Women fight inequality and discrimination every day. They fight for equal pay for equal work. They challenge gender stereotypes in their careers and personal lives. They question unfair social and political norms. They unify under passionate causes, evidenced recently by the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.
With female business builders making up nearly 40% of the global workforce – and heading up 72% of micro-enterprises and 40% of small enterprises in South Africa – any kind of discrimination is unacceptable from a cultural and economic point of view, especially when it involves failure to pay what is owed.
The impact of late payments on small businesses has been widely discussed as an issue that must be eradicated for all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender. But inequality still exists and more needs to be done to eradicate it.
Recent research by Sage highlights that this discrimination doesn’t just impact women in large corporates. Indeed, it identified a worrying trend: female entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from late payments than their male counterparts.
South Africa was among the six regions (out of 11) surveyed by Sage that reported higher instances of women business builders being paid late. Businesses run by female entrepreneurs in South Africa report that 18% of invoices are paid late and 10% of invoices are written off as bad debt.
Small businesses cannot absorb these costs nor the lost hours spent on admin – amounting to R564 000 in South Africa. The result can be disastrous: in the next 12 months, 1 in 4 female entrepreneurs will prioritise chasing late payments to be more cost efficient, and ironically will become less productive. If these businesses are not paid on time, they will also struggle to pay bonuses and suppliers, and will be forced to delay investments in their businesses.
The fact that late or non-payments is a more common occurrence experienced by female entrepreneurs is part of a wider problem. Women report more instances of sexist comments, disregard for their business ambitions and lack of female mentors as significant underlying reasons why there is now a heightened cultural stigma around chasing late payments amongst female entrepreneurs – more so than men.
In South Africa, the stigma extends past culture, with 40% of Small & Medium Businesses failing to follow up on late payments to protect client relationships. Time and resources are also challenges, with 24% of small businesses saying they don’t have a dedicated resource to chase payments and 13% saying they don’t have time.
There is no place for bias in business – all entrepreneurs should be free to pursue their ambitions without suffering the consequences of these cultural barriers that are encountered far too often – regardless of gender.
Now is the time to disrupt and challenge these harmful stereotypes and create a force for good, making sure that small businesses – the engine room of all economies – are paid what they are duly owed for the services they deliver to our economy.
Herman Mashaba To Talk On City Of Jo’burg Job Creation Initiative
Herman Mashaba to talk on City of Jo’burg job creation initiative at 2019 Business Day TV SME Summit.
Leading organisations at the SME Summit
SME Insurance Checklist For New Year
Malesela Maupa, Head of Product and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers, advises SMEs to consider the following factors when reviewing their policies.
Business owners who are planning for the year ahead should not overlook the importance of reviewing their insurance policies to ensure they are adequately covered against insurable risks.
Malesela Maupa, Head of Product and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers says, every year businesses face unique challenges ranging from credit and market risks, technological disruptions, compliance, operational and regulatory risks, amongst others. As a matter of precaution, insurance policies should at least be reviewed or updated once a year.
He advises SMEs to consider the following factors when reviewing their policies:
- Employee movements – if there are any employees who have left or joined the company, ensure that your policy is updated accordingly.
This type of cover normally depends on the role and contribution of the employee to the business. For instance, directors may be covered for Key Person Insurance and Directors & Officers Liability insurance.
- Protest Actions – this year is the national election year and leading up to elections we can expect to see an increase in the frequency and severity of protest actions, riots and strikes. Thus, it is essential to ensure that adequate special risks cover is in place from the South African Special Risks Insurance Association (SASRIA).
SASRIA provides cover to both individuals and businesses against special risks like civil commotion, public disorder, strikes, riots and terrorism at affordable premiums.
- Cyber risks – it is essential to communicate with your insurer or broker and find out if there are any new risks that your business should be protected against. Cyber incidents continue to be a major risk for businesses especially in the SME sector. Over the last couple of years there has been a major increase in the number of reported cyber incidences.
More businesses are now facing increased cyber threats due to their increased dependency on technology, relating to their internal and customer data being compromised by fraudsters. It is therefore essential to have some form of cyber risk insurance cover and/or enhancement of data security protocols.
- Regulatory changes – every year there are a number of regulatory changes that impact businesses directly or indirectly, which may result in fines and penalties for non-compliance.
- Natural catastrophes – the increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather conditions, coupled with intensifying natural catastrophes will continue to have a significant impact on businesses.
Businesses should ensure they are adequately protected against these risks to avoid incurring sever financial losses.
- Business changes – should a business consider moving to a new location, purchasing new premises or venture into new business activities, these types of changes could have a major impact on its risks profile. As a result, the policy needs to be updated accordingly.
- New and Enhanced products – An innovative culture has taken over the insurance industry and ever so often we see the introduction of new products or the enhancement of existing products. Get in touch with you broker to advise you on any new products that might add value to your existing insurance portfolio.
“Reviewing your policy regularly gives you peace of mind knowing that you can focus on running your business effectively, without worrying about unforeseen risks,” concludes Maupa.
Seven Reasons Businesses Should Promote Flexible Working
By Paul Burrin, VP, Sage People
What hours did you work yesterday? Chances are, it wasn’t 9-5.
The world of work as we know it is changing. With new technology making it easier to work anywhere, anytime, the traditional 9-5 is effectively dead.
Having flexibility in their working schedule is now a key priority for employees, helping them to successfully juggle work and personal responsibilities.
In fact, more than 80% of 3,500 employees Sage People polled globally placed importance and value on flexible and remote working.
Valuing a work life balance has become increasingly important – whether this is to meet family needs, personal obligations or just to avoid rush hour – it is clear that giving employees increased control over their work schedule is good for employees, making it good for business.
With that in mind, here are seven reasons business leaders should be embracing the benefits of flexible working.
1. The world of work has changed
The line between work life and home life is much more blurred than it was just a few years ago.
For example, it’s now common for people to demand virtual meetings, the ability to work from home, and even have ‘duvet days’ when required, rather than having to suffer through the dreaded commute for hours every day.
Furthermore, modern work responsibilities are often cross-functional, requiring staff to interact with more people in different time zones.
As a result, constraints on how, where and when we work should be updated to reflect this cultural shift.
Businesses must be prepared to accept that the working world has changed if they want to truly motivate and engage employees.
2. There’s a war for talent
With top talent becoming more challenging to attract and retain, many industries are facing widespread skills shortages.
This means in-demand employees can be more selective – and the desire for flexibility is a key factor.
For example, a recent study found that 54% of people would be willing to move jobs to gain greater flexibility.
Employers who offer flexible working will attract the best talent and will also be more likely to retain these employees for longer.
3. Flexible working boosts productivity
Workforce productivity has become a global issue. Our research shows that employees are typically working only 30 hours a week, which means there’s a whole day when they’re in the office, but not actually working.
What’s more, most people who work a 40-hour week feel they are productive for only 3.75 days out of the 5-day working week.
Revolutionising productivity in new ways, such as giving employees the freedom to work in the way that best suits them, could go a long way towards narrowing the productivity gap and enabling businesses to get the most out of their staff.
4. Flexible working empowers employees, and shows you trust them
Our research also found that workers want to feel valued and recognised, with two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed seeing this as the most important aspect of their working life.
For many, this is more vital than office perks like games in the office or free food.
Giving employees the freedom to work in their own way shows they are a valued and trusted member of the team. It also empowers them to perform to a high standard and be as productive as possible.
5. It supports worker wellbeing
The health and wellbeing of staff has become more of a priority for businesses in recent years, while also being increasingly vital for employees themselves.
Over a third of employees polled (39%) believe HR and people teams could do more to improve wellness at work, with initiatives such as providing fresh fruit or offering a subsidised gym membership now proving popular.
Flexible working can help in this area by reducing stress (no more mad dashes in heavy traffic), making it something companies need to pay attention to.
6. Employees want flexible working
One of the most important reasons for businesses to embrace flexible working is simply because it’s what staff want.
According to Fuze, nearly 50% of workers across all generations want to be more mobile at work, rising to 70% for those aged 16-44.
Employees want to be able to pick up their kids from school, start and finish early if they have international calls first thing in the morning, or be able to head to a doctor’s appointment without fear they may be considered to be slacking.
Businesses would therefore be wise to listen to what their employees want and respond accordingly.
7. Technology has changed
The most straightforward argument for remote working is that staff simply no longer need to be in the office to do their jobs effectively.
Most workers now have all the tools they need on their smartphones and tablets, which means they can comfortably work from anywhere – a coffee shop between meetings, their home, or somewhere they can work undistracted.
For example, cloud technology gives employees secure access to documents externally, while collaboration and communication tools enable staff to work together from opposite sides of the globe.
Isn’t it time the way we work changed to reflect these capabilities?
Ultimately, enabling flexible working should be a focus for all businesses. From aiding talent retention, to creating positive workplace experiences – which is important to 92% of people – the long- and short-term benefits could prove invaluable.
Most importantly, giving employees flexibility will result in a happier, more engaged and more productive workforce.
In an age of continuing disruption and increasing competition, that’s not something businesses can afford to ignore.
Download Sage People’s research on what employees really want from their employers.
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