Deon Wong, Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Student
On Wednesday 24th March 2021, Year 1 & 2 Fda Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Students (VARM) attended a virtual Q&A with extra special guest Francis Jackson (Alton Towers Resorts Operations Director). The meeting enabled students to ask Francis on all things Alton Towers, specifically his journey, COVID impacts, new role and advice on how to be successful within the industry. I (Deon Wong), one of the VARM students, was given the opportunity to become the master of ceremonies and lead the Q&A.
Francis Jackson began the Q&A by giving us a brief
background history into his experience, from working at Australia’s Falls Creek
Ski Lifts as the Director of Snowsports to being the beloved Operations Director
at Alton Towers. He has a solid belief in transferring his knowledge gained and
sharing them with his team to make them bigger and better. Francis expressed
his huge heart towards Alton Towers and how he enjoys the customer focus
moments, where he has built relationships to improve the customer journey. He
regrets not having time to be out there with the customers and staff due to his
Moving into the 2021 season, ATR aims to deliver a ‘thrilliant’
season of celebrations and fun. With an increase in footfall, new safety
regulations are introduced to adhere to the safety guidelines. Francis mentioned
various new additions to accompany guests’ safety and capacity, from utilising
the lawn space, new ride openings, temporary flat rides, and monorail
adjustments. Maintaining a ‘fantabulous’ presentation and customer journey is a
massive priority for Francis. From ensuring cigarettes and chewing gum are
picked up to repainting areas. Francis states it’s all about the “pursuit
of guest excellence for the guest journey “- (Francis Jackson, 2021).
Francis Jackson discussed his new role as general manager. With
over 30 years of experience in the leisure industry, he’s driven to make the
customer journey and experience better. He understands change is always good,
as businesses can’t stay static. They have to adapt, change and constantly move
forwards to progress. He’s a firm believer in achieving an outstanding
organisation by refocusing on corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion.
Within his new role as general manager, he’s accountable for all things COVID
related, capacity and having the final say in difficult decisions.
Lastly, Francis Jackson passed on specific advice on how to
be successful within the leisure industry. From knowing your product, listening
to guest feedback and continuously pushing the product your offering to entice
guests. One advice he advises is for people to be authentic and be true to
themselves; once you divert and create a fake facade, issues will arise. It’s
important to feel confident and ensure you have questions to ask, as It’s
constantly a lesson of growth and development.
Radicic, D., Pugh, G. and Douglas, D. (2018).
Promoting cooperation in innovation ecosystems: Evidence from European
traditional manufacturing SMEs, Small
Business Economics. Accepted 01-08-2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-018-0088-3
We investigate whether public support for innovation
increases the propensity of SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries to
cooperate for innovation—in particular, for incremental innovation—with other
firms and external knowledge providers. Using data from seven EU regions, we
find that support programmes do not promote cooperation with competitors,
marginally promote cooperation with customers and suppliers and strongly
promote cooperation with knowledge providers. These findings suggest that, in
this case, the role of public policy is systems conforming rather than systems
creating. Innovation support programmes can assist SMEs in traditional
manufacturing industry to consolidate and/or extend their innovation ecosystems
beyond familiar business partners by promoting cooperation with both private
and public sector knowledge providers. Finally, our findings suggest that
evaluation studies of innovation support programmes should be designed to
capture not only input and/or output additionality but also behavioural and
manufacturing industry; Innovation ecosystems; Innovation policy; Cooperation
for innovation; Behavioural additionality
Radicic, D., Douglas, D., Pugh, G. and Jackson, I.
(2018). Cooperation for innovation and its impact on technological and
non-technological innovations: empirical evidence for European SMEs in
traditional manufacturing industries, International
Journal of Innovation Management. Accepted 07-09-2018. https://doi.org/10.1142/S1363919619500464
Drawing on a
sample of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in traditional
manufacturing industries from seven EU regions, this study investigates how
cooperation with external organisations affects technological (product and
process) innovations and non-technological (organisational and marketing)
innovations as well as the commercial success of product and process
innovations (i.e., innovative sales). Our empirical strategy takes into account
that all four types of innovation are potentially complementary. Empirical
results suggest that cooperation increases firms’ innovativeness and yields
substantial commercial benefits. In particular, increasing the number of
cooperation partnerships has a positive impact on all measures of innovation
performance. We conclude that a portfolio approach to cooperation enhances
innovation performance and that innovation support programs should be
From the MAPEER project:
Radicic, D. and Pugh, G (2016). R&D programmes, policy mix, and the “European Paradox”: evidence from European SMEs, Science and Public Policy, 44 ( 4 ) ( 2017 ), pp. 497 – 512. doi: 10.1093/scipol/scw077. First published online: October 2, 2016.
Using a sample of small and medium-sized enterprises from
twenty-eight European countries, this study evaluates the input and output
additionality of national and European Union (EU) R&D programmes both
separately and in combination. Accordingly, we contribute to understanding the
effectiveness of innovation policy from the perspective of policy mix.
Empirical results are different for innovation inputs and outputs. For
innovation inputs, we found positive treatment effects from national and EU
programmes separately as well as complementary effects for firms supported from
both sources relative to firms supported only by national programmes. For
innovation outputs, we report no evidence of additionality from national
programmes and cannot reject crowding out from EU programmes. However, crowding
out from EU support is eliminated by combination with national support. These
findings have policy implications for the governance of R&D policy and
suggest that the European paradox—success in promoting R&D inputs but not
commercialisation—is not yet mitigated.
Key words: R&D support; SMEs; policy mix; input and
output additionality; European paradox
Radicic, D. and Pugh, G. (2017). Performance
Effects of External Search Strategies in European Small and Medium-Sized
Enterprises. Journal of Small Business
Management, 55, 76-114. First
published on-line: Feb.15th 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jsbm.12328
There is little evidence regarding the performance impact of
open innovation on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially across
different firm-size categories and sectors. Using new survey data from 28
European countries, we specify ordered logit and generalized proportional odds
models to explore how seven individual external search strategies (knowledge
sources) affect SME innovation performance across different size categories and
sectors. While we find some consistently positive effects, in particular from
using customers as an external knowledge source, we also find that some search
strategies may not be beneficial. These findings suggest managerial and policy
Radicic, D. (2020). National and international
R&D support programmes and technology scouting in European small and medium
enterprises. Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management 11(4), 455-482. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTPM-10-2019-0091
Purpose. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of
national and international R&D support programmes on firms’ technology
scouting, defined as firms’ use of external knowledge sources.
Design/methodology/approach. Drawing on a unique data set on
R&D support programmes for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
operating in both manufacturing and service sectors across 28 European countries,
this study reports treatment effects estimated by the copula-based endogenous
switching model, which takes into account unobserved firm heterogeneity.
Findings. Empirical results indicate that R&D support
programmes have heterogeneous effects on technology scouting. In particular, a
crowding-out effect arises in the case of informal sources of external
knowledge, whereas additional effects are reported for formal, strategic
Practical implications. For informal sources of external
knowledge, a random distribution of R&D measures would have a substantially
larger effect rather than using current selection criteria.
Originality/value. To the best of the authors’ knowledge,
this is the first study to explore the policy effects on technology scouting
applying a copula-based endogenous switching model. Most cross-sectional
empirical studies use matching estimators, although their main disadvantage is
the selection on observables.
Key words External knowledge search; Behavioural additionality; Copula-based endogenous switching model; European SMEs; Technology
GPrix project (November 2009 – February 2012) commissioned by the European Commission’s DG-Research. Full title: Good Practices in Innovation Support Measures for SMEs: facilitating transition from the traditional to the knowledge economy; Instrument: SP4-Capacities—CSA—Support Action; Call: FP7-SME-2009-1; Grant agreement Number: 245459. The website for this project, including aa very large number of deliverables etc., is currently available at http://business.staffs.ac.uk/gprix/en/index.htm
MAPEER project commissioned by the European Commission’s DG-Research. Full title: Making Progress and Economic Enhancement a Reality for SMEs. Funded under FP7-SME. Grant agreement ID: 245419. The MAPEER project website is no longer available but the results are reported in summary form on CORDIS: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/93511/factsheet/en
The two projects coordinated their questionnaire surveys to
facilitate analysis and eventual publication. Together, participants at
Staffordshire University contributed to seven publications arising from these
The GPrix project
focused on evaluating innovation support measures for SMEs in traditional
manufacturing industries. In brief, three published articles and a UNI-MERIT
Working Paper arising from the project reported that:
the estimated effects of innovation support
programs are positive, typically increasing the probability of innovation and
of its commercial success;
although innovation support measures in the EU
are mostly designed to support product innovation in R&D intensive sectors,
for firms in traditional manufacturing industries a broader innovation (policy)
mix is more appropriate, including support for product innovation, process
innovation, marketing and organizational innovations (of particular
importance), together with internationalization, design and cooperation;
innovation support programmes can assist SMEs in
traditional manufacturing industry to consolidate and/or extend their
innovation ecosystems by promoting cooperation with both private and public
sector knowledge providers, suggesting that initial input and/or output
additionality from public support may be propagated and amplified by behavioural
and systemic effects; and
the number of cooperation partnerships has a positive impact on all measures of
The MAPEER project focused on innovation support for SMEs more
generally. Three articles arising from this project reported:
“European paradox” regarding SME support — i.e. success in promoting R&D
inputs but not commercialisation — is not yet mitigated;
new evidence on “open innovation” strategies, suggesting
not only some consistently positive effects, in particular from using customers
as an external knowledge source, but also that some search strategies may not
be beneficial; and
evidence that R&D support programmes have
heterogeneous effects on technology scouting – defined as firms’ use of
external knowledge sources – including a crowding-out effect on informal
sources of external knowledge but additionality with respect to formal, strategic sources.
For convenience, the abstracts of all seven contributions
are reproduced below
From the GPrix
Radicic, D., Pugh, G., Hollanders, H., Wintjes, J., and Fairburn, J. (2016). The impact of innovation support programs on small and medium enterprises innovation in traditional manufacturing industries: An evaluation for seven European Union regions. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 34(8) (December): 1425-1452. First published online December 18, 2015. doi:10.1177/0263774X15621759
We evaluate the effect of innovation support programs on
output innovation by small and medium enterprises in traditional manufacturing
industry. This focus is motivated by a definition of traditional manufacturing
industry that includes capacity for innovation, and by evidence of its
continued importance in European Union employment. We conducted a survey in
seven European Union regions to generate the data needed to estimate
pre-published switching models by means of the copula approach, from which we
derived treatment effects on a wide range of innovation outputs. We find that
for participants the estimated effects of innovation support programs are
positive, typically increasing the probability of innovation and of its
commercial success by around 15%. Yet, we also find that a greater return on
public investment could have been secured by supporting firms chosen at random
from the population of innovating traditional sector small and medium
enterprises. These findings indicate the effectiveness of innovation support
programs while suggesting reform of their selection procedures.
Small and medium enterprises, evaluation, traditional
manufacturing, innovation support, innovation outputs
support measures in the EU are mostly designed to support product innovation in
R&D intensive sectors. To increase the still considerable contribution to regional
employment and competitiveness from SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries
a broader innovation (policy) mix is more appropriate. This paper draws data
from a survey of more than 300 SMEs from seven regions within the European Union,
as well as case studies, to address the question: How can innovation policy interventions
be improved to support SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries more
effectively? We claim that innovation support should be sensitive to the way SMEs
in traditional manufacturing sectors innovate and grow. We find that product innovation
(and support used for product innovation) is less likely to generate growth, than
(support used for) process innovation. Also (support used for) marketing innovations
and organizational innovations are of particular importance – together with
internationalization, design and cooperation. The increasingly selective application
procedures applied are not the most efficient to generate impact, since those
who are supported (and those who are supported more frequently), are the ones who
are most likely to take the same innovative steps anyhow, irrespective of
SMEs; traditional sectors; low-tech; policy evaluation; manufacturing; process innovation
is my 3rd blog and I will continue with the theme of sharing my
thoughts from previous corporate employment. So, this one is dedicated to
While teaching on a level 6 module ‘Change and Transformation’ we watched a video where the HR Manager for sales in Google was talking about creating trust and people management (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRsJbpppvEU). She stated that she does not check on how much time her team spends in office or how many sick days they take. She further said that there was no rule on specific office timings. It was all about performance which was evaluated quarterly and an individual could decide how they met their targets as they were adults and could work out their own schedules and holidays; thus, managing their work/life balance.
reminded me of one of my favourite bosses in the corporate world. I had to
travel home which was in another city on a personal emergency and in my request
did mention that all work will be taken care of – his reply – I don’t care if
you work out of Timbuktu, till the work is done. That was the trust my boss had
in me and that trust helped in creating the best work/life balance I had in my
A checklist by CMI, confirms that the employers need to provide the control to employees to manage their working arrangements taking into consideration their social aspects and also achieve organisational objectives.
If organisations offer flexitime, the communication should be clear and the corporate culture should support it. Creating a culture of respect and trust (Grimes, 2011) is the first step towards successful flexitime policies supporting work/life balance. This is not easy and has its challenges; however, with correct implementation, this can lead to employer/employee satisfaction, thriving organisations and increased employee retention.
the face of the pandemic, when working from home has become the ‘new normal,’
the need for trust between employer and employee has further heightened. Many
companies like Unilever have gone on record about increased productivity and increased
employee engagement as an outcome of remote working.
In a study conducted on ethical behaviours by managers, trust shown by senior management and supervisors and their support for work/life balance was perceived to be ethical (Cowart, et al., 2014).
As we move through the Government’s Roadmap to ‘normality’ over the next few months, employers will be starting to consider what this may mean for staff returning to office environments. Many staff who have been able to work from home throughout the pandemic have reported increased productivity, better work life balance, saving time and money through the elimination of the commute, as well as many other benefits.
There have been some drawbacks, particularly where staff have had to juggle home-schooling and caring responsibilities, but as these staff become able to return to a normal working routine, it is likely that they will start to experience some of the same benefits as their colleagues
A recent YouGov survey showed that 91% of respondents surveyed who have been able to work from home during the pandemic, want to continue to do so at least some of the time. This pressure from employees (who have proved that they can successfully work from home), should be a catalyst for most organisations to make changes to the levels of flexibility they will allow. If organisations choose not to offer greater levels of flexibility in WHERE staff work, they may see their employees move to a competitor who IS willing this. More and more frequently ‘working from home’ can be found on job advertisements for professionals, allowing these organisations to take advantage of the changing demands of employees, and opening their vacancies to a much wider talent pool, giving them more choice in their chosen candidate.
What the ‘mass working from home experiment’ over the last year has taught us is that everyone in our organisations can benefit from a level of flexibility, and the organisation will benefit in return through higher levels of engagement and commitment. Consider another benefit to increasing flexibility, the ability to truly open vacancies to more diverse candidates, from those with disabilities for whom homeworking would be much easier, to increasing the number of women in the workforce (and in senior roles) through allowing more flexibility around WHEN the work can be done.
One of the main challenges to remote working has been around managing (or monitoring) performance. This link between presence and performance has been prevalent in sectors where a judgement about performance is not based on measurable KPIs, rather about the complexity of work and behaviours demonstrated in performing it. This could provide challenges to organisations who are willing to improve the flexibility which they offer. This raises a series of questions for managers and leaders:
What does ‘good’ work look like? This will be a question that needs to be answered by each manager as they attempt to define what their performance expectations are within the new parameters of work.
Are managers communicating their expectations clearly enough?
Are they making themselves available, but not inserting themselves unnecessarily into the working day of their teams?
And most importantly, are they developing relationships built on trust with each of their team members? It is these relationships that will determine the success of the flexible working strategy and will allow the organisation to take advantage of the many financial and intangible benefits of a flexible workforce for the foreseeable future.
By 2050, two-thirds of the
world’s population will live in towns and cities, resulting in the consumption
of over 70% of energy, and the emission of an equal amount of greenhouse gases
(European Commission, 2019). The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating the challenges
that cities have already been facing from multiple fronts such as rapid
urbanisation, digital disruptions, demographic, climate and environmental
changes, economic restructuring and reforms. Covid-19 is changing how urban
residents live, work and commute and reshaping economic structures and business
models. In the current global battle against Covid-19, smart cities have a
pivotal role to play in responding to the crisis in terms of track-and-trace of
coronavirus cases using smart technologies, enforcing social distancing rules,
getting homeless people off the streets, and special emergency measures for
care homes, to give just a few examples.
The concept of a smart city has
been seen as a strategy to tackle the grand challenges facing urban planning
and development. Smart city is a fuzzy word with various terms being used – intelligent
city, digital city, green city, knowledge city, and smart sustainable city.
Research on smart city can be traced back to the 1990s, taking on many perspectives,
mostly in four aspects: the technological aspect including the technological
infrastructure and support network for building smart cities, the
socio-cultural aspect, or citizen engagement, the political-institutional
aspect, such as government support and policies, and the economic-business
aspect, namely business models and profitability.
A team of researchers (Prof Zhao, Dr Olushola Fashola, Dr Tolulope Olarewaju and Dr Ijeoma Onwumere) at Staffordshire Business School have been investigating what has been done in smart city research over the past 20 years. After a systematic and comprehensive literature review, the research team found that smart city research tends to revolve around six key areas: digital technology diffusion, smart city strategy and implementation, supply chains and logistics, urban planning and governance, smart city entrepreneurship and innovation, and Smart city evaluation and measurement. The team also identified four major challenges for small city research: (a) smart city research is often fragmented and technology-driven; (b) many studies are on perceived benefits of smart cities and fewer on the downsides of the effect of technologies and failure projects; (c) there is a need to build new theories for smart city research; and (d) there is a lack of empirical testing of the conceptual frameworks developed in smart city research. Furthermore, the team found that there was very limited research on crisis management in smart city before 2020. However, the research landscape is changing with emerging literature investigating how smart cities respond to crises and pandemics, and exploring strategies that can be used to tackle swiftly the crisis effectively at both strategic and operational levels.
Directions for future research and practice in smart cities are proposed. If you want to know more and/or seeking for collaboration, please contact Prof Fang Zhao – Associate Dean Research and Enterprise at email@example.com.
Just as businesses are adapting to the shock of Brexit, the global pandemic presents another disruption to businesses. These two events have created huge uncertainty for most small businesses while some have benefited . The striving small businesses are revaluating their strengths with financial metrics to enhance their sustainability as the new markets are emerging. Financial metrics present small businesses with the opportunities to increase efficiency in their operations, liquidity, profitability and stability during uncertainty period. Some commentators argue that inadequate liquidity is the major reason small businesses collapse during the uncertainty period.
The quick ratio helps the business managers to evaluate their businesses financial liquidity. This informs the business managers of how current assets excluding inventories can be quickly converted to cash to meet their current liabilities. This ignores inventory because it is not easily converted to cash. Unlike the current ratio which considers inventory value, the quick ratio is generally viewed as the conservative evaluation of business liquidity as it’s based on the business most liquid assets. For instance, a business has current assets worth £40,000 of which inventory is £10,000, and £15,000 worth of current liabilities thus the business has a 2:1 quick ratio. This indicates that the business can afford to meet the short-term liabilities twice with the short-term assets.
Businesses with a 1:1 or lower quick ratio could be at risk of becoming a going concern. Thus, small businesses with limited access to funds might fire sale their non-current assets to meet the current liabilities.
Many businesses have already closed due to Brexit and the global pandemic and it has been estimated that a further approximately, 98,000 small businesses might not survive the current pandemic. Thus, small business managers that are currently struggling to survive should pay attention to their financial metrics especially the quick ratio.
Unlike the quick ratio, many commentators argue that the current ratio cannot accurately evaluate some businesses short-term liquidity power. For instance, a retail business that targets seasonal customers will stock up inventory for the season. Thus, toward this period the current ratio rises and fall after the seasonal sales. Hence, the quick ratio would be best to evaluation the liquidity ability of such businesses as it ignores the inventory value.
However, other commentators argue that excluding the inventory value from the current assets could be an inefficient way of evaluating liquidity ability for some businesses. For instance, small business such as corner shops that a large percentage of their current assets are fast-moving inventory. Thus, excluding the inventory from the current asset would relatively inflate the current liability. Hence, the quick ratio will present an inaccurate picture of the business to cover their current liability with their most liquid assets.
In conclusion, business managers need to consider both the quick ratio and current ratio, especially during the uncertainty period. This would provide a more accurate measurement of their business ability to pay their short-term liabilities without being forced to fire sale their non-current asset.
Business managers need to ensure that the quick ratio and current ratio is not too excessive compared to other competitors in their sector as this could indicate poor control of working capital. This might suggest that the business is not turning over its inventory quickly enough or is carrying slow-moving or obsolete inventory and has poor credit control practices resulting in their customers delaying payments beyond the agreed terms.
Storm Barratt, Course Director, Staffordshire Business School
never a day goes by, when we aren’t reminded that “today” is National,
International or even Global “something” awareness day or week or month. From
the ever-popular Christmas Jumper day to my own particular favourite – National
Squirrel Appreciation Day (!), from National Allotment week to Fairtrade
fortnight to National Bed month.
these campaigns are designed to raise awareness and/or funds for some serious
and not so serious issues. So, why as a business, would you want to know this?
Firstly, all businesses
have basic ethical and legal responsibilities; however, the most successful
businesses establish a strong foundation of corporate citizenship, showing
a commitment to ethical behaviour by creating a balance between the needs of
shareholders and the needs of the community and environment in the surrounding
area. These practices help bring in consumers and establish brand and company
considered normal for businesses to balance the other stakeholders’ needs with
those of the shareholders during the decision-making process. Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) goes even further, making the general public a stakeholder
and shows that the business wishes to actively improve things for everyone.
business making a profit is still key and, of course, the needs of employees,
customers and suppliers must be satisfied if the business is to survive.
However, Corporate Social Responsibility has become far more important over the
last few decades with consumers worrying about how the products they buy were
made and how companies that they buy from are run. On many company websites
there will be narratives of how they look after the environment and all the CSR
initiatives of which they are a part.
Corporate social responsibility comes in many
forms. Even the smallest company impacts social change by making a simple
donation to a local food bank. Some of the most common examples of CSR include:
Reducing carbon footprints
Improving labour policies
Participating in Fairtrade
Volunteering in the community
Corporate policies that benefit the environment
Socially and environmentally conscious investments
growing popularity of National Awareness Days can tap into these initiatives helping
a company both internally and externally.
One internal perspective is if your employees can see that the business is taking a caring approach, by raising funds for charity for instance, involving the staff may mean that they become more motivated to engage with each other working towards a common goal. In fact, whilst “Wear a Christmas Jumper to Work” day seems an opportunity to raise a smile amongst colleagues as we approach the long dark winter months, the serious aspect is that the jumper wearers are raising money for a great cause.
perspective is using “Awareness
Days” to help a business promote their product or service (all the better if
this can also highlight the CSR approach taken by the company). The issues can make an ideal
marketing tool for a business, providing inspiration for marketing content.
context to an awareness day, a business can plan their content by linking a day
to their product or service, so for example an artisan baker could showcase
their expertise and knowledge during Real Bread Week, or a nutritionist could
use National Allotment Week to encourage healthy and organic eating whilst
promoting their own healthy eating programme.
It’s not just
about direct promotion though. Awareness days can provide a great opportunity
for a business to engage in conversation with future consumers via social media
using hashtags associated with the cause, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This
will allow people to find and contact you, consequently building your audience.
From engaging with employees to good PR to corporate social responsibility, supporting a national awareness day is a great way to show which values are important to you and your business. It can differentiate you from your competitors and allow you to build partnerships with charities and organisations that share your beliefs. With the potential to build trust as well as give a little back, it’s a win-win situation for all.
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The British Academy (the United Kingdom’s national academy for the humanities and the social sciences) has tasked us with investigating the specific challenges that UK business owners faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the strategies that they used to keep their businesses afloat, and how they engaged with financial and regional support.
We are also interested in how best to support members of the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) business community.
To participate in our study, kindly fill the survey below and/or please share the URL with your networks if you know any other business owners:
Ethnic minorities were particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and US, as in some other countries. In particular, the risk of death for some ethnic minority individuals who contracted COVID-19 in these countries was two to three times more compared to white individuals.
This disparity was a result of the underlying social and economic risk factors that ethnic minorities face, such as living in overcrowded and urban accommodation, being employed in riskier lower-skilled jobs, reduced access to healthcare, and structural racism. In other words, ethnic poverty in developed countries is driving higher infection and consequently death rates for ethnic minorities.
Despite facsimile policies that emphasize equal access to education and employment in many developed countries, discrimination remains a critical barrier to equal employment. Several studies have found that both ethnic minorities are called back for interviews 50% less frequently than comparable whites, hired less often for high-skill jobs, and once hired are paid less. Thus, despite the increasing educational gains made by ethnic minority individuals, many are overqualified for the jobs that they do. Ethnic minority workers also often report not being given pay rises and being passed over for promotion.
Another very important driver for the disproportionately high poverty rates among ethnic minority groups is the concentration of such workers in low-paid work. Ethnic minority workers are more likely to work in low-paid sectors with limited progression opportunities and lower wages. Lack of movement out of low-paid work increases the risk of poverty among ethnic groups. In addition, there is generally a lower percentage of ethnic minority workers who are managers, directors, and senior officials.
Business Ownership Disparities
Before the pandemic, BAME business owners were less likely than non-BAME business owners to obtain mainstream business support and in the early days of coronavirus, nearly two-thirds of BAME business owners felt unable to access state-backed loans and grants, leaving many on the brink of financial ruin.
BAME-owned businesses are traditionally concentrated in the sectors worst hit by lockdown such as retail, health and social care, education, restaurants and accommodation.
The economic crisis facing these businesses is aggravated by the fact that they are more likely to hire a considerable number of BAME employees and attract more BAME customers. The significantly higher risk among such groups from COVID-19 implies that these businesses would have had to incur considerable costs to protect their staff and customers.
Ethnic minorities consistently report reduced access to education, lack of social and financial capital, unemployment, low-pay, and poor progression from low-paid sector work. This suggests similar solutions for all groups, which would lead to better-quality jobs and higher pay. However, given that some of the drivers of poverty, such as higher unemployment and inactivity rates disproportionately affect ethnic groups, specific forms of outreach activity and drawing on local knowledge may be needed in these contexts.
Similarly, government solutions to reduce ethnic poverty in developed country contexts include interventions that ensure that education, training and apprenticeships are provided for ethnic minorities as well as schemes that help tackle low pay among ethnic minority workers. There is a need for policies that focus the on education, skills and training for ethnic groups particularly digital, literacy, and numeracy skills. Moreover, policies should also be encouraged that monitor the workforce in relation to ethnicity, which should include the recruitment, retention and progression phases of jobs.
Authorities need to work with employers to provide better-paid jobs and they should do more to listen to and encourage employers to hire a diverse range of skills and experiences. It is advisable to consider putting targets for ethnic minority representation on boards, something that has proven successful in the case of gender. It is also important to recognise the benefits of positive discrimination in the labour market, rather than view legislation to combat ethnic inequality as red tape or political correctness. Mortgage market discrimination needs to be eliminated as this would allow ethnic minorities to take advantage of the benefits that come with owning a home.
State-backed grants and loans should be made more accessible as an incentive to business owners who have incurred additional costs to protect customers and staff. Crucially, the process to obtain them should not be too onerous and the criteria should be fair. Regional governments should also take care to plug BAME businesses into the supply chains of local projects in response to the pandemic.
All these should reduce ethnic poverty and the economic and health inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted.
Olushola Fashola, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business SChool
(2019) asserted that the United Nations estimates that between 2% and 5%
(US$800bn–US$2trillion) of global GDP is laundered. The year 2019 saw global
anti-money laundering (AML) penalties going beyond £6billion (actual value was
£6.2billion which is equivalent to around $8billion), with the US imposing
double the quantum of fines imposed by UK authorities (Sweet, 2020). These facts
suggests financial crimes is on the rise, which is a worrying development for
societies, governments, organisations, and individuals. It is therefore
important that some sort of reflection (collectively or individually) be
undertaken by all concerned regarding how things have deteriorated to current
level in terms of emerging global narrative on financial crime. Consequently,
my own lived experience within a socio-economic and institutional context
offers a basis for looking at financial crime through the multiple lens of
three actors – “the vulnerable”, “the gullible” and “the
years back I was looking through job advertisements on various websites, hoping
to find a flexible job that will permit me to spend more time with my young
children. I did not search too long before I came across one placed by a
supposedly US based company. Though, the role was described as Administrative
Assistant, the job description was more of a home-based funds transfer officer.
Considering that I have practice experience in banking and finance, I quickly
applied and was very optimistic as to my chances of eventually getting the job.
Just as I had anticipated, I was offered the job. However, mode of operation
triggered some curiosity – the company will pay money into my account which I
shall subsequently transfer to various recipients!
unusual nature of the responsibilities attached to this job role sent alarm
bells ringing. I contacted the website where I found the job to let them know
of my suspicion that something was not quite right about this company and the
job. The website’s initial response was to dismiss my suspicion, suggesting
there was nothing unusual about either the company or the job. Whilst pondering
as to the genuineness or otherwise of this job offer, I listened to the BBC
money box programme focused on money mules. This made the connection between this
job offer and money mule operations vividly clear. I contacted the website
again, now aware of the prospect of being used as a money mule based on what I
have learnt from the BBC programme. This time, the response was an apology and
commitment to bar the company from using the website. Prioritisation of
corporate social responsibility can help reduce the chances of financial fraud
occurring (Liao et al., 2019).
I did not allow this company the opportunity to pay any money into my bank
account, I wonder how many people they had successfully persuaded into
accepting such payments through their banks. The banking industry is central to
economic growth and development, but also remains a vital part of the carefully
orchestrated dastardly design of financial crimes’ architecture. The growing
evidence against banks with respect to recurring culpability in facilitating
financial crimes is a worrying trend that compounds erosion of public trust in
them since the financial crisis of 2008/2009. Sanctions imposed on banks (see
below) for offences with a bearing on financial crimes bears testimony to
banking industry’s culpability.
2014: Standard Bank PLC fined £7.6m for failures in its anti-money laundering
controls (BBC, 2014)
2015: Barclays fined $2.4bn for forex rigging (Financial Times, 2015)
2015: HSBC pays out £28m “compensation” to Swiss authorities over
money-laundering claims (The Guardian, 2015)
2015: Barclays Bank (Barclays) was fined £72,069,400 for failing to minimise
the risk that it may be used to facilitate financial crime by the Financial
Conduct Authority (FCA) (FCA, 2015)
2019: HSBC to pay $192m penalty in US for helping clients hide $1billion dollar
worth of assets for tax evasion purpose (Financial Times, 2019).
service regulators may have demonstrated a commitment to ensuring banks do not
act as facilitators of financial crimes through these sanctions, but the
inherent culpability of the financial regulatory system in certain
jurisdictions means that these fines do not address why they have become a
magnet for financial crime. The public prosecutor in the HSBC/Swiss regulator
case as cited in The Guardian (2015) sums up the real source of financial
service industry culpability in financial crime thus:
we have a law that doesn’t punish financial intermediaries accepting doubtful
funds then we have a problem. This problem dates from long before the HSBC affair.”
adept at committing financial crimes often targets the vulnerable. They are
also very clever at deciphering individual vulnerabilities. Unemployment was a
vulnerability ready to be exploited in this case. However, various other
vulnerabilities can be the focus of the ploy of these criminals. For instance,
search for acceptance and love (BBC 2020), desire to help others and outright
greed, are a mix of vulnerabilities often exploited by advance fee (otherwise
called “419”) fraudsters.
or organisations should not think they are above gullibility when it comes to
financial crimes. The website involved in this case is a subsidiary to one of
the major global online platforms. Yet their vetting process allowed this job
advertisement to be placed; and initial response to contacting them laid bare
their gullibility – a failure in their social responsibility obligation to
industry and its regulatory framework remains an important defence line in
society’s response to combating financial crime (Ryder, 2017). A basic line of
defence where banks had in the past dropped their guards is with respect to
“Know Your Customer” (KYC). This important anti-money laundering requirement
needs full compliance for the global fight against financial crime to be
successful. Specifically, a risk-based approach to KYC practice can help
operators in the financial services industry balance regulatory compliance with
business exigencies. Such an approach can help focus attention on potentially
risky clients such as the politically exposed person (popularly referred to as
PEP). The need for some sort of global regulatory alignment to ensure that
there are no safe havens for illicit wealth (Nance, 2018) will require every
nation to review its laws and ensure that loopholes exploited by financial
criminals and their intermediaries are plugged.
triangle comprising of opportunity, incentive/pressure, and rationalization
(Cressey, 1953) had received wide scholarly attention, it is perhaps time we
switched attention to actors whose moral gap facilitates financial crime.
Vulnerability, gullibility, and culpability represents a collection of
attributes that helps financial crime to spread like wildfire and the criminals
that benefit from them to take the rest of society for granted. Hence, the need
for every individual and organization to undertake a self-assessment as to
whether they may be tacitly facilitating financial crime as a vulnerable,
gullible, or culpable actor in a dark web that leaves society morally and