Global risks in the face of social, environmental and technological change

01 March 2017 Consultancy.uk

Global risks related to key social, environmental and technological trends are creating an interconnected web that continues to sow considerable uncertainty for humanity going forward. Migration, climate change and weapons of mass destruction are expected to leave the riskiest mark on governments and businesses globally.

The world faces considerable uncertainties in the face of rapidly developing technologies, increasing income inequality, social polarisation and environmental degradation. In a new report from the World Economic Forum, in strategic partnership with Marsh & McLennan Companies and the Zurich Insurance Group, the current largest scale risks facing the world are explored. The 12th edition of the ‘Global Risk Report’ involved 745 ‘world leaders’ from, among others, business, academia, and NGOs.

Most likely risks 2017 and earlier

The respondents note some shift in their perceived risk likelihood going into 2017. The biggest risk cited is extreme weather events, followed by large scale involuntary migration, a feat which is taking hold of Europe. Major natural disasters come in third. Terrorism has again returned to the consciousness of respondents, with large-scale terrorist attacks taking the number four spot. The number five spot goes to massive incident of data fraud/theft.

The likelihood of interstate conflicts has decreased slightly, falling from fourth spot to ninth. Cyber attacks, estimated to create economic damages of $280 billion per year globallytakes the number six spot, while man-made environmental disasters comes in at number eight.

Most impactful risks 2017 and earlier

In terms of the impact of risks, the use of weapons of mass destruction takes the number one spot in 2017, up from second in 2016 and third in 2015. Extreme weather is the second most impactful risk, followed by a water crisis. Major environmental disasters comes in fourth this year, followed by failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“Urgent action is needed among leaders to identify ways to overcome political or ideological differences and work together to solve critical challenges. The momentum of 2016 towards addressing climate change shows this is possible, and offers hope that collective action at the international level aimed at resetting other risks could also be achieved,” says Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, Head of Global Competitiveness and Risks at the World Economic Forum.

When considering the interconnected map of risks, the research notes three key trends underlying the dominant global risks. These trends are associated closely with human activity, and its structuring by a range of models, over the past decades.

The Global Risks Interconnections Map 2017

The first of the major trends relates to key social themes, from rising income inequality to increased polarisation on political and ideological lines, with key conditions, such as structural unemployment, underemployment and profound social unrest part of the wider web of interconnected risks.

The second major trend to arise from the study is the changing climate, and its potential effects on global stability. The failure of climate change mitigation and adapation has a knock-on impact on wider environmental systems, which in turn affect global stability. Protecting environmental stability, upon which social institutions and biodiversity depend, therefore remains a key theme for humanity going forward.

The third major theme noted by the research is that technology is advancing considerably faster than society is able to transform. Key questions remain about the inherent value of technology itself, whether it is a panacea for market failures or itself an expression of such failures, and the consequences of unabated and market driven technological development. Some of the technologies being developed have considerable risks, from social instability to opening Pandora's box. Progression, does not inherently mean, we progress.

“We live in disruptive times where technological progress also creates challenges. Without proper governance and re-skilling of workers, technology will eliminate jobs faster than it creates them. Governments can no longer provide historical levels of social protection and an anti-establishment narrative has gained traction, with new political leaders blaming globalization for society’s challenges, creating a vicious cycle in which lower economic growth will only amplify inequality. Cooperation is essential to avoid the further deterioration of government finances and the exacerbation of social unrest,” reflects Cecilia Reyes, Chief Risk Officer of Zurich Insurance Group.

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Six attractive professional services firms to work for in UK

23 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Consulting firms dominate the 25 companies named by LinkedIn as the most attractive organisations to work for in Britain. JLL, Engie, CBRE, Atkins, Schroders and GE each made the grade, with the professional services sector putting in the strongest showing of any industry in the UK.

Each year, the editors and data scientists of social business platform LinkedIn examine which firms are the most attractive to job seekers, as well as which are the best at retaining their talent. Utilising information gathered from billions of actions taken by more than 433 million members, LinkedIn leverages a data-driven approach to consider what members are doing – not just saying – in their search for fulfilling careers. The result is the Top Companies list, an annual ranking of the most sought-after companies – now in its fifth year.

Each of the previous incarnations of the list has seen a strong showing from the UK consulting industry, with its contingent including McKinsey & Company, EYBoston Consultancy Group and Accenture in 2018. This year has seen the sector continue to see its stock rise, with the diversity of the sector’s workload buoying six professional services firms which were not on the previous ranking to prominence.

Analysing the anonymised actions of British-based LinkedIn members, the company determined which firms were the most attractive through four main pillars: interest in the company, engagement with the company’s employees, job demand and employee retention. As a result of this, real estate professional services firm JLL was found to be the most attractive consulting firm to LinkedIn members in the UK.

Six most attractive professional services firms to work for in UK

Ranked sixth in the overall list of companies, 2018 saw the commercial real estate services consultancy expand its London-based Ratings practice in anticipation of growing demand for real estate valuations in the UK. JLL, which boasts a global headcount of 82,000, holds UK locations in London, Norwich and Manchester, and the firm was recently named one of the world’s most ethical companies for the 12th year in a row by The Ethisphere Institute. 

Sitting 10th in LinkedIn’s ranking, Engie is a French multinational professional services firm, headquartered in La Défense, Courbevoie. While the firm primarily operates in utilities – specifically in the fields of electricity generation and distribution, natural gas, nuclear, renewable energy and petroleum – its investment in cleaner tech has also seen it come to offer a host of engineering consulting services, including feasibility studies, engineering, project management and client support. The firm’s 19,000 UK staff work from offices in London, Leeds and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

With a global headcount of 90,000, CBRE, which was ranked 13th by LinkedIn, is a real estate advisory firm, with UK offices in London, Birmingham and Glasgow. The firm oversaw the sale of a number of major locations over the course of 2018, including a key residential site in North Leigh, and an office belonging to the British Steel Pension Fund.

Atkins, which was listed 23rd, is a British professional services firm which was purchased by the SNC-Lavalin Group for £2.1 billion in 2017. With 7,300 employees in the UK, Atkins operates from locations in London, Bristol, Kingston-upon-Thames, and offers services in engineering, operations, programme and project management. Late in 2018, the firm was named one of the top employers in the UK for working mothers, receiving plaudits for its innovation in flexible working from Workingmums.co.uk.

Schroders, a global asset management firm with UK offices in London, Bromley, Chelmsford, ranked 24th. Asset management is a fast-expanding segment of consulting, and according to LinkedIn, 43% of the professional services firm’s staff have been at the company for at least six years, while nearly a third of UK roles were filled with internal candidates in 2017. Schroders boasts a global headcount of 4,600.

Finally, multifaceted professional services firm GE was ranked 25th. The engineering, operations, information technology and advisory firm has its hand in everything from energy to health care – where it was recently nominated for a prize at the 2019 Management Consultancies Association Awards. The long-standing conglomerate said 2019 is set to be a “reset year”, while it seeks to revamp its power-related businesses at the same time that it builds on strong growth within the aviation scene.

Other sectors

Elsewhere, the financial services industry saw a high level of representation in LinkedIn’s ranking. JP Morgan was listed in second place, while Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Aviva also made the grade. This represents a decline of one listing since 2018’s figures, perhaps reflecting the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s financial sector, amid the continued twists and turns of the Brexit saga.

Retail saw a slight rebound on its decimation in last year’s ranking. Having seemingly fallen out of favour in 2018, Sainsbury’s returned this year, sitting in third place. It was joined in the top 25 by fellow ‘Big Four’ supermarket Asda – though the news that some 60,000 Asda staff could be in line to lose their paid lunch breaks under new contracts could well see the company drop off the list in 2020. Marks & Spencer also made the list. The historically up-market supermarket now runs a work-placement programme called Marks & Start, which helps single parents, people with disabilities and the homeless to build careers within the company.

Healthcare and pharmaceuticals saw three entrants in the list too. Britain’s 50 fastest-growing privately-owned pharmaceutical companies have all increased sales by at least 10% in each of their last two financial years, facing down headwinds such as Brexit and NHS spending pressures to deliver rapid growth. GSK represented the pharmaceutical sector in fourth place, while Bupa and Johnson & Johnson stood for the healthcare and hospital industry in fifth and 16th respectively.

While the technology sector ultimately hosted the ranking’s top performer, Amazon, the only other sector incumbent was Google parent company Alphabet, in 19th. Salesforce and Dell Technologies, meanwhile, dropped off the ranking, having both been present in 2018.

The oil and energy sector’s representation is supplemented by hybrid firm Engie; however, the sector only fielded two pure-play members. BP, in eighth, and Shell, in 11th, have both spent time attempting to diversify in recent years, prompted by public image crises relating to the negative impact of fossil fuels on the planet, as well declining oil prices and the rising demand for renewable energy. These dynamics have, in turn, led to new skills coming into demand within the companies. 

Finally, the list was rounded off by singular representatives of five separate industries. Representing leisure in 12th was TUI, followed by food producer Associated British Foods (17th), building materials firm Travis Perkins (20th), telecommunications giant BT (21st) and utilities firm Centrica (22nd).