Trust – an important ingredient towards work/life balance

Dr Bharati Singh, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


This 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 work-life balance.


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.

This 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 corporate life.

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.

In 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).

The Mental Health Foundation, UK has also confirmed that 1 in 6 people will experience mental health issues emanating from a negative work/life balance. Thus, it is imperative that organisations support work/life balance. This can be achieved by:

  1. Clear guidelines by the organisation
  2. Transparent dialogue between employer and employee
  3. Expectations management
  4. Trust across the ranks and not only limited to a few employees
  5. Taking personal responsibility
  6. Conducive work environment
  7. Clear demarcation between work and life

20 years’ smart city research marching on – what’s next?

Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean Research and Enterprise, Staffordshire Business School


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 fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.

Which to use: Quick Ratio or Current Ratio for Liquidity Measurement in business

Status

Mayowa AKINBOTE

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.

Money

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.

STOP PRESS: We are now recruiting for cohort 5 of the Small Business Leadership Programme (free starts 30th March).

Mayowa Akinbote FCCA
Lecturer in Accounting and Finance
Staffordshire Business School
Staff Page: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/people/mayowa-akinbote
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/mayowa-akinbote-33448895

Awareness and Corporate Social Responsibility

Storm Barratt, Course Director, Staffordshire Business School


Almost 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.

All of 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 loyalty.

It is 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.

Image Source: www.growthbusiness.co.uk

For any 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
  • Charitable giving
  • Volunteering in the community
  • Corporate policies that benefit the environment
  • Socially and environmentally conscious investments

The 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.

Another 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.

By adding 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.


Become a responsible leader of global business.

Do you want to be at the forefront of modern enterprise? Our BA (Hons) Business Management and Sustainability course challenges the traditional interpretations of enterprise and will open your mind to a broad range of contemporary themes in business.

Our emphasis on ethical business and sustainability will position you to create long-lasting value for your organisation and you will learn the practical skills needed to become a responsible business leader.

How COVID-19 Exposed The Ethnic Poverty and Enterprise Rift (Participate in Our Research)

Dr Tolu Olarewaju, Lecturer, Staffordshire business School


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:

URL: http://staffordshire.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_50kNUNYOKJFFQNM

Photograph: benjamin lehman | URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/gkZ-k3xf25w | Unsplash

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.

Drivers of Ethnic Poverty

Underlying the drivers of poverty for ethnic minorities in many developed countries are several socio-economic factors which include historical factors, discrimination, educational and entrepreneurial variations, and employment and pay disparities between ethnic groups.

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.

Photograph: Maria Oswalt URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/qFkVFe9_d38 | Unsplash

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.

Solutions

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.

Source: Author

All these should reduce ethnic poverty and the economic and health inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted.

Don’t forget to participate in our research if you a business owner: http://staffordshire.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_50kNUNYOKJFFQNM

Notes: Excerpts for this essay was taking from my book chapter: “Ethnic Poverty: Causes, Implications, and Solutions” available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344725834_Ethnic_Poverty_Causes_Implications_and_Solutions

Fail to plan, plan to fail

Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean, Staffordshire Business School


This morning I was labelled a geek. I don’t mind being called a geek (I probably am a bit of a geek) but what is interesting is that this label was awarded as a result of me sharing a plan on twitter. The plan for my allotment in 2021.

Now I don’t feel that planning makes me geeky – I’m a big believer in planning and the saying “fail to plan, plan to fail” is one that I use often. I plan a work “To Do” list at the end of each working day, a shopping list before walking down to the shops, I plan holidays months if not years in advance and yes, I plan which vegetables I am going to grow at my allotment and which beds they will go into. That way I can be sure that the soil will be right for them, the light conditions will suit them and that everything grows together in harmony to produce bountiful harvests.

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

Planning is a big part of business success – we create business plans, marketing plans and project plans in all aspects of our working life. Without things like business continuity planning, risk management, financial planning, many businesses fail to survive in today’s fast-moving work environment. Students are taught planning not only as part of their studies, but also as part of their own lifestyle management as a student – our students even brought together some tips to share with others in this YouTube video.

Some would say planning has been difficult during 2020 and it’s hard to plan when we don’t know what we will be able to do. I think this is actually all the more reason to plan – if plans didn’t materialise, as so many failed to during 2020, then we suck it up and plan all over again, whether it be a holiday, a birthday, a wedding or a study plan for the year. What has been bumped from the top of the list now goes back into the list again for re-scheduling.

Plans give us hope and they psychologically prepare us, they build anticipation, and they demonstrate commitment. When we plan, we mentally get organised and prepare ourselves and this is a good thing – it saves us from stressing about the unknown, relieves some uncertainty and helps us to cope better

Plans don’t have to be big, they don’t have to be impressive, they don’t have to be written down (although I do get great satisfaction from planning on paper) and they don’t have to be shared. They may not mean a thing to anybody but you, and that’s just fine. I can guarantee that you will enjoy your planned activities far more for having planned them and that you will stress less and cope better with things that challenge you.

Happy planning – you have a whole year ahead of you, LET’S GO!


Staffordshire Business School is a premier centre for business education with decades of experience in providing business courses at the forefront of industry and technological developments. Business planning is integrated into all of our new business courses – click here to find out more.

Coronavirus: The Battle Axe

The coronavirus started in China and spread to Europe and America in the first quarter of 2020 with a “battle axe” on businesses. The leadership of the most affected countries have become Santa Claus with their supports to the households and businesses. Many industries have experienced the offensive side of the coronavirus battle axe while other industries benefited from the defensive opportunities it created.

Industries such as Aviation, Road haulage, Ferries, Steel, Horticulture have all taken the pain of the offensive side of the battle axe. For instance, many of the affected developed countries economies are shut down and consumers are under stay at home policy. These have serious negative impacts on these industries revenue and sustainability investments. To complicate the pain emergency loans support from financial institutions have dried up thus, there are fewer chances of survival without taxpayers interventions. Some commentators are of the view that greener pastures are not guaranteed for the industries that will survive the pain as the new world of doing business will emerge. 

The likes of the e-commerce marketplace (Amazon); pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca and Pfizer); video conferencing (Zoom, Teams and Skype) and entertainment streaming (Netflix) industries benefit from the defence of this deadly axe. The longer the stay at home policy takes more people and businesses start thinking of a different way to sustain their livelihood and businesses from home. Another innovative business opportunity created is the products that many governments make mandatory to be worn everywhere. Although some of these products are reusable, few concerns have been raised about the materials used in the production and the ability to recycle these materials.

This pandemic has brought difficult business operating environment. Many business leaders are worried about how to sustain productivity to increase growth by adapting to the new business environment that the pandemic created. Businesses should protect the workforce with physical and emotional support, empathetic communication, training and retraining of employees in readiness for recovery. They should review their supply chains and possibly arrange alternative sources of raw materials or services. Also, businesses should frequently review the impact of the worst-case situation on the business cash flow and the governments’ tax relief provisions and other supports. Finally, business leaders should consider their business digital transformations by increasing IT infrastructure and digital upskilling.

The Small Business Leadership Programme is provided by Staffordshire Business School and is fully funded (free). Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to boost business performance.

The course lasts ten weeks and the next two cohort start dates are
West Midlands 12th January 3.00 – 4.30 pm
North West 13th January 3.00 – 4.30 pm

Register here https://smallbusinesscharter.org/sblp-registration

For more details see the website
https://smallbusinesscharter.org/small-business-leadership-programme/

Mayowa Akinbote FCCA
Lecturer in Accounting and Finance
Staffordshire Business School
Staff Page: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/people/mayowa-akinbote
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/mayowa-akinbote-33448895

Understanding the supply chain to build resiliency and manage risk

Marzena Reszka, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School

Marzena Reska

Fast forward to the coronavirus crisis, whose humanitarian and human-livelihood costs are still rising, even as it also reveals supply-chain vulnerabilities that many small and medium businesses didn’t realize they had. As a result, building flexibility and resilience in operations has gone from one priority among many to business-critical. In this context, organisations need a new approach to manage supply-chain risk and build resiliency.

In the short term, the concern has focused on the shortages of critical goods or services.  In the long term many anticipate a renewed focus on better quantifying risks, with a mindset similar to buying insurance—by using probabilistic approaches, such as discrete-event simulation, and by redesigning business cases to include potential losses from a lack of resiliency measures. These responses represent a shift in business strategy, with companies showing more willingness to weigh the benefits of investments to navigate future risks against the potential fallout from failing to do so.

The current situations shows that there is need to a much deeper view of the supply-chain vulnerability and exposure to create effective mitigation and business-continuity plans.

Thus, there is a need to work more closely with suppliers to build more transparency through collaboration. However, collaboration is often viewed as a fraught territory, with supplier networks viewed as proprietary, and to create a more cooperative working environment can involve or require a deep change of mind-set. There is no need to disclose every detail to their suppliers, but to effectively perform network planning consider:

  • transparency of inventory levels,
  • capacity,
  • and flexibility

these can give a lens into potential bottleneck issues. The research suggests organisations should begin to tackle issues in a structured way, cataloguing and addressing known risks while improving the organisation’s resilience for the inevitable unknown risks that can become a problem in the future.

Supply-chain resilience requires a risk-aware culture to help an organisation establish and maintain strong defensive layers against unknown risks, as well as respond more quickly in the event of a severe crisis or operational threat. As COVID19 brought to light vulnerabilities in companies supply chains, building resiliency is not only a matter of awareness, but of setting an intent across the organisation, clearly communicating to the entire workforce, and taking tangible action to address the immediate and long-term risks.

Risk mitigation often has an associated incremental cost, and so it is important to align on which risks need to be mitigated and which can be borne by the organisation.

  Supply chain and risk are just some of the topics we are covering on a free course – the Small business Leadership Programme – sign up now.

The Small Business Leadership Programme is provided by Staffordshire Business School and is fully funded (free). Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to boost business performance.

The course lasts ten weeks and the next two cohort start dates are

West Midlands 12th January  3.00-4.30pm

North West 13th January  3.00-4.30 pm

Register here https://smallbusinesscharter.org/sblp-registration

For more details see the website https://smallbusinesscharter.org/small-business-leadership-programme/

Contact Kat Mitchell if you would like a chat Kathryn.Mitchell@staffs.ac.uk


Sources:

‘’Supplying resilience through assessing diversity of responses to disruption’’, (2019), H.Kahiluoto, H. Makinen. (2019). https://www.emerald.com/insight/0144-3577.htm

‘’Supply chain resilience: the whole is not the sum of the parts’’, (2019),  M. Martins se Sa; P. Laczynska de Souza Miguel . www.emeraldinsight.com/0144-3577.htm

‘’Resetting Supply Chains for the next normal’’   2020  
A. Knut; R. Gupta; V. Trautwein                                                    

  ‘’Risk, Resilience, and rebalancing in global value chains’’, (2020), S. Lund; J. Manyika; J. Wotzel, E. Barribal; B. Krishnan; A. Knut; M.

Tax Avoidance and Competitive Advantage

Mayowa Akinbote, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


Apple Inc. (Apple) is a well-known technology company for designing, manufacturing and selling smartphones, tablets, computers and other digitals accessories. Apple has been the world most valuable brand in 2020 with revenue of $267.7 billion (£203.3 billion) and profit of $57.2 billion (£43.4 billion) and the largest public organisation in the United State of America (US) in 2018.

Image Source: Apple Facebook Profile


In 2016, the European Commission found Apple guilty of paying the below 1% effective tax rate to the Irish government in 2003 and that Apple was given preferential tax treatment. This tax advantage was declared illegal and the commission rule that of £12.7 billion in taxes and interest should be paid to Irish government coffers. This amount is equivalent to the Irish National Health budget.
Recently, Apple becomes the most valued traded corporation in the world, valued at £1.7 trillion bigger than £1.5 trillion value of all the FTSE 100 the UK top companies. While Amazon and Google followed Apple as the most valued traded corporations in the US. Some commentators suggest that such sudden growth in value could be aided by tax avoidance deals thus such could create competitive advantages over their competitors.

Tax Avoidance

Tax avoidance is legally bending of the tax rules to gain an undue tax advantage that the rules never intended and creating tax loopholes. Transfer pricing is the biggest enabler of tax avoidance. Big companies like Apple design, manufacture, test, hold patent rights and marketing rights of their products in different countries. This gives opportunities to allocate high costs discretionarily to the country that offers low tax advantage like Ireland thus, profit is channel across borders. The annual global tax avoidance is equivalent to the entire Belgium Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with British overseas territories such as British Virgin Island, Bermuda, Cayman Island followed by Netherland, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Ireland in Europe topping the list of tax avoidance enablers.

Similar to the other multinational companies such as Starbucks, Google, Amazon and Facebook, Apple legally channels 90% all its global profits to through Luxembourg and Ireland before profits were channelled to non-Irish residence subsidiaries to avoid paying taxes. This is not unknown, but the Irish government accept the deal in return for the inward investments and jobs creation. Besides Ireland pride herself as one of the countries with the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe at 12.5%.

In the UK airline companies like tax exile, Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet benefited from tax avoidance for decades. Avoiding paying taxes into the countries where they generate profits hence, reducing the funds available for the development of the key facilities that could save host community’s livelihood especially during this period of uncertainty such as coronavirus pandemic. Regrettably, these companies are also ripping where they did not sow. For instance, the air industry seeking £7.5 billion in bailout due to coronavirus lockdown. They also took the advantage of the government taxpayer-backed general support during the uncertainty period.

Competitive Advantage

Michael Porter explains four generic strategies which companies could adopt to gain high profits over their competitors such as cost leadership, cost focus, differentiation leadership and differentiation focus.

The first two strategies focused on cost leadership strategies are price-based competition in a targeted market. Companies such as EasyJet and Amazon adopt cost focus and cost leadership using both economies of scale and scope to achieve the lowest cost of production to their advantage thus generating high profits with their strategy. These companies rather paid shareholder(s) than to invest in their workforce or pay taxes to the host countries. For instance, at the start of the pandemic, EasyJet paid £60 million of dividend to Monaco tax resident founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

The other two strategies focused on differentiation strategies which require significant investment in marketing and consistent promotion. Companies such as Virgin Atlantic and Apple adopts differentiation leadership by targeting larger markets and positioning their products quality superiority, global brand loyalty uniqueness to the market. Despite, cost reduction through economies of scale, Virgin Atlantic and Apple continue to charge premium prices on its products and services.

Although, none of the Porters’ generic strategies includes the possibilities of tax avoidance creating competitive advantages. However, some commentators believe that tax avoidance increases the shareholders’ wealth and the companies’ value thus, encouraging investors to increase investments with the hope of increasing their wealth. Furthermore, some observers consider that these extra investments enable such companies to oblige their host countries into offering tax avoidance deals in return for inward investments and jobs creation in their countries.

Mayowa Akinbote FCCA
Lecturer in Accounting and Finance
Staffordshire Business School
Staff Page: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/people/mayowa-akinbote
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/mayowa-akinbote-33448895

Discover how accounting and finance underpins modern enterprise in our BA (Hons) Finance and Business Enterprise.

Global Entrepreneurship Week at Staffordshire Business School #GEW2020

Hazel Squire, Head of Department Staffordshire Business School


#GEW2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a collection of tens of thousands of activities, competitions and events aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere to start up and scale a company.

This November 16 – 22, as part of GEW 2020 Staffordshire Business School together with Staffordshire University Innovation Enterprise Zone will be hosting a range of activities aimed at both local businesses and students.

As a nation, the impact of COVID-19 means we are all seeking and finding new ways of doing things. In an effort, to build resilience and come together in leveraging the power of new ideas and innovation we will be launching our Innovation Enterprise Zone https://www.staffs.ac.uk/business-services that will give businesses access to:

  • Skills development and support
  • Researchers, student talent and experts
  • Grants and business support programmes
  • Innovation infrastructure and incubation facilitates

Announced last year, Staffordshire University was one of 20 University Enterprise Zones (UEZs), launched with a £20 million investment by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation. 

Furthermore, be inspired offers a full year of start-up support including: information, advice and guidance from an experienced team of business advisers, regular meetings with industry mentors of your choice, full business processes induction, industry-led specialist workshop sessions, networking opportunities, access to personal growth software, access to personalised legal documentation, a £3000 tax free grant and, as your idea grows, access to investment opportunities. Information detailing how to access all this help will be provided at the be inspired session on Friday 20th November.

Finally, Enterprise Education has never been more important, as it allows us to equip future generations with the skills and mindsets, they need to navigate a world of work that may not even exist yet. Through entrepreneurship activities, learners can gain key entrepreneurial skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, risk-taking and teamwork. Entrepreneurship can offer alternative pathways for young people, improving their skills, employability and life chances, while supporting wider economic and social development.

Thus, Enterprise Education is embedded in to all our courses and as part of GEW Staffordshire Business School will be providing a week of challenging enterprise activities working with guest speakers and the be inspired Graduate Start up Programme.

Here is a list of all our free and exciting activities – to book your place use the links provided in the table below:

MONDAY 16TH NOVEMBER

10-11am Being an ethical business: “Street Kids”
Presented by Dr Andrew Taylor
(Session open to all Staffordshire University students)
11-11.45am         Official Launch of the Innovation Enterprise Zone
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
11-12pm Improving the Customer Experience
Presented by Professor David Collins
(Session open to all Staffordshire University students)  
2-3pm Why SMART goals do NOT work! –
Goal setting to achieve more in challenging times
Presented by David Hyner
(Session open to all) 

*Our Innovation Enterprise Zone is one of the only 20 awards around the UK and is embedded at the heart of our campus, IEZ offers unprecedented access to specialist advanced materials, manufacturing and digital facilities, research, student talent and funding to support and accelerate innovation-led growth.

TUESDAY 17TH NOVEMBER

11-11.45am Advanced Materials Incubator & Accelerator Centre  
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
1-5pm Staffs Got Talent! – Innovation challenge  

*Introduction to our new Incubator and Accelerator facility, what it is and how it supports start-ups and SME’s. Delivered by Kelly Bradley. Programme Manager

WEDNESDAY 18TH NOVEMBER

10-11am The Pitch Competition – virtual workshop
Presented by Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean
(Session for Staffordshire Business School students in Level 5 & 6)  
11-11.45am          Advanced Manufacturing Prototyping & Innovation Demonstrator
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
11.30-12pm Digital Entrepreneurship Research and Practice
Fang Zhao, Associate Dean
(Session open to all Staffordshire University students)

*Whether you are looking for research and development advanced manufacturing techniques or process improvement – hear how we can help you succeed! Delivered by Rachel Wood. Programme Manager

THURSDAY 19TH NOVEMBER

*An outline of the programme, benefits of knowledge exchange and how to get involved. Delivered by Marc Wootton. Programme Manager

11-11.45amDigital Innovation Partnerships         
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
2-3pm Meet the Entrepreneurs: Panel with Q&A
Jane Pallister, Jonathan Westlake, Emily Whitehead
(Session open to all) 

FRIDAY 20th NOVEMBER

11-11.45am Intelligent Mobility Innovation Accelerator  
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
2-2.45pm The Small Business Leadership Programme: Meet the team & overview
Professor Jon Fairburn
(Session open to all)   

*This webinar is an introduction into our dedicated project SCIMIA and other wide support for businesses, Delivered by: Marek Hornak – Head of Employer Partnerships and Enterprise

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