA basic perk of earning elite status is getting a complimentary checked baggage allowance, which can save travelers and their companies money when a trip requires checked baggage. Companies may also be able to negotiate lower fees for checked baggage, Harteveldt said. More flexibility for corporate travelersFlying home from Bogota, Colombia on American Airlines.Thomas Pallini/InsiderMany US airlines have abandoned change fees for domestic flights but tickets can still be restrictive. The nature of corporate travel, however, requires additional leeway that airlines are willing to give to high-spending clients. "You get much more flexibility as a corporate [client]," Snyder said, noting that some airlines have a system for clients where points can be redeemed for perks. Common perks include things like name changes on tickets, flight changes, and converting non-refundable tickets into refundable tickets. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 4th, 2021

Elizabeth Warren Is So Very Wrong About Inflation

Elizabeth Warren Is So Very Wrong About Inflation Authored by William Anderson via The Mises Institute, Almost anyone who follows social media is familiar with the latest tweets by Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has pronounced her verdict on higher food and gasoline prices: they are nothing less than the result of corporate greed. In fact, according to Warren, there is no inflation, only corporations arbitrarily raising prices in their relentless pursuit of … profits. In a November 21 interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid, Warren declared (later placed on Twitter): Prices have gone up. Why? Because giant oil companies like Chevon and ExxonMobil enjoy doubling their profits. This isn’t about inflation. This is about price gouging for these guys and we need to call them out. Three days later, she outdid herself, declaring: Wondering why your Thanksgiving groceries cost more this year? It’s because greedy corporations are charging Americans extra just to keep their stock prices high. This is outrageous. To those familiar with Warren and her previous economic pronouncements, none of this is surprising. A decade ago, she declared that entrepreneurial successes are due to the government, not any decisions that entrepreneurs might have made, and her record in the US Senate speaks volumes to her economic illiteracy. That she should claim that all businesses have to do to increase profits is to raise prices is proof to her intellectual bankruptcy. Despite the title, however, this article is not about Elizabeth Warren’s economic viewpoints. However, in her declaration that no doubt plays well with progressives, she makes a specific claim: firms that wish to increase their profits and stock values simply need to raise the prices of whatever they sell. Warren’s claim raises an obvious question: If higher prices always lead to greater profits, why would any business owner pass up the chance for greater profitability? In fact, if high profits are tied directly to higher prices, then one would expect a cottage industry to spring up of class action law firms suing corporations for lowering their prices, since any firm is free to increase its profits at will. Doing anything less is dereliction of duty to shareholders. Not that I regularly follow Warren’s Twitter decrees, but I doubt seriously that she ever has praised any businesses when they lower their prices (oil companies often lower prices, not to mention technology firms). Since lower prices do not fit into Warren’s progressive narratives, it is doubtful that she even notices when that happens, and if we are to take her latest statements seriously, then we would have to believe that such an event could not happen because no profit-maximizing firm ever would impose losses upon itself when they are fully aware of a profitable alternative strategy. There are a number of fallacies in Warren’s antimarket missives, and I shall examine them from the Austrian viewpoint, specifically using Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State as the standard. I first look at her view of profits themselves. Like many American progressives, Warren seems to interpret business profits as an extraction of wealth from the community at large. Rothbard wrote about what he called the “altruists” as condemning profits: It is also peculiar that critics generally concentrate their fire on profits (“the profit motive”), and not on other market incomes such as wages. It is difficult to see any sense whatever in moral distinctions between these incomes. Indeed, progressives like Warren see markets in a starkly different way than do Austrians such as Rothbard. To Warren, markets are violent, predatory entities with no more moral standing than the Roman arenas. Rothbard, not surprisingly, differs: [C]ritics overlook the fact that the operation of the free market is vastly different from governmental action. When a government acts, individual critics are powerless to change the result. They can do so only if they can finally convince the rulers that their decision should be changed; this may take a long time or be totally impossible. On the free market, however, there is no final decision imposed by force; everyone is free to shape his own decisions and thereby significantly change the results of “the market.” In short, whoever feels that the market has been too cruel to certain entrepreneurs or to any other income receivers is perfectly free to set up an aid fund for him for depriving his fellowman of needed benefits. For the consistent altruist must face the fact that monetary income on the market reflects services to others, whereas psychic income is a purely personal, or “selfish,” gain. Entrepreneurial profits, Rothbard notes, do not come about because of nefarious behavior on part of the producers, but rather the good judgment successful entrepreneurs make regarding the present price of key factors of production and the predicted value of final products these factors help create. Writes Rothbard: What gave rise to this realized profit, this ex post profit fulfilling the producer’s ex ante expectations? The fact that the factors of production in this process were underpriced and undercapitalized—underpriced in so far as their unit services were bought, undercapitalized in so far as the factors were bought as wholes. One can imagine Warren and other progressives replying: “Maybe that is true in a theoretically competitive market, but oil companies and big food companies are not entrepreneurs, but rather are monopolies that regularly manipulate the market to their advantage. Their markets are not competitive, so they are free to set whatever prices they want and name their own profits.” While accusations of “market manipulation” by rapacious monopolies are common among progressives, identifying such actions of “manipulation” is difficult. The standard accusation is that these companies manage to keep supplies off the market, thus forcing up the prices of goods. The problem, of course, is identifying specific instances and also properly identifying scenarios in which such “manipulation” actually is possible. Take fuel prices, for example. If oil and gas companies were to hold back supplies in order to gain temporary price increases, they quickly would have to release those confiscated supplies back into the market (forcing down prices), as there are no secret storage areas that these companies possess that would enable them to set aside the massive quantities of fuel needed to accomplish what Warren and other progressives accuse oil and gas firms of doing. The only way fuel companies can make the kinds of windfall profits that Warren claims they are making is for them to experience either unanticipated surges in demand that overwhelm current supplies or for there to be external events that threaten future supplies and quickly increase the value of those present supplies. As I recently pointed out, the Joe Biden administration is attempting to cripple the oil and gas industries in the future in pursuit of its ill-advised green agenda, and one of the obvious effects of throwing down regulatory roadblocks and dangling criminal charges against fuel company executives for allegedly warming the earth is to ensure that future fuel supplies will be diminished. The upshot of such actions will be to force up the current prices of fuels. As I wrote in that article: While some have called this “regulatory overreach,” there is nothing surprising or shocking about this. The Biden administration response to anything it can tie to “climate change” is going to be heavy-handed and expansive, especially since regulators now believe they have been near-divinely appointed to bring better weather to planet Earth. The Biden administration’s actions have the effect of forcing up present prices because buyers know that the government’s attempts to cripple these industries will mean severely diminished supplies in the future. Such actions cause the value of current inventories to increase, which in the short term will boost industry profits. Since Warren openly supports the Green New Deal and other such measures, she is partly to blame for higher fuel prices even if she refused to admit she is part of the problem. To further emphasize this point, I use Rothbard’s examples to compare the government’s attempts to reduce production of oil and gas with the actions of coffee firms in Latin America to burn part of the year’s harvest to enjoy higher present prices. He writes: But is not monopolizing action a restriction of production, and is not this restriction a demonstrably antisocial act? Let us first take what would seem to be the worst possible case of such action: the actual destruction of part of a product by a cartel. This is done to take advantage of an inelastic demand curve and to raise the price to gain a greater monetary income for the whole group. We can visualize, for example, the case of a coffee cartel burning great quantities of coffee. In the first place, such actions will surely occur very seldom. Actual destruction of its product is clearly a highly wasteful act, even for the cartel; it is obvious that the factors of production which the growers had expended in producing the coffee have been spent in vain. Clearly, the production of the total quantity of coffee itself has proved to be an error, and the burning of coffee is only the aftermath and reflection of the error. Yet, because of the uncertainty of the future, errors are often made. Man could labor and invest for years in the production of a good which, it may turn out, consumers hardly want at all. If, for example, consumers’ tastes had changed so that coffee would not be demanded by anyone, regardless of price, it would again have to be destroyed, with or without a cartel. In the case of fuels, the oil and gas companies are not destroying present supplies or even hiding them in imaginary vaults. Instead, we have a government that does what it can to ensure that future supplies of these fuels will be less available and that firms are on notice that this particular president believes those companies should not even exist. And yet Warren and her colleagues are shocked, SHOCKED, that government-directed reduction of oil and gas supplies means higher present prices for consumers. Furthermore, contra Warren, we should expect fuel and commodity prices to rise substantially during periods of deliberate government monetary debasement (better known as inflation), as commodities historically have had wider price swings during periods of inflation and deflation and are very sensitive to changes in the value of the dollar. The markets for commodities like oil and crops are some of the most competitive markets to be found anywhere. Unfortunately, those that are most responsible for this current upswing in fuel and food prices are the same ones pointing blame elsewhere. Jacob Hornberger in his blog has noted that the Biden administration is taking a page from the Jimmy Carter administration more than forty years ago, which blamed higher prices on private enterprise. Hornberger writes: According to an article in the Washington Post, Biden is “considering whether to escalate an attack on parts of corporate America over rising prices…. The administration would amplify criticisms of large firms in heavily concentrated industries for passing higher prices on to consumers as they benefit from high profits” According to the article, “The White House took a step in this direction earlier this week, with Biden urging the Federal Trade Commission to escalate its investigation of anti-competitive behavior in the oil and gas industry, which the president alleged was leading to higher prices for drivers at the pump.” Readers like me who were adults during that time might remember that many in Congress and the media were calling for full nationalization of the oil industry, and that progressives of that era claimed (as they do now) that oil markets were not subject to ordinary laws of economics. That we have seen these things disproven over the past four decades means little to political, media, and academic elites who spew the same economic nonsense as they did in the 1970s. The explanations given by Austrians at that time, such as Murray Rothbard, still hold true today. We are seeing the natural results of massive monetary manipulation that dwarfs anything the Federal Reserve System and its government allies saw in the late 1970s and a new generation of progressives such as Elizabeth Warren are dusting off the old playbook and, with the help of elites of the mainstream media and academe, are spreading the old economic nonsense all the while destroying the fundamentals of a market economy. One likens them to the Bourbons of early nineteenth-century France after they were restored to power after the turmoil of the French Revolution and the Napoleon years. The French statesman Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand wrote of them, “Ils n'ont rien appris, ni rien oublié.” They have learnt nothing, and forgotten nothing. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/03/2021 - 19:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 4th, 2021

November Payrolls Preview: Strong Enough To Justify The Accelerated Taper?

November Payrolls Preview: Strong Enough To Justify The Accelerated Taper? With Powell's Fed having telegraphed it will accelerate the taper at this month's meeting so it can start presumably start hiking as soon as June of 2022, the November payrolls report may be moot although traders will be looking for barbell signs: will it be strong enough to validate an accelerated taper, or could it come so far below expectations that the Fed will be forced to delay its taper-boosting plans. Looking at the expectations, Newsquawk reminds us that analysts look for 550k nonfarm payrolls to be added to the US economy in November, similar to October's 531k; the jobless rate is seen falling by one-tenth of a percent to 4.5%. While as noted above the Fed appears almost certain to announce a quickening in the pace of QE tapering, analysts will be carefully watching measures of labor market slack to gauge the progress towards the Fed's 'three tests' for rate hikes: i) Participation was unchanged in October, ii) employment-population ticked up by 0.1ppts, while iii) the U6 measure of underemployment fell 0.2ppts. With the inflation tests met, the labor market data will form a key part of the Fed's arguments for rate hikes, and any significant  improvement in these metrics may see markets further price in tighter rates next year. Meanwhile, labor market gauges have generally been constructive in November: the rate of initial jobless claims going into the November survey period improved relative to the October window; ADP's gauge of payrolls was in line with expectations, though the pace eased vs October; business surveys saw employment sub-indices improve and are alluding to a very tight labor market, while today's Challenger job cuts fell to the lowest since 1993. Here is a summary of expectations: Nonfarm payrolls are expected to print 550k in November vs 531k in October (private payrolls expected at 530k vs 604k prior, manufacturing payrolls expected at 45k vs prior 60k); the 3-month average nonfarm payrolls trend rate eased to 442k in October (vs 629k in September), the 6-month average rose to 666k (from 622k) and the 12-month average eased to 481k (from 494k). The unemployment rate is seen declining by 0.1ppts in November to 4.5%; Labor market participation was unchanged at 61.6% in October (vs 63.6% in February 2020), U6 underemployment declined by 0.2ppts to 8.3% (vs 7.0% in February 2020), and the employment-population ratio rose 0.1ppts to 58.8% (vs pre-pandemic 61.1%). Average hourly earnings are seen rising 0.4% M/M, with the annual measure expected to rise by 0.1ppts to 4.0% Y/Y, Average workweek hours are likely to be unchanged at 34.7hrs. POLICY FOCUS: Fed Chair Powell this week delivered hawkish testimony to lawmakers, where he stated that the economy had continued to strengthen, the labor market had continued to improve, and he sees inflation moving down significantly over the next year. He added that it was appropriate to consider wrapping up the tapering of asset purchases a few months sooner, which participants will discuss at the December FOMC. Powell telegraphing the debate in advance may have taken some of the sting out of incoming economic data -- the rationale being that the Fed is set to accelerate the taper barring any significant deterioration in labor market and inflation data before the December 15th confab -- but Powell still suggested that there was a three-part test for raising rates (economy at maximum employment, inflation at 2%, inflation on track to moderately exceed 2% for some time); Fed officials have attempted to break the link between tapering and eventual rate hikes, but forward-looking markets will be assessing incoming data within the context of the three tests, and will price expectations of the Fed rate hike trajectory accordingly. The inflation test has been met, but Powell said there was still ground to cover to reach maximum employment, though he has previously said that could be achieved by the middle of next year; this week's labor market data, therefore, remains a key part of the eventual rate hike debate. SLACK: Taking an aggregate of the headline since March 2020, there are still some 4.44mln nonfarm payrolls to be recouped to get back to pre-pandemic levels. Goldman Sachs explains that it has been childcare constraints and elevated fiscal transfers which have likely weighed on participation, but these factors should have only a small effect going forward, but it may still take some time for some people to feel comfortable in returning to work, leaving some potential for longer-lasting drags. "We continue to expect that the labor force participation rate will increase in the nearterm, but we have nudged down our participation rate forecast to 1ppt below trend at end-2021 (61.9%) and 0.5ppts below trend at end-2022 (62.1%)," the bank says, "but because jobs are abundant and residual weakness in participation in mid-2022 will likely be due to changes in fiscal policy, wealth, and worker preferences, we expect that the FOMC will judge any participation shortfall that remains at that point to be structural or voluntary and will update their maximum employment goal accordingly." JOBLESS CLAIMS: In the week that traditionally coincides with the BLS survey window for the jobs report, initial jobless claims were little changed at 270k from the prior week's 269k; but since the October jobs report survey window, claims have eased from 351k. Continuing claims, meanwhile, printed 2.049mln in the survey week, down from 2.11mln in the prior week, and lower than the 2.81mln in the October survey period. Pantheon Macroeconomics said that the trend in initial jobless claims remains firmly downward, but the read may not be clear in the holiday season: "Unfortunately the numbers will be volatile over the holidays, as usual, and the next clean read on the data will be in mid-January," and by then, "we think claims will be close to the lows seen in the pre-COVID cycle, about 210K." ADP: The ADP's national employment gauge saw 534k job additions to the US economy in November, more or less in line with the 525k forecast; the prior was revised down trivially by 1k to 570k. ADP's economists noted that the labor market recovery continued to "power through" its challenges last month. "Job gains have eclipsed 15 million since the recovery began, though 5 million jobs short of pre-pandemic levels," ADP said, "service providers, which are more vulnerable to the pandemic, have dominated job gains this year." On the pandemic, ADP's economists said it was too early to tell if the Omicron variant could potentially slow the jobs recovery in coming months. BUSINESS SURVEYS: Within the ISM manufacturing report, the employment index rose by 1.3 points to 53.3, remaining in expansion for a third month, with the report noting some indications that the ability to hire is improving, though this is being partially offset by the challenges of turnover and backfilling. "Survey panellists’ companies are still struggling to meet labour-management plans, but there were modest signs of progress," ISM said, "an increasing share of comments noted improvements regarding employment," where "an overwhelming majority of panellists indicate their companies are hiring or attempting to hire." 51% of those surveyed were expressing difficulties in filling positions, with the situation becoming more acute in the month. Meanwhile, the services ISM is released after this month's jobs data, but using the IHS Markit flash November PMIs as a proxy, similar themes have been seen. IHS Markit said that pressure on capacity persisted amid labour shortages, with backlogs of work rising at the second-fastest pace on record. "Firms sought to expand their workforce numbers, but employment growth was held back by challenges finding suitablecandidates." JOB CUTS: Challenger's November report said that announced job cuts had dropped to 14,875 from the 22,822 in October, the lowest monthly total since May 1993. Year-to-date, employers have announced plans to cut 302,918 jobs from their payrolls, the lowest January-November total on record, and vs 2,227,725 vs the same period in 2020. Challenger said that "with the Omicron variant emerging and the unknowns that come with its spread, coupled with the ongoing difficulty hiring and retaining workers, it’s no surprise job cuts are at record lows," adding that "employers are spread thin, planning best- and worst-case scenarios in terms of COVID, while also contending with staff shortages and high demand." Speaking of Goldman, the bank is more optimistic than consensus and estimates nonfarm payrolls rose 575k in November, above the 531k gain in October and higher than the bank's initial forecast of +550k (which is in line with consensus). The bank expects no change in government payrolls, and thus private payrolls will also rise +575k in November (vs. consensus +525k).  According to the bank, the summer expiration of federal unemployment insurance benefits in some states boosted job-finding rates there, and the programs expired in the remaining states on September 5th. Over 4.6mn people have dropped off the unemployment benefit rolls since early September, and we assume 300-400k found new jobs during the November payroll month. Goldman also believes upward revisions to prior-month nonfarm payrolls are fairly likely in tomorrow’s report. The chart below reveals a trend of increasingly large upward revisions over the course of the year, with prior-month job growth revised up on net in each of the last six reports (including +235k with last month’s release). There are two potential explanations, both of which could potentially lead to upward revisions in tomorrow’s report as well. First, some reopening establishments may respond to the BLS survey with a lag (e.g. 1-2 months after reopening). This would result in positive revisions to the not-seasonally-adjusted data that occurred in May, July, August, and September (dark blue bars below). Second, the seasonal factors may be overfitting to the advance releases, mistakenly attributing some of the strong job creation to an evolution of seasonality (light blue lines below). ARGUING FOR A STRONGER REPORT: End of federal enhanced unemployment benefits. The expiration of federal benefits in some states boosted job-finding rates over the summer, and all remaining such programs expired on September 5. The 239k pickup in job growth in October relative to September is consistent with a boost from improved labor supply, and with 4.6 mn individuals no longer receiving benefits versus in early September, this tailwind is expected to continue in tomorrow’s report and beyond. Public health. The Delta wave coincided with a late-summer slowdown in job growth, with leisure and hospitality employment growth slowing sharply in September and October (see Exhibit 1). With covid infection rates falling since September, restaurant seatings on OpenTable have rebounded,and economists expect strong gains in leisure and hospitality and in other services. Job availability. The Conference Board labor differential—the difference between nthe percent of respondents saying jobs are plentiful and those saying jobs are hard to get—increased to a record-high of 46.9. JOLTS job openings decreased by 191kin September to 10.4mn but remained significantly higher than the pre-pandemic record. Jobless claims. Initial jobless claims fell during the November payroll month, averaging 257k per week vs. 320k in October. Continuing claims in regular state programs decreased 283k from survey week to survey week. Education seasonality. Education payrolls weighed on the previous two reports, declining 170k cumulatively in September and October (public and private). This reflects some janitors and support staff declining to return for the fall school year. While schools will eventually fill these open positions, the start-of-year catalyst for a large rise in education jobs has passed, and we are assuming only second derivative improvement in tomorrow’s report, such as a flat reading or a modest gain (mom sa). Employer surveys. The employment components of business surveys generally increased in November. Goldman's services survey employment tracker increased 0.5pt to 55.1 and its manufacturing survey employment tracker increased 0.7pt to 59.6. The Goldman Sachs Analyst Index (GSAI) increased 4.3pt to 77.2 in November, and the employment component rose 1.6pt to a record-high of 75.6. Job cuts. Announced layoffs reported by Challenger, Gray & Christmas declined by 10% month-over-month in November after increasing by 18% in October (SA by GS),and remain near their three-decade low. ARGUING FOR A WEAKER REPORT: Supply constraints in retail. Labor supply constraints may have weighed on pre-holiday hiring in the retail industry, for which the BLS seasonal factors anticipate net hiring of around 350k. If so, retail payroll could fall on a seasonally adjusted basis. Vaccine mandates. The vaccine mandates announced by the Biden administration nin September apply to roughly 25mn unvaccinated workers, and may have weighed on November job growth in healthcare and government. While the federal deadline for compliance is generally not until early January and faces an uncertain future in the court system, early adoption in some states may have reduced job growth at the margin in tomorrow’s report. NEUTRAL FACTORS Big Data. High-frequency data on the labor market were mixed. Three of the four measures available this month indicate another sizeable gain. However, the Homebase data that directionally flagged the September payroll missindicates an outright decline ADP. Private sector employment in the ADP report increased by 534k in November, in line with consensus expectations for a 525k gain and consistent with strong growth in the ADP panel. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 21:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 3rd, 2021

Kroger Reports Third Quarter 2021 Results and Raises Full-Year Guidance

CINCINNATI, Dec. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) today reported its third quarter 2021 results and will update investors on how key initiatives are positioning the company for long-term sustainable growth. Comments from Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen   "Kroger's strategy to lead with fresh and accelerate with digital continues to connect with our customers. Our agility, and the commitment from our amazing associates, is allowing us to navigate current labor and supply chain conditions and provide the freshest food at affordable prices across our store and digital ecosystem. "Our focus on execution, combined with our continued discipline in balancing investments in our associates and customers with exceptional cost management, and growth in our alternative profit business allowed us to exceed internal expectations and deliver strong sales and earnings growth. "Across all aspects of our business, we are innovating and executing with speed against the key initiatives that are transforming our business. Kroger is in a position of strength. We are committed to delivering for our associates, customers, and communities, and we remain confident in our ability to deliver total shareholder returns of 8% to 11% over time." Third Quarter Financial Results 3Q21 ($ in millions; except EPS) 3Q20 ($ in millions; except EPS) ID Sales* (Table 4) 3.1% 10.9% EPS $0.64 $0.80 Adjusted EPS (Table 6) $0.78 $0.71 Operating Profit $868 $792 Adjusted FIFO Operating Profit (Table 7) $974 $871 FIFO Gross Margin Rate* Decreased 41 basis points OG&A Rate* Decreased 49 basis points *without fuel and adjustment items, if applicable Third Quarter Results versus Two Years Ago 3Q21 ($ in millions; except EPS) ID Sales Two Year Stacked* (Table 8) 14.0% EPS Two Year CAGR (Table 8) 41.4% Adjusted EPS Two Year CAGR (Table 8) 28.8% Operating Profit Two Year CAGR (Table 8) 84.9% Adjusted FIFO Operating Profit Two Year CAGR (Table 8) 22.1% FIFO Gross Margin Rate Compared to Q3 2019* Decreased 43 basis points OG&A Rate Compared to Q3 2019* Decreased 79 basis points *without fuel and adjustment items, if applicable Total company sales were $31.9 billion in the third quarter, compared to $29.7 billion for the same period last year. Excluding fuel, sales increased 2.9% compared to the same period last year. Gross margin was 21.66% of sales for the third quarter. The FIFO gross margin rate, excluding fuel, decreased 41 basis points compared to the same period last year. This decrease primarily related to higher supply chain costs and continued price investments partially offset by sourcing benefits.   The LIFO charge for the third quarter was $93 million, compared to $23 million for the same period last year. This increase was primarily attributable to higher inflation across several categories, including grocery and meat. The Operating, General & Administrative rate decreased 49 basis points, excluding fuel and adjustment items, which reflects sales leverage and the execution of cost savings initiatives. Kroger recorded a nonrecurring benefit of $47 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, primarily due to the favorable outcome of income tax audit examinations covering multiple years. This amount is excluded from the company's adjusted net earnings per diluted share result for the third quarter. The income tax rate for the third quarter was 13.8%, compared to 24.2% for the same period last year. Capital Allocation Strategy Kroger continues to generate strong free cash flow and remains committed to investing in the business to drive long-term sustainable net earnings growth, maintaining its current investment grade debt rating, and returning excess free cash flow to shareholders via share repurchase and a growing dividend over time. Kroger's net total debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio is 1.68, compared to 1.74 a year ago (Table 5). The company's net total debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio target range is 2.30 to 2.50. During the quarter, Kroger repurchased $297 million of shares and year-to-date, has repurchased $1 billion of shares. As of the end of the third quarter, $511 million remains on the board authorization announced on June 17, 2021.   2021 Guidance Comments from CFO Gary Millerchip   "Driven by the momentum in our third quarter results and sustained food at home trends, we are raising our full-year guidance. We now expect our two-year identical sales stack to be in the range of 13.7% to 13.9%. We expect our adjusted net earnings per diluted share to be in the range of $3.40 to $3.50.   "Kroger is executing against its key financial and operational initiatives and continues to invest in strategic priorities that will drive attractive and sustainable total shareholder returns. We believe our business is emerging stronger through the pandemic and is well positioned to grow beyond 2021." Full Year 2021 Guidance IDs (%) EPS ($) Operating Profit ($B) Tax Rate** Cap Ex ($B) Free Cash Flow ($B)**** Adjusted* (0.4%) - (0.2%) $3.40 - $3.50 $4.1 - $4.2 22.1% - 22.5% $3.1 - $3.3 $2.4 - $2.6 2-Year Basis*** 13.7% - 13.9% (Stack) 25% - 26% (CAGR) 17.0% - 18.4% (CAGR) $3.3 - $3.4 (Average) * Without adjusted items, if applicable; Identical sales is without fuel; Operating profit represents FIFO Operating Profit. Kroger is unable to provide a full reconciliation of the GAAP and non-GAAP measures used in 2021 guidance without unreasonable effort because it is not possible to predict certain of our adjustment items with a reasonable degree of certainty. This information is dependent upon future events and may be outside of our control and its unavailability could have a significant impact on 2021 GAAP financial results. ** This rate reflects typical tax adjustments and does not reflect changes to the rate from the completion of income tax audit examinations or changes in tax laws, which cannot be predicted. Accordingly, this does not reflect the effect of the $47 million benefit recognized in the third quarter of 2021. *** Identical sales, without fuel, guidance for 2-year basis represents the sum of actual 2020 identical sales percentage and 2021 identical sales rate guidance. The 2-year basis guidance items denoted with CAGR represent the compounded annual growth rate utilizing 2019 as the base year. Average free cash flow is the average of actual 2020 free cash flow and 2021 guidance. **** 2021 free cash flow guidance includes a $300M payment of deferred payroll taxes. This excludes planned payments related to the restructuring of multi-employer pension plans. Third Quarter 2021 Highlights Leading with Fresh Surpassed $1 billion in annualized sales for Home Chef, becoming the newest Our Brands billion dollar brand in Kroger's portfolio Our Brands launched 216 new items during the quarter with plans to launch several innovative and unique products focused on helping customers enjoy the holiday season like Private Selection Holiday Trail Mix and Simple Truth Cranberry Pistachio Bread Expanded launch of our End-to-End Fresh program to over 50 additional stores Announced plans with Kipster Farms, the award-winning system founded in The Netherlands, to bring the world's first carbon-neutral, cage-free eggs to retail shelves under Simple Truth® brand Accelerating with Digital Launched Kroger Delivery Now nationwide with Instacart to provide 30-minute delivery, enabled by first-of-its-kind virtual convenience store shopping experience Introduced Boost by Kroger Plus, an annual membership program that provides customers free delivery and additional fuel points on purchases in four divisions Shared plans for five new customer fulfillment centers powered by the Ocado Group including expansions in California and Florida and entrance for the first time into the Northeast region Announced collaboration with Bed Bath & Beyond and buybuy Baby on a national e-commerce experience via Kroger.com and a small-scale physical store pilot to expand home and baby product offerings Kroger Precision Marketing launched a new programmatic advertising marketplace   allowing agencies and brands to reach consumers by applying Kroger customer data to campaigns within their preferred ad-buying platform Associate Experience Increased Kroger Family of Companies' average hourly wage to greater than $16 and with comprehensive benefits, will be greater than $21 by the end of 2021 Received two Brandon Hall Group - Excellence in Human Capital Management Awards, including Gold recognition for Leading through a Crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic and Silver recognition for A Fresh Welcome, organization's new and innovative onboarding program, which launched in 2020 Held nationwide hiring event with more than 20,000 opportunities in retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, merchandising, corporate, healthcare and more Live Our Purpose Kroger Health partnered with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to offer new Medicare Advantage plans that include an allowance to help customers purchase groceries and health items Kroger Health has administered more than 8.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to date, supporting customers and associates Marked one-year anniversary of organization's Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan to better use company's platform to create and advocate for more equitable communities. Shared the following progress: 405,000 associates completed diversity and inclusion training Increased our partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions from six to seventeen Achieved $4.1 billion in diverse supplier spend in 2020, a 21% increase versus prior year The Kroger Co. Foundation collectively invested $3.1 million to advance racial equity through partnerships with Black Girl Ventures, Everytable, LISC, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and other organizations Scored 100 on both the Disability Equality Index presented by Disability: IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the Corporate Equality Index presented by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation The Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Innovation Fund made impact investments during the first-ever Venture Showcase in two peer-selected startups, Agua Bonita and Matriark Foods About KrogerAt The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR), we are Fresh for Everyone™ and dedicated to our Purpose: To Feed the Human Spirit®. We are, across our family of companies, nearly half a million associates who serve over 11 million customers daily through a seamless shopping experience under a variety of banner names. We are committed to creating #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025. To learn more about us, visit our newsroom  and investor relations site. Kroger's third quarter 2021 ended on November 6, 2021. Note: Fuel sales have historically had a low gross margin rate and operating expense rate as compared to corresponding rates on non-fuel sales. As a result, Kroger discusses the changes in these rates excluding the effect of fuel. Please refer to the supplemental information presented in the tables for reconciliations of the non-GAAP financial measures used in this press release to the most comparable GAAP financial measure and related disclosure. This press release contains certain statements that constitute "forward-looking statements" about the future performance of the company. These statements are based on management's assumptions and beliefs in light of the information currently available to it. Such statements are indicated by words or phrases such as "achieve," "believe," "committed," "confident," "continue," "deliver," "expect," "future," "guidance," "positioning," "strategy," "target," "trends," and "will." Various uncertainties and other factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. These include the specific risk factors identified in "Risk Factors" in our annual report on Form 10-K for our last fiscal year and any subsequent filings, as well as the following: Kroger's ability to achieve sales, earnings, incremental FIFO operating profit, and adjusted free cash flow goals may be affected by: COVID-19 pandemic related factors, risks and challenges, including among others, the length of time that the pandemic continues, new variants of the virus and the effectiveness of vaccines against variants, continued efficacy of vaccines over time and availability of vaccine boosters, the extent of continued vaccine disinformation and vaccine refusal, and global access to vaccines, as well as the effect of emerging  vaccine and/or testing mandates and related regulations, the potential for additional future spikes in infection and illness rates including breakthrough infections among the fully vaccinated, and the corresponding potential for disruptions in workforce availability and customer shopping patterns, re-imposed restrictions as a result of resurgence and the corresponding future easing of restrictions, and interruptions in domestic and global supply chains or capacity constraints; the pace of recovery when the pandemic subsides; labor negotiations or disputes; changes in the unemployment rate; pressures in the labor market; changes in government-funded benefit programs; changes in the types and numbers of businesses that compete with Kroger; pricing and promotional activities of existing and new competitors, including non-traditional competitors, and the aggressiveness of that competition; Kroger's response to these actions; the state of the economy, including interest rates, the inflationary and deflationary trends in certain commodities; changes in tariffs; the effect that fuel costs have on consumer spending; volatility of fuel margins; manufacturing commodity costs; diesel fuel costs related to Kroger's logistics operations; trends in consumer spending; the extent to which Kroger's customers exercise caution in their purchasing in response to economic conditions; the uncertainty of economic growth or recession; changes in inflation or deflation in product and operating costs; stock repurchases; Kroger's ability to retain pharmacy sales from third party payors; consolidation in the healthcare industry, including pharmacy benefit managers; Kroger's ability to negotiate modifications to multi-employer pension plans; natural disasters or adverse weather conditions; the effect of public health crises or other significant catastrophic events, including the coronavirus; the potential costs and risks associated with potential cyber-attacks or data security breaches; the success of Kroger's future growth plans; the ability to execute our growth strategy and value creation model, including continued cost savings, growth of our alternative profit businesses, and widening and deepening our strategic moats of fresh, our brands, personalization, and seamless; and the successful integration of merged companies and new partnerships. Our ability to achieve these goals may also be affected by our ability to manage the factors identified above. Our ability to execute our financial strategy may be affected by our ability to generate cash flow. Kroger's effective tax rate may differ from the expected rate due to changes in tax laws, the status of pending items with various taxing authorities, and the deductibility of certain expenses. Kroger assumes no obligation to update the information contained herein unless required by applicable law. Please refer to Kroger's reports and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a further discussion of these risks and uncertainties. Note: Kroger's quarterly conference call with investors will broadcast live at 10 a.m. (ET) on December 2, 2021 at ir.kroger.com. An on-demand replay of the webcast will be available at approximately 1 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, December 2, 2021. 3rd Quarter 2021 Tables Include: Consolidated Statements of Operations Consolidated Balance Sheets Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows Supplemental Sales Information Reconciliation of Net Total Debt and Net Earnings Attributable to The Kroger Co. to Adjusted EBITDA Net Earnings Per Diluted Share Excluding the Adjustment Items Operating Profit Excluding the Adjustment Items Two-Year Financial Results   Table 1.THE KROGER CO.CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS(in millions, except per share amounts)(unaudited) THIRD QUARTER YEAR-TO-DATE 2021 2020 2021 2020 SALES $    31,860 100.0% $ 29,723 100.0% $    104,840 100.0% $   101,761 100.0% OPERATING EXPENSES MERCHANDISE COSTS, INCLUDING ADVERTISING,      WAREHOUSING AND TRANSPORTATION (a),      AND LIFO CHARGE (b) 24,959 78.3 22,901 77.1 81,820 78.0 77,906 76.6 OPERATING, GENERAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE (a) 5,177 16.2 5,194 17.5 17,692 16.9 18,162 17.9 RENT 197 0.6 205 0.7 648 0.6 682 0.7 DEPRECIATION AND AMORTIZATION 659 2.1 631 2.1 2,168 2.1 2,073 2.0      OPERATING PROFIT  868 2.7 792 2.7 2,512 2.4 2,938 2.9 OTHER INCOME (EXPENSE) INTEREST EXPENSE (135) (0.4) (129) (0.4) (438) (0.4) (438) (0.4) NON-SERVICE COMPONENT OF COMPANY-SPONSORED      PENSION PLAN COSTS (77) (0.2) 9 - (44) - 28 - (LOSS) GAIN ON INVESTMENTS (94) (0.3) 162 0.6 (694) (0.7) 952 0.9      NET EARNINGS BEFORE INCOME TAX EXPENSE 562 1.8 834 2.8 1,336 1.3 3,480 3.4 INCOME TAX EXPENSE  77 0.2 202 0.7 239 0.2 816 0.8      NET EARNINGS INCLUDING NONCONTROLLING INTERESTS 485 1.5 632 2.1 1,097 1.1 2,664 2.6 NET INCOME ATTRIBUTABLE TO      NONCONTROLLING INTERESTS 2 - 1 - 7 - 2 - NET EARNINGS ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE KROGER CO.  $         483 1.5% $       631 2.1% $         1,090 1.0% $       2,662 2.6% NET EARNINGS ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE KROGER CO.      PER BASIC COMMON SHARE $        0.64 $      0.81 $           1.44 $         3.39 AVERAGE NUMBER  OF COMMON SHARES USED IN      BASIC CALCULATION 742 772 747 777 NET EARNINGS ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE KROGER CO.      PER DILUTED COMMON SHARE $        0.64 $      0.80 $           1.43 $         3.35 AVERAGE NUMBER OF COMMON SHARES USED IN      DILUTED CALCULATION 752 780 757 785 DIVIDENDS DECLARED PER COMMON SHARE $        0.21 $      0.18 $           0.60 $         0.52 Note: Certain percentages may not sum due to rounding. Note: The Company defines First-In First-Out (FIFO) gross profit as sales minus merchandise costs, including advertising, warehousing and transportation, but excluding the Last-In First-Out (LIFO) charge. The Company defines FIFO gross margin as FIFO gross profit divided by sales. The Company defines FIFO operating profit as operating profit excluding the LIFO charge. The Company defines FIFO operating margin as FIFO operating profit divided by sales. The above FIFO financial metrics are important measures used by management to evaluate operational effectiveness.  Management believes these FIFO financial metrics are useful to investors and analysts because they measure our day-to-day operational effectiveness. (a) Merchandise costs ("COGS") and operating, general and administrative expenses ("OG&A") exclude depreciation and amortization expense and rent expense which are included in separate expense lines. (b) LIFO charges of $93 and $23 were recorded in the third quarters of 2021 and 2020, respectively.  For the year to date period, LIFO charges of $177 and $77 were recorded for 2021 and 2020, respectively.   Table 2.THE KROGER CO.CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS(in millions)(unaudited) November 6, November 7, 2021 2020 ASSETS Current Assets Cash $                   324 $                   367 Temporary cash investments 1,964 1,813 Store deposits in-transit 1,140 1,102 Receivables 1,914 1,610 Inventories 7,520 7,478 Prepaid and other current assets 518 576 Total current assets 13,380 12,946 Property, plant and equipment, net 23,316 21,902 Operating lease assets 6,655 6,843 Intangibles, net 954 1,012 Goodwill 3,076 3,076 Other assets 2,448 2,686 Total Assets $              49,829 $              48,465 LIABILITIES AND SHAREOWNERS' EQUITY Current Liabilities.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaDec 2nd, 2021

How ‘Subscribe to Me’ Became the Future of Work

Creators are bumping up against the limits of the platforms they use In August, Savannah’s entire monthly income was at stake. OnlyFans, the social media platform where she built her career, making an average of $2,000 a month from subscribers, had just announced it would be removing content like hers from the site. But there was little she could do about it. She remembers thinking: “OK, well, this is another Thursday, I might as well finish my Chick-Fil-A, and I’m just gonna chill here and wait for us to get some sort of response.” Savannah, 24, is part of a vibrant, supportive community of online sex workers that underwrite OnlyFans’s considerable financial success; it’s now valued at over $1 billion. But in a move that may foreshadow changes to come, that community was shaken when OnlyFans announced it would be banning explicit content on the site. “The sky falls on OnlyFans, like, every three or four months,” Savannah says, wryly. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] She could’ve gotten a more standard job when she graduated from college in 2020 with a business degree—maybe at a bank, as a mortgage loan officer. But while career-hunting, she was working three part-time jobs and her boyfriend at the time suggested trying out OnlyFans. She opened an account in January 2020, posting sassy videos and photos that showed off her passion for Star Wars cosplay and her cheeky sense of humor to attract subscribers. “It was nerve-wracking,” Savannah admits. At first, the subscribers just trickled in; she made $80 that month. Then the pandemic lockdowns started, and Savannah’s online star began to rise. “It was an extreme case of right place, right time,” she says. “Everyone was suddenly locked inside. And they were horny. And it just all came together.” By September 2020, she had earned enough money to buy her own house—a goal that had always seemed elusive with a traditional career path. “I never, ever thought that I would be stable enough to buy a house, period, in my lifetime,” she says. That sense of stability was put to the test by the new August policy—briefly. OnlyFans backtracked just days later. For many, online sex work is easy to ignore or view as the internet’s titillating sideshow. Historically, though, the conditions of sex work serve as an indicator of the health of a society, and the inconclusive OnlyFans incident could predict the future of the growing digital creator economy and its workers. Annie Flanagan for TIME“Not only has it absolutely changed the trajectory of my life forever, but I have fun, I’m my own boss,” says Savannah. Savannah considers herself half sex worker and half “online creator,” a burgeoning and nebulous category of workers who have turned to online platforms to profit off their talents and speak to niche audiences. But the creator economy that took off around 2011 with YouTube has evolved as creators seek autonomy over their intellectual property and freedom from brand sponsorships and social media restrictions. Writers, gamers, academics, sex workers, chefs, athletes, artists: anyone with a point of view, or a video to share, has flocked to sites like Twitch, OnlyFans, Patreon and Substack in hopes of selling their skills directly to their fans. A September study from the Influencer Marketing Factory estimates some 50 million people around the world participate in this economy, broadly—that’s a third the size of the entire U.S. workforce. The study valued the creator market north of $100 billion in 2021. Direct subscription creators are a fraction of that, but a rapidly growing one. There are over a million creators on OnlyFans; streaming platform Twitch boasts over 8 million active streamers; Patreon, which hosts pay-to-view visual and written content, says it has over 200,000 active accounts. And the money generated by this new class keep going up, with OnlyFans announcing it has facilitated over $3 billion in payouts to accounts since their founding five years ago. Patreon says its creator accounts have racked up over $2 billion. Twitch’s in-app purchases neared $200 million in the first half of 2021 alone. Creators skew Millennial and Gen Z; digital natives are, after all, more prepared to capitalize on and take risks online. One study from research firm PSFK suggested that over 50% of Gen Z Americans are interested in becoming an “influencer” as a career. But some of the most successful subscription creators—historian Heather Cox Richardson, musician Amanda Palmer, photographer Brandon Stanton, and model Blac Chyna—are in their 30s or older, and were well established in their careers before selling their skills online, a fact that lends the subscription creator economy more credence. These days, Savannah—who goes by Savannah Solo on her Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and OnlyFans pages—counts hundreds of thousands of subscribers to her public profiles, and 6,500 paying subscribers to her more risqué content on OnlyFans. She doesn’t want to stop. “Not only has it absolutely changed the trajectory of my life forever, but I have fun, I’m my own boss, I wake up and I put on makeup and I wear a stupid costume and make fun content. You can decide if you want to be a persona—or if you just want to be yourself,” she says. But, as she has learned in August, the reality of a creator career is more complicated. Annie Flanagan for TIMESavannah looks through OnlyFans messages while laying at home on Oct. 18. The problem with platforms The job title “creator” is a new invention, born in the past decade thanks to the rise of self-publishing opportunities. First there was YouTube, the ür-influencer platform. Then came Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These web2 behemoths offered anyone the ability to build a fanbase with little more than an internet connection (and, for the most successful, access to a way to photograph or video themselves). At first, little money was transferred into the hands of the creators; success in the form of wide viewership was a badge of honor, not a moneymaking scheme. That changed with the rise of models in which creators received a cut of advertising associated with their content (like pre-roll video ads on YouTube) and sponsored content and ambassadorship programs (like many of Instagram’s influencer programs). This kept content free for fans while still paying the creators—and it’s the model that still dominates the market. But positioning image-conscious brands in between fans and creators who value authenticity is not always a natural fit. Brands drop creators when they post something the brand doesn’t like. Creators lose autonomy when they spend all their time crafting sponsored content. Enter the paid social media model, in which audiences can contribute directly to their favorite creators. “From the creators’ point of view, it gives them more control and empowerment,” says OnlyFans CEO and founder Tim Stokely, about the potential for direct-to-creator paid social media to be the economic engine of the online future. The company is famous for featuring sex worker creators like Savannah, but Stokely is pushing the platform’s PG accounts, where users can subscribe to a chef’s cooking videos or a trainer’s workouts. Read More: Why OnlyFans Suddenly Reversed its Decision to Ban Sexual Content Twitch was early to this game, launching in 2011. “The digital patronage model we see popping up today in other iterations exists because of Twitch’s early entry in and focus on the creator economy,” says Mike Minton, Vice President of Monetization at Twitch. Twitch prefers to consider itself a “service” rather than a platform: it serves creators with access to audiences and monetizes their viewership, and serves fans by making it easy to watch and contribute. But it’s not all profit for creators. Hidden in the slick appeal of be-your-own-boss social media entrepreneurialism is the role of the platforms themselves, and sticky questions of ownership. Twitch, for instance, provides the necessary infrastructure for popular gamers to stream hours of high-resolution content to mass audiences of live viewers. But it also takes a 50% cut of any subscriptions. OnlyFans says the 30% it takes helps offset the costs of the security and privacy features that adult content in particular requires. Patreon takes from 5 to 12%, depending on your plan; Substack takes 10%, minus processing fees. Consummate middlemen, these companies have created low barriers to entry while still gatekeeping, at least financially. “There’s a history of artists being taken advantage of, and artists have to keep criticizing and keep skepticism at a high level,” says Jack Conte, CEO of Patreon. “I think that’s mission critical. Artists have to be educated, and choose wisely and watch platforms carefully.” Patreon, for its part, offers its users full access to their email lists in an attempt to offer greater control over their audience relationships. Patreon has had its share of controversy: a 2018 kerfuffle surrounded their choice to ban certain politically-extreme voices from the platform; payment snafus and hikes in processing fees have ruffled feathers; and their current content policies exclude sexually explicit work, to the frustration of some. The company is eager to try to keep up with creator-favored trends, however, announcing plans to integrate crypto payments and considering developing “creator coins,” and developing a native video player to more directly compete with YouTube. Stokely doesn’t try to promise financial stability or freedom to OnlyFans’ million-plus creators, especially given the complications of banking regulations (on which the company blamed the brief August ban of sexual content). He knows that change is inevitable, but he does promise one thing: OnlyFans will not become “littered with paid posts and adverts” like the free platforms. Annie Flanagan for TIME“I wake up and I put on makeup and I wear a stupid costume and make fun content. You can decide if you want to be a persona—or if you just want to be yourself,” Savannah says. Navigating an unsteady landscape Writer and musician Amanda Palmer, 45, is intimately acquainted with the challenges of creative autonomy. Palmer, the frontwoman of indie rock duo the Dresden Dolls, extricated herself from an album deal a decade ago, choosing to embrace independence—with all its financial risks—and gather income from her fans directly. “There’s been a general shift in consciousness, that people are no longer scratching their heads when an artist or a creator comes to you directly and says, Hey, I need 10 bucks,” she says. “You’re seeing it in right wing podcasting. And you’re seeing it in feminist journalism on Substack. And you’re seeing it with musicians and gamers on Patreon, and you’re seeing it with porn stars on OnlyFans.” Palmer started a Patreon in 2015, where she now posts bits of music, videos and blog posts to 12,000 paying subscribers. The direct, monetized line of communication with her fans has meant she could weather the pandemic storm—when she couldn’t play live concerts—using honesty and openness in the content she shares as bartering coin for their cash. She says she has made over $5 million in subscriptions to support her creative endeavors, although her net profit mostly just pays rent and living expenses. Still, it has been an effective solution to the conundrum of monetizing fame and artwork for a niche audience. Read More: The Livestream Show Will Go On. How COVID Has Changed Live Music—Forever Palmer’s experience with Patreon is a prime use-case for the company: a non-major artist finds financial freedom through direct-to-consumer content sharing. “Because of what’s happened over the last 10 years, there’s now hundreds of millions of creative people who identify as creators, putting their work online and already making a lot of money and want to be paid and want to build businesses,” Conte says. “Patreon is tiny; compared to the amount of creators in the world, we’re a speck.” But with $2 billion in payouts over the years, it’s proved to be a meaningful speck for a collection of creators. Conte says that about half the money that Patreon processes goes to creators who are making between $1,000 and $10,000 per month. “It’s not Taylor Swift rich, it’s not Rihanna rich. It’s a middle class of creativity: a whole new world of creators that are being enabled by this,” he says. It’s a group like Palmer: people who have a specific viewpoint, a built-in audience and an effective grasp on how to optimize their dynamic with fans. Still, even Palmer, who has “very warm feelings” about Patreon, recognizes that it can’t be trusted forever. “I’ve been ringing the warning bells for years about how dangerous it is to get into bed with a for profit company, and use them as the only avenue to reach your audience, right? Because it is dangerous, because at any moment, Facebook can take that away from you, at any moment, Patreon could sell up to Facebook and decide to change all of the rules of engagement. I really hope that doesn’t happen. But there are no guarantees in this dog eat dog tech world,” she says. “In order to protect myself, I always keep a lot of phone lines open with my community.” Annie Flanagan for TIMESavannah looks through photos with her assistant Cay. Healthy skepticism, and solidarity In her Instagram photos, Jahara Jayde doesn’t look real: technicolor eyes, luminous, airbrushed skin, ears elongated into elven tips. In her five-plus-hour Twitch streams every evening, though, she’s a bit more human, video chatting in real time with her thousand-plus viewers and slurping noodles from an unseen bowl as she plays Final Fantasy XIV through her dinnertime. When she streams, it’s just her and her subscribers. But she has discovered how vital it is to have a community of creators in this business, too. Twitch averages nearly 3 million concurrent viewers; in 2020, people watched nearly 20 billion hours of content on the site. By nature of its freewheeling live video DNA, it’s a place that is hard to regulate and populated by a wide array of characters. “I deal with racism on all of the platforms,” says Jahara, a 30-year-old BIPOC woman, citing in particular a recent influx of “hate raids” targeting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ creators on Twitch. Some creators even led a day-long streaming boycott to draw attention to the issue. Twitch has had to regulate the use of certain words and emotes (their version of custom emojis) in user chats in order to limit problematic language and content. Because of—and despite—that, Jahara has built a keenly supportive, tight-knit community that is expanding the definition of what it means to be a gamer or a creator, and who gets rewarded for the work. She’s a member of The Noir Network, a collective of Black femmes who work in content creation and help each other navigate the often-confusing Wild West of digital work, one that she is committed to continuing with. She loves the work, she just wants to make it better. Read More: The Metaverse Has Already Arrived. Here’s What That Actually Means Jahara didn’t mean to become a full-time gaming streamer when she first tried out Twitch in August 2020; she was already a business analyst with a side gig as a Japanese tutor, making use of her college degree. But soon she was gaining steam with eager subscribers: she got 300 in a month, more than enough to start monetizing her streams. “I was like, Oh, maybe I could be good at this,” she says over the phone from her home in Arizona. After just four months on Twitch, Jahara quit her day job. These days, thanks to Twitch’s subscription system, she brings in about $2,000 a month. With her tutoring clients, who she picked up because of her Twitch, she’s now matching her prior income. “And it’s awesome, because it’s doing the two things that I absolutely adore,” she says. “Ever since I was a little kid, my dad used to bring me into his room and talk to me about how I should work for myself, and the entrepreneurial spirit,” she says. She surprised herself by being able to take his advice. She has the freedom to be herself professionally, the flexibility to take care of her four-year-old daughter in the mornings before preschool, and the hope that her fiancé will eventually be able to leave his job as a manual laborer to support her online presence full time. (He already takes and edits all her photos, and does her marketing.) To her, it feels good to be a part of something. “I get a lot of messages, parents and teens and kids that tell me, like, ‘My daughter saw your photos, and her friends told her that she couldn’t copy that character because it’s not the same color as her, but now she’s excited to do it,” Jahara says. “People tell me that they feel more comfortable, they feel represented and they feel seen just by being able to see my face in the space. It wasn’t something that I expected when I set out for it. But it’s something that definitely keeps me going every day.” It’s networks like that one that have helped organize and provide a modicum of power to creators who are learning as they go. Longtime adult performer Alana Evans, 45, has an inside view of how this works; as president of the Adult Performance Artists Guild, she has helped hundreds of performers navigate issues with tech platforms including Instagram, Tiktok, and, of course, OnlyFans. “I was seeing hundreds of performers lose their pages, for very obscure reasons; you would be given an email that had vague reasons as to why maybe you were deleted, and they were absorbing all of their money,” she says. She and her organization have been able to help many rehabilitate their accounts. But these days she preaches the gospel of diversification, and of making sure that performers do their due diligence about who owns and profits from the platforms they share on. Beyond that, Evans has her sights set on the big picture: working through legal avenues to classify anti-sex-work restrictions, like those set by payment companies, as “occupational discrimination.” It’s only once they deal with the banking side of things, Evans explains, that online sex workers will be able to participate in the creator economy fully and safely. Read More: U.S. Workers Are Realizing It’s the Perfect Time to Go on Strike Creators in the music industry are trying to find power by banding together, too. By day, David Turner, 29, is a program manager at the music streaming service SoundCloud. By night, he publishes a weekly newsletter, called Penny Fractions, that goes into the nitty-gritty of the streaming industry; it’s been his pet project for over four years now. After publishing with Patreon for a few years, Turner realized only a small segment of the most popular creators were truly generating the income the platform touted. “They don’t care about me,” he says over the phone from Brooklyn. Now, Turner hosts his newsletter on an independent service and serves on the board of Ampled, a music services co-op whose tagline is “Own Your Creative Freedom.” Collectivization, as Turner sees it, is the safest way for this next generation to protect themselves from the predations of the market. Other decentralized social platforms like Mastodon and Diaspora, music streaming services like Corite and Resonate and sex-worker-backed sites like PocketStars have popped up to provide alternatives to the more mainstream options. Their selling point: bigger payouts to creators, and opportunities for creators to invest in the platforms themselves. But mass adoption has been slow. If the calling card of the independent platform is their bottom-up approach, that is also their limiting factor. By nature, they are scrappier, less funded and less likely to be able to reach the wide audiences that the top user-friendly sites have already monopolized. Annie Flanagan for TIMESavannah dresses up in Star Wars cosplay as Padmé. The future for creators When OnlyFans made its policy change in August, collectivization is what got sex workers through. Alana Evans helped lead the charge. To Evans, who has been in the industry for decades, it was just the latest iteration of exploitation from more powerful overlords. She saw her community speaking up against the change—particularly on Twitter, where sex workers and performers quickly renounced the policy and began proactively publicizing their accounts on other, friendlier platforms. To her surprise, their vocal opposition worked and OnlyFans moved quickly to find a solution. But Evans knows that this latest golden era of online work is already ending. “The writing is on the wall,” she says. Even successful creators like Savannah have begun actively promoting accounts on alternate platforms like PocketStars and Fansly. They know no solution, and no single site, will be forever. “The advice I’ve been given is to expect it all to crumble, and to have to rebuild again,” Savannah says. That advice isn’t specific to OnlyFans; it’s echoed by Amanda Palmer about Patreon, and Jahara about Twitch. As platforms inevitably seek a better bottom line, the creator workforce has no choice but to trust the tech companies will do right by them. In the meantime, they’re taking a note from the labor movement that has risen up in other industries this year: solidarity works......»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 1st, 2021

Why Should You Add ProAssurance (PRA) to Your Portfolio?

Riding on inorganic growth and cost-curbing measures, ProAssurance (PRA) holds the potential to reap benefits for investors. ProAssurance Corporation PRA is continuously favored by investors on the back of its growing revenues, cost-cutting initiatives and strategic measures. Operational and investment excellence also drive the stock.Over the past seven days, the stock has witnessed its 2021 earnings estimate move 2.1% north.Here we discuss the reasons for adding this currently Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) ProAssurance to your investment portfolio. You can see  the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Given PRA’s strong fundamentals, it is well-placed for long-term growth.ProAssurance achieved significant inorganic growth via successful acquisitions and integrations of companies. Its financial size and strength helped it in this regard.PRA also completed the NORCAL Mutual buyout, which intensified its focus on the Medical Professional Liability Insurance (MPLI) space and enhanced its size and scale in the same. This makes the combined entity the nation's third-largest specialty writer of liability insurance for healthcare professionals and facilities. The integration plan is expected to be concluded by 2022.The insurer witnessed solid gross premiums over a period, evident from its 2015-2019 revenue stream. The metric, however, declined in 2020 due to lower premiums across the Specialty P&C segment, Workers’ Compensation Insurance segment and the Segregated Portfolio Cell Reinsurance segment. In the first nine months of 2021, gross premiums written improved 22.5% from the prior-year comparable period’s level on the back of higher new business written and strong retention rates.ProAssurance is making concerted efforts to reduce its overall costs. Total expenses declined 12.1% in the first nine months of 2021 from the prior-year comparable period’s tally. PRA’s expense ratio fell in all segments in the first nine months of 2021, barring Segregated Portfolio Cell Reinsurance.PRA has a good solvency position on the back of cash inflows. As of Sep 30, 2021, it had cash and cash equivalents of $203 million, a revolving credit facility of up to $250 million and the possibility of a $50-million accordion feature. The insurance company has robust cash-generating abilities in place, which enabled it to pursue growth-related initiatives and prudently deploy capital through share repurchases and dividend payments.ProAssurance is poised well for growth owing to solid volumes and a diversified footprint.However, we are concerned about its high expenses, which are likely to put pressure on its margins going forward.The insurer’s 2021 earnings estimate stands at 97 cents, indicating an upside of 286.5% from the year-ago reported figure.Price PerformanceShares of this property and casualty (P&C) insurer have gained 30.2% year to date compared with the industry’s growth of 9.3%. Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchOther top-ranked stocks in the insurance space are Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), RLI Corp. RLI and Kinsale Capital Group KNSL. While Berkshire Hathaway and RLI Corp. currently have a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), Kinsale Capital sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).Berkshire Hathaway owns more than 90 subsidiaries in insurance, rail roads, utilities, manufacturing services, retail and home building. BRK.B managed to deliver trailing a four-quarter surprise of 5.53%. Its shares have gained 21.7% year to date.RLI Corp. is a specialty property-casualty (P&C) underwriter that caters primarily to the niche markets through its main operating subsidiary RLI Insurance Company. RLI’s shares have gained 6.3% in the past year. RLI’s earnings managed to surpass estimates in all the trailing four quarters, the average being 39.84%.Kinsale Capital offers various insurance and reinsurance products across all 50 states of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. KNSL came up with a trailing four-quarter surprise of 37.6%, on average, and the stock has gained 3.6% year to date. Tech IPOs With Massive Profit Potential: Last years top IPOs surged as much as 299% within the first two months. With record amounts of cash flooding into IPOs and a record-setting stock market, this year could be even more lucrative. See Zacks’ Hottest Tech IPOs Now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report RLI Corp. (RLI): Free Stock Analysis Report Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B): Free Stock Analysis Report ProAssurance Corporation (PRA): Free Stock Analysis Report Kinsale Capital Group, Inc. (KNSL): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 30th, 2021