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Why smashing the taboo around menopause makes good economic sense – CBC.ca

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There is a good business case to be made for smashing the taboo that surrounds talking about menopause, experts say. 

Not only has it been estimated that global productivity losses tied to difficulties coping with menopause symptoms at work could amount to $150 billion US per year, they say, but women 45 to 60 represent a lot of buying power for companies savvy enough to market products and services to them. 

In Canada, 45 per cent of the female population is made up of women 45 years and older, according to the latest census data.

Given increased female labour force participation, the women going through menopausal changes now are more likely than generations before to hold senior roles at work, making them difficult to replace, says demographer Jenny Godley.

They’re also more likely to have good salaries and disposable income to spend on things that help them manage through menopause, said Godley, with the University of Calgary’s sociology and community health sciences departments.

LISTEN | Women over 45 in Canada are growing in numbers — and in buying power:

Cost of Living5:01‘Anti-aging’ is out. ‘Menopositivity’ is in.

The marketing opportunity could be substantial, she said, if companies take into consideration both the people who are going through menopausal changes and those in the years to follow.

“That’s potentially a huge or a very large demographic, because we’re living so long,” said Godley. 

This cohort is also becoming more open about their health, she said, including mental health.

“I think we’re just much more aware now of a lot of different women’s health issues and there’s less stigma,” said Godley. “And some of what is associated with menopause is quite often mental, in terms of depression or memory loss or mood swings.”

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) defines menopause as the point in time when a woman has had no menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Though people commonly refer to the time leading up to this milestone as “going through menopause,” in fact, this phase is actually called perimenopause.

Though everyone’s experience is unique, perimenopause can bring a wide range of physical and emotional changes linked to hormone fluctuations, usually occurring between ages 45 and 55. The SOGC says symptoms last an average of seven years, but some women can experience these into their 60s.

Deborah Garlick, right, is the founder of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace. She is seen here on the set of a television production for World Menopause Day on Oct. 18, 2021, speaking to journalist Louise Minchin. (Submitted by Deborah Garlick)

While the best known among them are likely hot flashes, fatigue, anxiety and difficulty concentrating are also among the issues that may impact a woman’s life at home and work, said Deborah Garlick, director of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace, a consultancy based in Nottinghamshire, U.K., that helps employers develop menopause policies.

Because it can be difficult to untangle menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms — digestive problems, headaches and others — from any number of other things that could be going on, women often say they’re surprised to discover that these changes are already upon them — even without the more obvious hot flashes and irregular periods, said Garlick. 

Menopause policies at work

In the U.K., where lawmakers have convened an all-party parliamentary committee to explore the impact of menopause, conversation about the once-taboo topic is exploding.

That conversation has been helped along by prominent British female executives speaking up about the experience, including Liv Garfield, CEO of water utility Severn Trent, and Rachel Lord, a senior executive at investment firm BlackRock.

Even Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, has spoken publicly about how menopause can no longer be kept separate from life in the workplace.

“As soon as senior leaders start talking about it, it gives permission for everybody to be more open about it,” said Garlick.

Simple adjustments in the workplace can help counter productivity loss related to menopause, said Garlick, who consults with companies on creating menopause policies. (Shutterstock/fizkes)

An aging population and tight labour market mean employers can’t afford to lose women during the potentially bumpy years leading to menopause, said Garlick. 

“That’s a very costly experience for employers,” she said, noting that replacing a worker can set a company back around $50,000.

What’s more, said Garlick, menopause is covered by the U.K.’s Equality Act, meaning that employees can bring cases of discrimination related to menopause to workplace tribunals.

Her company conducts about 100 training sessions each month to help managers and other employees be informed about how to support staff who may be experiencing symptoms related to menopause.

‘Tiny adjustments’ go a long way

Workplace adjustments can include simple things, like making sure there are desk fans, breathable uniforms and plenty of cold drinking water available to help deal with hot flashes, as well as having more one-on-one sessions between managers and staff about how things are going, said Garlick.

She recalled the case of one women who was struggling with concentration while going through menopausal changes. Her boss would ask her to do things when they bumped into one another in the hallway. 

“And she just sat down with him and said, ‘Look, this is what’s going on for me. It would be really helpful if I can be at my desk when you’re giving me actions to do.’ And he was so supportive,” Garlick said.

“Actually, the workplace adjustments are usually tiny.”

Consumer product marketing

Outside of the workplace, products geared to women of menopausal age have been conspicuously absent from store shelves, says Sally Mueller.

That’s what prompted her and a friend to found Womaness, a skincare and wellness product company geared to women who are going through menopausal changes.

“Women over … 45, so my age group, we are the wealthiest, healthiest, most active generation to date,” said Mueller, who has a background developing brands for retailers like Target and fashion company Who What Wear.

“So we spend a lot of money, we have huge buying power, but only about five per cent of advertising dollars are spent appealing to us.”

Sarah Kaplan, a distinguished professor of gender and the economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business, says there’s a sound business opportunity in marketing products to women going through menopause. But she argues it could also be problematic if the products are too focused on the ‘cosmetic effects of aging,’ instead of addressing the actual symptoms of menopause. (Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto)

There’s a sound business opportunity in marketing products to women going through menopause, especially since this group has been “traditionally ignored,” said Sarah Kaplan, a distinguished professor of gender and the economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business.

However, she cautioned that an increasing number of products “might fall into the kind of Goop-Gwyneth Paltrow-type of category,” in that they are expensive and sound cool, “but maybe don’t actually do anything.”

Given the stigma around menopause and aging in general, she said, some products may take advantage of the fact that people who are quietly suffering may be “looking for some kinds of magical solutions.”

“There’s a big issue in our society of ageism, and especially ageism against women,” said Kaplan, noting that’s borne out by research showing women are devalued — both in the marketplace and the workplace — as they get older.

“And so there is an increased temptation to want to try to use products that will mitigate against some of the cosmetic effects of aging,” she said. “There’s a risk that these products could be taking advantage of insecurities that are created by social norms, as opposed to actually helping people deal with specific medical concerns, like dry skin.”     


Produced by Jennifer Keene.

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Ahead of election, Macron banks on rosy French economy, new jobs – Financial Post

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PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron will on Monday tout 21 new foreign investment projects in France and a booming economy as proof his economic reforms have been bearing fruit less than three months before a presidential election in which he is expected to run.

During a visit to Alsace in the east, Macron will announce a 300-million-euro ($342 million) industrial project by German chemical giant BASF, one of 21 new projects worth 4 billion euros and 10,000 jobs as part of a drive to attract foreign investors, his office said.

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As the presidential race heats up, his aides are keen to shift the debate away from immigration and law-and-order issues and put the spotlight on the economy, which has been recovering strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the result of all the reforms that were carried out since the start of the mandate,” a presidential aide told reporters.

“Three months before an election, we could have expected investors to be in wait-and-see mode because of the uncertainty of an election. Instead, we see very strong confidence from foreign investors in the president’s economic policy,” he said.

Since 2017, Macron has pushed through a cocktail of supply-side economic reforms meant to boost businesses’ competitiveness, cut taxes on investors and loosen strict labor market rules.

Article content

Critics say he has acted as “president of the rich” who wants to do away with France’s cherished social safety nets and has cut welfare benefits for some of the poorest.

But three months ahead of the April election, indicators show the French economy is booming, with growth expected to have hit 6.7% in 2021 and France having returned closer to pre-pandemic levels than any G7 peer bar the United States.

Macron supporters also received an unexpected boost from economist Paul Krugman on Friday.

“In fact, among major advanced economies, the star performer of the pandemic era, arguably, is … France,” he wrote in his New York Times column https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/14/opinion/france-economy-pandemic-socialism.html. ($1 = 0.8761 euros) (Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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Dollar finds a footing as traders brace for hawkish Fed

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The dollar clung to a late week bounce on Monday as investors braced for January’s U.S. Federal Reserve meeting and raised bets it will chart a year ahead holding several rate hikes, while China surprised analysts with a benchmark cut.

Chinese economic growth data, due later on Monday (0200 GMT), a Bank of Japan policy meeting which concludes on Tuesday, British inflation data on Wednesday and Australian jobs figures on Thursday are also in view as traders gauge the global policy outlook.

The dollar was 0.2% higher at 114.45 yen early in the Asia session, about 0.8% above a Friday low. It also edged about 0.1% firmer on the euro to $1.1403.

The moves follow the dollar’s jump on Friday along with U.S. yields and underscore support for the greenback from the hawkish rates outlook, even if momentum for gains has started to wane.

The U.S. dollar index, which declined sharply last week until Friday’s leap, sat at 95.225 in Asia on Monday.

“Friday’s move suggest to me that the interest rate driver for dollar strength is not dead and buried,” said National Australia Bank’s head of foreign exchange strategy Ray Attrill.

He said it may not necessarily return to drive new dollar highs, but added: “We’ve had a hawkish twist out of every Fed meeting since June last year.”

The Fed meets Jan. 25-26 and is not expected to move rates, but there is a growing drumbeat of hawkish comments coming from within and outside the central bank.

Last week, J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon remarked that there could be “six or seven” hikes this year and billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman floated on Twitter over the weekend the possibility of an initial 50 basis point hike to tame inflation.

The cash Treasury market was closed for a holiday on Monday but 10-year futures were sold to a two-year low and Fed funds futures also fell, reflecting a strengthening conviction in the market of at least four hikes in 2022.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars, which dropped sharply on Friday, remained under pressure on Monday. The Aussie was last down 0.2% at $0.7200, ending for now a brief foray above resistance around $0.7276. [AUD/]

The kiwi edged 0.2% lower to $0.6791.

In China, bonds rallied and the yuan slipped after the central bank cut borrowing costs for medium-term loans for the first time since April 2020, defying market expectations.

Ten-year government bond futures rose to their highest since June 2020 after the move and the yuan began onshore trade marginally softer at 6.3555 per dollar.

Chinese gross domestic product figures due at 0200 GMT are expected to show annual growth at its slowest in 18 months as a property downturn drags on demand.

Elsewhere a month-long rally for sterling has petered out around its 200-day moving average. It held at $1.3669 on Monday, but analysts say it could resume gains if inflation data makes the case for higher interest rates.

“Interest rate markets are currently pricing an 80% + chance of a 25 bp rate hike by the Bank of England on 3 February,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia strategist Joe Capurso.

“A quicker pace of inflation could see pricing move closer to 100%.”

========================================================

Currency bid prices at 0139 GMT

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid

Previous Change

Session

Euro/Dollar

$1.1402 $1.1417 -0.13% +0.29% +1.1425 +1.1401

 

Dollar/Yen

114.4500 114.2250 +0.20% -0.50% +114.5050 +114.2800

 

Euro/Yen

130.51 130.36 +0.12% +0.15% +130.5500 +130.3200

 

Dollar/Swiss

0.9156 0.9140 +0.17% +0.37% +0.9158 +0.9143

 

Sterling/Dollar

1.3665 1.3685 -0.14% +1.05% +1.3675 +1.3665

 

Dollar/Canadian

1.2549 1.2557 -0.06% -0.74% +1.2555 +1.2539

 

Aussie/Dollar

0.7200 0.7218 -0.24% -0.95% +0.7224 +0.7199

 

NZ

Dollar/Dollar 0.6790 0.6810 -0.28% -0.78% +0.6820 +0.6791

 

 

All spots

Tokyo spots

Europe spots

Volatilities

Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ

 

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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China’s Economy Slowed Late Last Year on Real Estate Troubles – The New York Times

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Economic output climbed 4 percent in the last quarter of 2021, slowing from the previous period that ran July through September. Growth has faltered lately as home buyers and consumers become cautious.

BEIJING — Construction and property sales have slumped. Small businesses have shut because of rising costs and weak sales. Debt-laden local governments are cutting the pay of civil servants.

China’s economy slowed markedly in the final months of last year as government measures to limit real estate speculation hurt other sectors as well. Lockdowns and travel restrictions to contain the coronavirus also dented consumer spending. Stringent regulations on everything from internet businesses to after-school tutoring companies have set off a wave of layoffs.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Monday that economic output from October through December was only 4 percent higher than during the same period a year earlier. That represented a further deceleration from the 4.9 percent growth in the third quarter, July through September.

The world’s demand for consumer electronics, furniture and other home comforts during the pandemic has kept exports strong, preventing China’s growth from stalling. Over all of last year, China’s economic output was 8.1 percent higher than in 2020, the government said. But much of the growth was in the first half of last year.

CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

The snapshot of China’s economy, the main locomotive of global growth in the last few years, adds to expectations that the broader world economic outlook is beginning to dim. Making matters worse, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is now starting to spread in China, leading to more restrictions around the country and raising fears of renewed disruption of supply chains.

The slowing economy poses a dilemma for China’s leaders. The measures they have imposed to address income inequality and rein in companies are part of a long-term plan to protect the economy and national security. But officials are wary of causing short-term economic instability, particularly in a year of unusual political importance.

Next month, China hosts the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which will focus an international spotlight on the country’s performance. In the fall, Xi Jinping, China’s leader, is expected to claim a third five-year term at a Communist Party congress.

With growth in his country slowing, demand slackening and debt still at near-record levels, Mr. Xi could face some of the biggest economic challenges since Deng Xiaoping began lifting the country out of its Maoist straitjacket four decades ago.

“I’m afraid that the operation and development of China’s economy in the next several years may be relatively difficult,” Li Daokui, a prominent economist and Chinese government adviser, said in a speech late last month. “Looking at the five years as a whole, it may be the most difficult period since our reform and opening up 40 years ago.”

China also faces the problem of rapid aging that could create an even greater burden on China’s economy and its labor force. The National Bureau of Statistics also said that China’s birthrate fell sharply last year and is now barely higher than the death rate.

As costs for many raw materials have risen and the pandemic has prompted some consumers to stay home, millions of private businesses have crumbled, most of them small and family owned.

That is a big concern because private companies are the backbone of the Chinese economy, accounting for three-fifths of output and four-fifths of urban employment.

Kang Shiqing invested much of his savings nearly three years ago to open a women’s clothing store in Nanping, a river town in southeastern China’s Fujian Province. But when the pandemic hit a year later, the number of customers dropped drastically and never recovered.

As in many countries, there has been a broad shift in China toward online shopping, which can undercut stores by using less labor and operating from inexpensive warehouses. Mr. Kang was stuck paying high rent for his store despite the pandemic. He finally closed it in June.

“We can hardly survive,” he said.

Another persistent difficulty for small businesses in China is the high cost of borrowing, often at double-digit interest rates from private lenders.

Chinese leaders are aware of the challenges private companies face. The central bank is taking steps to encourage the country’s state-controlled commercial banks to lend more money to small businesses. Premier Li Keqiang has promised further cuts in taxes and fees to help the country’s many struggling small businesses.

On Monday, China’s central bank made a small move to reduce interest rates, which could help reduce slightly the interest costs of the country’s heavily indebted real estate developers. The central bank pushed down by a tenth of a percentage point its interest rate benchmark for some one-year loans, to 2.85 percent.

The building and fitting out of new homes has represented a quarter of China’s economy. Heavy lending and widespread speculation have helped China erect the equivalent of 140 square feet of new housing for every urban resident in the past two decades.

This autumn, the sector faltered. The government wants to limit speculation and deflate a bubble that had made new homes unaffordable for young families.

China Evergrande Group is only the largest and most visible of a lengthening list of real estate developers in China that have run into severe financial difficulty lately. Kaisa Group, China Aoyuan Property Group and Fantasia are among other developers that have struggled to make payments as bond investors become more wary of lending money to China’s real estate sector.

Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

As real estate companies try to conserve cash, they are starting fewer construction projects. And that has been a big problem for the economy. The price of steel reinforcing bars for the concrete in apartment towers, for example, dropped by a quarter in October and November before stabilizing at a much lower level in December.

The decline in home prices in smaller cities has hurt the value of people’s assets, which in turn made them less willing to spend. Even in Shanghai and Beijing, apartment prices are no longer surging.

There have been faint hints of renewed government support for the real estate sector in recent weeks, but no sign of a return to lavish lending by state-controlled banks.

The financial distress of Evergrande “is a signal that money will be pushed from real estate to the stock market,” said Hu Jinghui, an economist who is the former chairman of the China Alliance of Real Estate Agencies, a national trade group. “The policies can be loosened, but there can be no return to the past.”

The slowdown in the housing market has also hurt local governments, which rely on land sales as a key source of revenue.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that government land sales each year have been raising money equal to 7 percent of the country’s annual economic output. But in recent months, developers have curtailed land purchases.

Starved of revenue, some local governments have halted hiring and cut bonuses and benefits for civil servants, prompting widespread complaints on social media.

In Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, a civil servant’s complaint of a 25 percent cut in her pay spread quickly on the internet. The municipal government did not respond to a fax requesting comment. In northern Heilongjiang Province, the city of Hegang announced that it would not hire any more “low-level” workers. City officials deleted the announcement from the government’s website after it drew public attention.

Some governments have also raised fees on businesses to try to make up for the shortfall.

Bazhou, a city in Hebei Province, collected 11 times as much money in fines on small businesses from October through December as it did in the first nine months of last year. Beijing criticized the city for undermining a national effort to reduce the cost of doing business.

Exports are setting records. Families around the world have responded to being stuck at home during the pandemic by spending less on services and more on consumer goods now made mainly in Chinese factories.

Some areas of consumer spending have been fairly robust, notably the luxury sector, with sports cars and jewelry selling well.

CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

Few anticipate that the government will allow a severe economic downturn this year, ahead of the Communist Party congress. Economists expect the government to soften its restrictions on lending and step up government spending.

“The first half of the year will be challenging,” said Zhu Ning, deputy dean of the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance. “But then the second half will see a rebound.”

Li You contributed research.

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