A SURVEY by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has highlighted new concerns about the impact of the Federal Government’s carbon tax -- 80 percent of respondents said business had been negatively impacted since the July 2012 introduction.

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Russell Zimmerman

 

About 60 percent of retailers surveyed said consumers had spent less since the carbon tax was introduced and 98 percent said they were not aware of government compensation programs.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said he was not surprised by the findings of the energy efficiency in retail survey conducted in late 2012. 

“It’s a concern that a vast majority of retailers were struggling on a business level due to carbon pricing and were not aware of government compensation programs in place to assist them,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“The introduction of carbon pricing was a massive legislative change for small business and one which has had a significant impact. In a climate of already suppressed retail spending, retailers are taking the hit of the carbon tax as consumers bypass the stores to pay household bills.

“It would appear that the government, although aware that big businesses would likely choose to pass the tax on to small businesses, the carbon tax was introduced without teaching businesses, particularly small businesses how to reduce their carbon footprint — which we understood is the ultimate aim of the tax.

“The cost of doing business has gone up for retailers due to higher utility bills and costs accumulated throughout the supply chain, which eventually fall onto retailers’ bottom lines and hit their customers’ already-sensitive hip pocket nerve.

“Many retailers reported significant increases in their bills, as well as a willingness to consider measures to reduce their carbon footprint such as more efficient lighting. The key challenge is in ensuring businesses are aware of any assistance they can access.

“The ARA is calling on government to provide the funding and information retailers need to cope with the adverse affects carbon pricing is having on their business.

“As the peak retail association for the $240billion retail industry, the ARA is listening to and liaising with government at all levels on behalf of its members in order to deliver much needed information and training to retailers,” Mr Zimmerman said.

www.retail.org.au

SURVEY RESULTS ENERGY EFFICIENCY MEASURES IN RETAIL (Oct-Dec 2012)

The questions and responses to the survey are listed below:

Please indicate how the Carbon Tax has affected your business? Very negative impact- 23.3% Some negative impact- 54.9% No impact- 16.5% Some positive impact- 2.4% Very positive impact- 2.9%

Do you believe the Carbon Tax has affected consumer spending within your business? Yes, consumers have spent less- 60.7%  Yes, consumers have spent more- 1.0%  No, spending has remained the same- 23.8%  Not sure- 14.6%

Are you aware of any government compensation for retailers? Yes- 1.9%  No- 98.1%

If known, please indicate how much your energy costs have increased: Less than 5%: 10% 5 – 10%: 20% 11 – 20%: 30% 21 – 30%: 15% More than 30%: 11% Not sure: 14%

COMMENTS

ARA also presented a collection of recurring comments from retailers who completed the survey:

What Government supplied programs has your business been able to access to reduce energy costs and consumption?  - None that we are aware of. - Did not know that there was one. - None - didn't know there was any. - Haven't been informed of any so far.

Please indicate how the Carbon Tax has affected your business? - Increase in raw materials, all our merchandise is increasing.  - Cost to operate and not quite sure the impact from suppliers at this stage. Too early to assess. - Very difficult to assess the pass-on costs other than in electricity and this is also caught up with network cost increases. - Increased cost of product. Increased expenses. - It has added a total cost of approx $4000 ex GST per year to the operation of the business. - Rising electricity costs. - Business electricity cost have gone up it may only be 10% but it is a cost all business cannot absorb so will be passed on eventually. - Consumer attitude. - Customers have been afraid to spend money. Fuel Prices keep going up, living in the country it is our main mode of travel. My power bill has more than doubled. - Higher delivery costs for stock and those that used to deliver for free now charge a freight fee - Freight and suppliers prices have gone up about 6%. - Power costs up 40% since July. - Supplier costs have gone up and input costs have also gone up.

 

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ONLY eight percent of ASX200 companies have 'truly embedded the principles of gender diversity within their organisations' according to Women on Boards. Those 16 companies were given a 'green light' in the Women on Boards Traffic Light Index launched in Sydney this week - but 31 companies shone 'red'.

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Ruth Medd, chair of Women on Boards.

 

Women on Boards chair and report author Ruth Medd said, "While ASX200 companies significantly improved their reporting on gender balance in 2013, better performance is still eluding many".

New to the Women on Boards green rating in 2013 are Aurizon, Caltex and Suncorp Metway joining the ASX, Commonwealth Bank, Commonwealth Property Office and CFS Retail Property Trust Group, MirvacGroup, NAB, Stockland, Telstra, Transurban Group, Westpac, Woolworths and Wotif.com as the companies leading gender diversity performance and reporting in Australia.

"Unfortunately 15.5 percent (31 companies) rated red meaning they show little or no compliance at all with basic gender diversity principles, while 29.5 percent (59) rated only slightly higher at 2.1, the bottom of the amber category," Ms Medd said.

"So there are 90 companies that could benefit from lifting their game around diversity initiatives.

"The remaining 110 companies - 16 green, 34 amber 2.3 and 60 amber 2.2 - have diversity policies and measurable targets, with the top of the list making real progress and having some very innovative and best practice programs."

It was clear from the research that companies with female directors had better gender balance practices throughout their organisations.

"Unsurprisingly there is a clear disparity in the gender balance practice in companies with female directors and those who have none," Ms Medd said. "Of the red rated companies, 77 percent have no female director while more than 80 percent of the green rated companies have at least two females on their boards."

And progress is slow, according to the Women on Boards research. Of the green rated companies making significant improvements, the number of females in their leadership ranks has increased by two percent from last year.

"We cannot keep ignoring the stark reality that in corporate Australia in 2013 women still receive lower pay, fewer board seats and fewer senior executive roles," Ms Medd said.

"Whether it stems from an unconscious bias, traditional work cultures or simple ignorance, companies cannot continue in this vein. This is why we 'encourage' the companies that are falling short in their gender diversity compliance and recognise those making real progress by publicly naming them alongside their ranking."

Some clear messages came out of the latest Women on Boards Traffic Light Index research.

"There are a number of key factors that need attention," said Claire Braund, Women on Boards executive director.

"Firstly companies need to understand where they are with effective and transparent gender data sets then set rigorous measurable objectives to improve and pay attention to deliverables like reducing the gender pay gap and appreciating flexible working."

Earlier this year, Women on Boards created the Guidelines for gender balance performance and reporting Australia, a practical and relevant framework to help organisations measure, report and improve performance in relation to gender balance.

Formed in 2001 and formally established as a company since 2006, Women on Boards has developed a network of 18,000 qualified and experienced women who aspire to board roles, linking them with current board vacancies and remaining connected with them throughout their career and director journey. Ms Medd said by opening up access to the pathways, the people and the positions, Women on Boards has assisted more than 1000 women to gain board positions, either as professional non-executive directors or by combining directorship with their career roles.

The full report from the Traffic Lights Index plus a best practices document is available for a fee from Women on Boards.

A full copy of the Guidelines and a comprehensive summary of the Traffic Light Index are available at http://www.womenonboards.org.au/

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ALMOST 1000 business bankruptcies occur every month in Australia, according to business consultant and author Donna Stone.

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Donna Stone.

She believes almost 12,000 business bankrupcies a year is an excessive number of businesses going under, and she said a frightening aspect was the inctreasing ease with which bankruptcies were occurring.

The issue and its long term ramifications for Australia form a core section of Ms Stone's new book, Stepping Stones to Business Excellence.

"Bury your head in the sand long enough and before you know it, you are trading insolvent and on the road to bankruptcy," Ms Stone, who heads up Stone Consulting said.

"Bankruptcy can have so many ongoing affects. For some it can mean losing your home and most certainly your business, it can destroy relationships and often it is so stressful, some end up losing their health to heart attacks or suicide.

"Of course if affects the creditors as they are never likely to see a red cent either – forget the old fashioned '10 cents in the dollar' concept of return."

Ms Stone said she felt the only current winner seems to be the insolvency companies.

"I have seen so many cases of bankruptcy, it’s scary and often the business owner could have done something about it, had they just taken action sooner," Ms Stone said.

“The most common reason a business fails is due to the lack of business expertise of the owner – they don’t know what they don’t know and before long are making poor choices, not driving their business in the right direction and generally not focussing on the important things."

After the success of her first two books, Ms Stone is once again sharing her practical and insightful tips with business owners, with Stepping Stones to Business Excellence aimed at those who want to maximise results and profit.

In simple to read, concise tips, Ms Stone aims to help identify the important issues business owners face in this uncertain economic climate and points out how they can make their business lucrative again.

The book has a complete chapter on bankruptcy and how to avoid it.

When asked what her biggest tip would be to avoid bankruptcy, Ms Stone said, “Every business owner should be looking at their figures very regularly and as soon as you start to get into trouble, get help.

"Talk to your business consultant or accountant immediately and start taking steps to get things on track straight away.

"Telling yourself that next week will be better is sheer foolishness, unless you take some action to make next week better."

Donna Stone is the founder and CEO of Stone Consulting, which provides bookkeeping and consulting services to businesses in Australia. She has more than 30 years experience in the finance industry.

Through Money Gemstones and her other books, e-books, audios and consulting companies, Ms Stone has offered insights to thousands of individuals and associations to help grow their wealth and keep their good standing.

The book retails for $29.95 and is available from www.donna-stone.com.au

www.stoneconsulting.com.au

www.moneygemstones.com

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JUST WEEKS out from a Federal Election, a new book by Australian leadership and education experts claoms that Australia's political and business leaders are being severely undermined by a culture of dissatisfaction and complaint.

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Authors of the book will speak in Sydney on August 13, 2013.

In The Australian Leadership Paradox, Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton argue that the problem stems from a misunderstanding about what leadership really is, or should be.

"We blame those in power for not showing leadership yet habitually expect their protection and support," the authors have claimed.

"We're seduced by new leaders but quickly cut them down when they don't have a quick fix."

By working with hundreds of leaders of government, business and community organisations, Aigner and Skelton were able to identify the barriers to effective leadership.

Their book also provides insights into how Australia can develop leadership which is truly inspiring, sustainable and effective, "if we can be honest, gutsy and imaginative enough to do the work".

On August 13, Sydney Ideas will host a presentation by Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton.

The presentation will be followed by a conversation and Q&A led by Professor Richard Hall who is responsible for the University of Sydney Business School's Leadership programs in Management Education.

"Traditionally, social leadership looked to business for guidance, now it's the other way around with many business leaders looking to the social sector," Prof. Hall said.

"Business leadership can no longer be just about delivering shareholder value; it's about delivering value for a broader range of stakeholders."

Prof. Hall said Australians often expect too much of individual leaders when they should be asking, "how can we all contribute to better leadership in our organisations, communities and sectors".

This Sydney Ideas event is co-presented with The Benevolent Society, Social Leadership Australia and the University of Sydney Business School.

Geoff Aigner is the director of Social Leadership Australia at The Benevolent Society.

Liz Skelton is principal consultant with Social Leadership Australia at The Benevolent Society. 

Event details:
What:     The Australian Leadership Paradox
When:    August 13, 6.00pm to 7.30pm
Where:   Law School Foyer, Eastern Avenue, the University of Sydney

Contact:

Trevor Watson: Office 02 9351 1918 or Mobile 0418 648 099.

Rachael Vincent         Social Leadership Australia Office 02 8262 3589.

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BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Glaxo Smith Kline, Shell and the Queensland Seafood Industry Association all feature in a new publication designed to encourage businesses to promote the benefits of science and innovation.

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Sharon Bird

Inspiring industry to inspire Australia highlights 15 industry initiatives that are fostering an appreciation of science in schools, communities and the workforce, and its potential to improve our world.

Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Sharon Bird said it would contribute to how Australians perceive and value science.

"This report offers an insight into the breadth of projects already underway, and adds a human dimension to Australia's science story," Ms Bird said.

For several companies featured in the report, spreading the word about science has led to commercial opportunities that would not have otherwise arisen.

The Minister for Science and Research, Senator Don Farrell, said companies that invested in the promotion of science were setting a great example.

"There is clear evidence that science pays dividends for businesses," Sen. Farrell said.

"It raises the profile of the company, boosts employee satisfaction, and forges relations with the local community. The companies and organisations featured in this publication are making a big contribution by taking science to the people."

The report was developed by Council for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS) with funding from the Australian Government as part of its national science engagement strategy, Inspiring Australia. Minister Bird launched the report this morning at the CHASS National Forum.

The publication is available at http://www.innovation.gov.au/InspiringAustralia

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WHAT FACTORS contribute to and hinder small business success? Are they similar for franchised and independent small businesses? Have these factors changed since the onset of the Global Recession in 2008?

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Professor Lorelle Frazer, Griffith University

These are questions a Griffith University study has answered empirically for the first time.

New research, conducted by Griffith University's Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence, compared surviving and failed small businesses during uncertain economic times in Australia from 2010 to 2012.

Centre director and lead researcher, Professor Lorelle Frazer, said the research revealed that failed business owners did not attribute economic uncertainty as being any more detrimental to their businesses than did survivors.

"Key differences between surviving and failed businesses tend to be internal factors, such as personality, adaptability and decision-making autonomy, rather than economic conditions alone," Prof. Frazer said.

"Failed business owners are more likely to be motivated to enter business due to circumstances beyond their control, such as ‘buying themselves a job' to avoid a negative situation like being unemployed or having no income, rather than based on being proactive towards business success.

"They were also more likely to be in partnership with someone as opposed to sole owners, which may explain why they feel restricted in decision-making and, to a certain extent, less adaptable."

The research reveals failed business owners tend to be older, have lower levels of formal education, feel they were forced into business ownership and be more likely to have a prevention-focused rather than be proactive towards success.

Alternatively, surviving business owners tend to be younger, hold higher levels of formal education, have greater levels of autonomy and adaptability, lower levels of debt, less access to finance and a better work-life balance.

While there was no significant difference in start-up costs between survivors and failed business owners, the percentage of start-up costs that were borrowed was greater by failed businesses.

"This indicates access to finance may not always support business survivability, as it may lead to higher levels of debt, which can be harder to service when times get tough," Prof. Frazer said.

"A better understanding of contractual obligations is also an area identified in the research as requiring greater attention from both franchisees and independent business owners."

The research was funded through an Australian Research Council Linkage grant with the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and Franchise Council of Australia.

The research team included Centre deputy director, Associate Professor Scott Weaven and Centre researcher Prof. Debra Grace.

The full ‘Survival of the Fittest' research report can be downloaded at:

http://www.franchise.edu.au/survival-of-the-fittest-research.html

 

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The Farsight Award for 2012/13 has been awarded to the CA Cheuvreux group for the for their "outstanding report" Luxury Goods: Sustainability Sector Profile.

On March 19, 2013, the Farsight Award was presented to Stephane Voisin and his Sustainability Research and ESG team at CA Cheuvreux during the Sustainable City Awards ceremony at Mansion House.

Supported by Gresham College, Z/Yen Group and Long Finance's London Accord, the Farsight Award honours the best individual piece of analysis by an investment research institution that integrates traditional financial analysis with longer-term environmental social and governance (ESG) issues such as climate change, resource scarcity, corporate governance and human capital.

The award rewards excellence and innovation in financial research integrating ESG aspects. The Farsight Award is one of 12 award categories in the Sustainable City Awards organised by the City of London Corporation.

 The judges convened in January 2013 to discuss 95 investment research reports. They were extremely pleased by the high quality of the research submitted and by the wide range of ESG issues explored.  

Authored by Philippe Cornet, Luxury Goods: Sustainability Sector Profile (March 2012) finds that the Luxury Goods sector's endorsement of sustainability is mainly triggered by reputational risk mitigation.

The report explores how 130 major brands are managing the challenge of controlling reputational risk while seeking to meet growing demand. 

In particular, it analyses the implications and potential risks presented by key ESG issues such as raw materials, brand stretching, subcontracting, purchasing and producing in Asia.

The judges found that CA Cheuvreux winning report addressed an original topic and provided a useful analysis.

Pierre Stiennon, one of the judges, said: "The Cheuvreux luxury report is innovative in that it sheds light on a number of specific sustainability issues that have generally been left in the dark so far.  

"The report is compact in size, wide in the topics addressed and it is specific in assessing stock implications.

"It is a good example of a well-integrated report where one sector falls under the microscope of a sell side research team. The report will be of interest to long-term investors as well as to those who want to learn more about the sustainability drivers in the luxury sector."

It is the second time CA Cheuvreux has won a Farsight Award. The group won in 2008 with Utilities vs Carbon: Phase II

CA Cheuvreux received a trophy and will also be given a lecture opportunity with Gresham College as well as receiving recognition from the Long Finance and London Accord communities.

The judging panel decided to commend highly two additional reports:Bank of America Merrill Lynch for their report Less Is More: Global Energy Efficiency; and Deutsche Bank for Foreign Investment In Farmland: No Low-Hanging Fruit.

The criteria for the Farsight Award incluedes originality; quality; readability and clarity; sophistication and depth; and financial usefulness.  

This year, the judges evaluated 95 reports exploring a range of topics including climate change, water, energy and energy efficiency, environmental regulation and policy, education, healthcare, demographics, SRI, microfinance and impact investing.

These reports are all accessible free of charge on the London Accord section of the Long Finance website.

 

Four other reports were also shortlisted out of the 95:

¨      Bank of America Merrill Lynch - The Global Water Sector.

¨      CA Cheuvreux - Bribery & Corruption.

¨      Deutsche Bank - LT Asset Return Study: A Journey Into The Unknown.

¨      HSBC - No Water, No Power: Is There Enough Water To Fuel China's Power Expansion?

 

The judging panel for the Farsight Award 2012/13 comprised:

¨      Alice Chapple, director, ImpactValue;

¨      Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson, director, The Lokahi Foundation;

¨      Jan-Peter Onstwedder, managing director, Risk Management, Institutional Clients Group, Citi;

¨      Melissa Brown, partner, Daobridge Capital Limited;

¨      Pierre Stiennon, senior financial analyst - Responsible Investment, AXA Investment Managers;

¨      Ouafaa Karim, director, Responsible Investment Association Australasia;

¨      Simon Mills, principal policy officer for Sustainable Development, City of London Corporation;

¨      Professor Michael Mainelli, executive chairman of Z/Yen Group Limited, who also chaired the panel of judges.

 

Professor Mainelli said: "Long Finance and the London Accord are impressed with the way the investment research community continues to develop environmental, social and governance issues in both breadth and depth. 

"We hope the financial community's 2013 viewpoint, contained in nearly 100 high quality reports, helps policy makers on subjects ranging from long-term asset management to long-term water management."

 

Farsight Award - previous years' winners:

¨      2011/12: Responsible Research - The Future of Fish in Asia.

¨      2010/11: Bank Sarasin - The World in a Dilemma between Prosperity and Resource Protection.

¨      2009/10: Société Générale - Green New Deal.

¨      2008/09: Credit Suisse - The Inconvenient Math: The Implications of Costed Carbon and More Inconvenient Math.

¨      2007/08: CA Cheuvreux - Utilities vs Carbon: Phase II.

¨      2006/07: Citigroup - Towards Sustainable Mining.

 

The report can be downloaded at:

http://www.longfinance.net/programmes/london-accord.html?id=636

http://www.longfinance.net/programmes/london-accord.html

http://www.longfinance.net/la-reports.html

 

About Gresham College

Gresham College was founded by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1597 and is an independently funded educational institution supported by the Mercers' Company and the City of London. Based in Barnard's Inn, Holborn, in the centre of London, it has provided free lectures for the past 400 years delivered by its eight professors of astronomy, commerce, divinity, geometry, law, music, physic and rhetoric, and initiated the Royal Society. The lectures were established by Sir Thomas, a leading London merchant who founded the Royal Exchange, and are designed to engage Londoners in research and intellectual debate on matters which concern the city. Professors have included Robert Hooke, Sir Christopher Wren, Professor Colin Pillinger (Beagle-2 expedition to land a craft on Mars), renowned mathematician Sir Roger Penrose and Templeton Prize winner Professor John Barrow.

www.gresham.ac.uk

 

About Z/Yen Group Limited

Z/Yen is the City of London's leading commercial think-tank, founded to promote societal advance through better finance and technology. Z/Yen "asks, solves and acts" on strategy, finance, systems, marketing and intelligence projects in a wide variety of fields. Z/Yen activities include the development of an award-winning risk/reward prediction engine, which helped a global charity win a good governance award; and benchmarking transaction costs across global investment banks. Z/Yen produces a wide variety of research, including the Global Financial Centres Index. Z/Yen creates and leads communities of interest, such as the Long Finance and London Accord communities with Gresham College and the City of London Corporation.

www.zyen.com

 

About Long Finance and the London Accord

Long Finance aims to improve society's understanding and use of finance over the long term. Long Finance runs four programmes - the London Accord, Financial Centre Futures, Meta-Commerce and Eternal Coin - as well as hosting and promoting a series of lectures, discussion events and research publications.  The initiative began with a question -­ "when would we know our financial system is working?" - and seeks to challenge a financial system that revolves around short-term thinking and practices. Long Finance is supported by the City of London Corporation, Gresham College and Z/Yen Group.

http://www.longfinance.net

 

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Contact Us

 

PO Box 2144
MANSFIELD QLD 4122