The first economic trends survey of 2020 captures the sentiment of the Cork business community at a time of unprecedented uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic shock. The survey which reports on member experiences during January, February and March asked the thoughts of the business community on their experience of Q1 and the outlook for Q2 2020 on business confidence, the overall operating landscape, skills, threats and opportunities. Of note the data was collected over a two-week period when the pandemic moved swiftly from a concern to a high level threat. The survey also explored the topic of diversity and inclusion in the workplace where we asked the business community their approach in this area.
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
Approaches to Diversity & Inclusion
"In our Q1 2018 trends survey we had asked businesses about their organisational policies and approach to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In our latest survey, we asked these questions again, two years later. Overall, we see an increase in businesses responding with active policies, at 65% in 2020, up from 57% in 2018. From 2018 to 2020, the greatest increase in policy provision has been to facilitate working from home, employee assistance programmes and health and wellbeing programmes for employees. While challenges remain, it is positive to report the increased focus on this area in businesses, and the increase in activity, policies and supports which are key to ensuring diverse and inclusive workplaces." Paula Cogan, President, Cork Chamber
There is a marked decrease in business confidence at 54%, down from 93% in Q4 2019.
"These are extraordinary times. Through our first economic trends survey of 2020, we see the growing impact across the Cork business community. Of stark contrast with previous quarters, we saw a dramatic decrease in those reporting business confidence to 54% from a previous 93%, the first such dramatic shift of this scale since the survey commenced in 2009. While not surprising, this is incredibly concerning."
16 % of respondents expect employee numbers to increase over the next 12 months, compared to 55% in Q4 2019.
The latest quarter also reports 24% of businesses as having open vacancies. In the previous quarter this had been at 39%, while for context 51% of businesses had open vacancies for the same quarter in 2019.