North East England Chamber of Commerce members heard the results of the latest economic survey for Q4 which showed the widening divide between the North East and the rest of the UK in key areas such as employment.
Jonathan Walker, Chamber director of policy said: “There is no doubt the double challenges of Covid and leaving the EU caused significant concern for our members. The results showed some of the lowest ever scores for business confidence and continued uncertainty for businesses due to the impact of low levels of consumer confidence and spending.
Cash flow, UK sales, export sales and investment plans were all reported to beat significantly lower levels than surveys in previous years.
Also speaking at the launch were two senior Durham University Business School Academics Professor Jackie Ford and Dr Janey Zheng.
Professor Ford gave an overview of her research into diversity and inclusion in the retail sector, how it could be improved and barriers to these changes.
Among her conclusions were that some businesses’ staff struggled to consider being more diverse due to it not being a priority compared to other priorities like profitability. She said to have a successful and diverse business in practice, the approachhad to be owned by team leaders rather than being imposed by managers.
Her view was a more diverse culture could be created by identifying barriers and ensuring policies like recruitment and talent promotion were transparent.
Fellow academic Dr Zheng’s research examined the issues of trust and control in relation to Covid. Conclusions from her study included the fact that trustwas generated more easily from informal exchanges rather than strict measures being imposed top down. Trust was also best facilitated by managers giving their team members some discretion over their work environments.
The Chamber economic survey covered Quarter 4 and is produced in Association with Durham University Business School.