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Half Of Americans Plan To Shop On Small Business Saturday – CBS Pittsburgh


NJ Companies Face Labor Shortage As Holiday Season Begins


NEW JERSEY — The “Help Wanted” signs are everywhere. From restaurants to stores to service companies, employers are searching for workers to fill shifts and serve customers.

While the unemployment rate in New Jersey continues to be higher than the national rate, sitting at 7.0 percent for October according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, finding workers to fill positions continues to be a challenge as the economy recovers from the shutdowns and disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the holiday season heating up, the need to fill jobs is becoming more acute. The question of whether companies — especially retail stores, restaurants and bars — will be able to adequately fill positions remains.

The labor shortage has vexed New Jersey employers for months, prompting an increase in wage and benefit offerings to convince people to join their companies.

Amazon, which has seen its business continue to skyrocket as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, is advertising wages of $20 per hour or more, with sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000. A full array of benefits, including a $110 gift card to Zappos to buy work shoes, are available.

UPS, which yearly hires seasonal workers to help deliver the onslaught of packages as people continue to lean heavily on online shopping, is advertising $17 per hour, with the possibility of full-time positions.

Retailers are paying above minimum wage at many New Jersey stores, and offering health benefits, signing bonuses and college tuition payments to try to draw workers.

Macy’s is advertising “competitive hourly rates, schedules to meet your availability,” an increase for working weekends, and opportunities to get hired permanently, in its ad on Simply Jobs. Burlington Stores is offering health and dental benefits and access to a 401k to its part-time hires.

Costco is paying workers more than $16 per hour for cashiers. According to Glassdoor, which allows employees to post anonymously about their workplaces, Target has been paying cashiers $13 per hour in New Jersey, and Best Buy is advertising $15 per hour.

Employers are facing an uphill battle, in part because of Baby Boomers who have retired from the workforce, and because of what economists are calling “The Great Resignation,” where younger workers are leaving jobs at a high rate for jobs that pay more or offer better benefits.

Labor force participation for the entire working age population declined from an annual average of 67 percent in 2000 to 63 percent in 2019, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. This partly reflects a steep drop in participation among 16- to 24-year-olds (from 66 percent to 56 percent) as young people increasingly pursued schooling rather than employment, the Pew report said.

The Baby Boomer population, which had been powering the labor supply, has decreased its participation significantly. The Pew analysis said that as of the third quarter of 2021, 50.3 percent of U.S. adults 55 and older had retired, an increase over the third quarter of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic, when it was 48.1 percent of those adults.

Over the last two years, more than 3.5 million adults 55 and older have retired, the Pew report said.

Add to the retirements the increasing number of people resigning from jobs. In September, there were 4.4 million resignations submitted nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those, 603,000 were in the Northeast. The bureau said the figure is a series high.

Many of those resignations are due to the increasing ability to change jobs. That and the ability to pick the better offer are factors making it difficult for employers to hire and keep workers, even as New Jersey’s unemployment remains higher than the national average.

Danny Nelms, president of the Work Institute, told the Wall Street Journal that the high number of people resigning from jobs is part of why so many employers are struggling to fill positions.

“This [pandemic] has been going on for so long, it’s affecting people mentally, physically,” Nelms said. “All those things are continuing to make people be reflective of their life and career and their jobs. Add to that over 10 million openings, and if I want to go do something different it’s not terribly hard to do.”

Resignations aren’t limited to workers who have the least time working for a company, however. The Wall Street Journal report said research from workforce analytics company Visier Inc. found resignations were up nearly 40 percent even among people who were 40 to 50 years old, in a look at data from 50 large U.S. companies.

What will this mean for shoppers and holiday revelers? It will mean everyone will need to be a little more patient with retail workers and restaurant workers, which are among the industries seeing the most turnover, the Wall Street Journal report said.

2021 Black Friday: Best Christmas tree deals


Morning Consult released the results of a 2020 poll which showed that two-thirds of adults prefer artificial trees to real ones. Compared to other generations, Baby Boomers, had the highest level of favorability for artificial trees, followed by Generation Z. It is interesting that the highest levels were recorded by the youngest and oldest generations in the United States.

How do regional preferences for artificial versus real Christmas trees vary?

Region Buy real tree Don’t celebrate Christmas Buy ariticial tree Reuse artificial tree
Northest 24% 17% 14% 45%
Midwest 11% 15% 11% 63%
South 16% 15% 10% 59%
West 21% 18% 16% 45%

Source: Morning Consult

Where can I find a Black Friday deal for an artificial tree?

For those looking to purchase an artificial tree this year, some businesses are offering Black Friday deals. Morning Consult also found that most shoppers, seventy-eight percent, plan to do their Black Friday shopping online. Most will be happy to know that retailers are offering online deals on artificial Christmas trees.


Michaels, the store which is most commonly known as a craft retailer is also a major seller of artificial trees. Michaels will be offering deals for trees over the next week. One of the best deals is a seven-foot pre-lit option for $79.99.


Target will include many artificial Christmas trees in their Black Friday deals. Depending on the size and light features, customers will be able to trees between $20 and $4,000. The trees can be purchased in-store or online and will qualify for the deal.


In anticipation of Black Friday, Walmart has already released the details of which trees will be discounted during the day of deals. Customers will be able to find pre-lit and non-lit trees as a part of the promotion.

Are artificial trees most environmentally friendly than real Christmas trees?

Many households opt for artificial trees believing that it is more environmentally friendly.

While there is a release of carbon from the decomposition of a real Christmas tree, it does not compare to the environmental impact that creation of an artificial one has. Science Focus took a look at this comparison and found that the artificial option will release around forty kilograms of carbon dioxide, while the real tree “that ends up in a wood chipper or bonfire has a carbon footprint of 3.5kg of carbon dioxide.” If it ends up in a landfill, the CO2 calculation jumps to sixteen but it is still far less than that of an artificial tree.

The scientists who examined the difference say that for an artificial tree to make up the difference the household would need to use the tree for “12 years to make it greener than a real tree that was burned.”

‘Baby bust’? Why these two crises are to blame


A new Pew Research survey shows a growing share of non-parents say they want to stay that way.

MINNEAPOLIS — Blame the twin crises: public health and economic. Both crises combined have led us to believe that there was a ‘baby bust’ on the horizon.

Now, new numbers from the Pew Research Center show that a growing share of U.S. adults who don’t already have kids are saying they’re probably never going to have them.

The numbers weren’t too great from the beginning to start with.

In 2018, 37 percent of non-parents ages 18 to 49 said they were likely not going to have children. In the most recent survey, that share grew to 44 percent.

Professor Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, whom we connected with in the beginning of the year, called this “classic crisis human behavior.”

“When times are tough — when there is uncertainty and insecurity about what the future holds — that’s when people decide to pull back, and either delay having children or reduce the number of children they plan to have,” Cohen said. 

The reasons behind those decisions are diverse.

“Getting careers established, finding a stable long-term partner, and as this Pew Research shows, people reducing the number of children they do want to have,” he said. “The most common reason the people in this survey said they were not going to have more children was because they didn’t want to.”

“We tend to think in practical terms, ‘Oh, it must be the cost of children, cost of housing, difficulty finding a partner.’ I think this is interesting because the desired number of children are going down also, and I think it’s reasonable,” Cohen continued. “It doesn’t mean people love children less. If they want to have one instead of two, it signifies a changing ideal of family structure and set of relationships people want to have in their lives.”

And although not a huge slice of the pie, those who said they likely weren’t going to have kids, cited “the state of the world” (9%) and climate change (5%) as their reasons.

“‘If you want to have an impact on climate change, not having a child makes a pretty big impact,” Cohen said. “I’m not recommending that people don’t have children, but I think reducing the number of children you have are going to have a lot bigger impact than other things people do.”

So, how does Minnesota look?

Compared to the peak fertility rate that we saw in 2006, of 2.16 births per woman, that number this year is 1.86, according to senior demographer Megan Dayton at the MN state demographic center.

That may be because there are short term positive effects on low birth rates.

“When people either delay or forgo having children, the per capita income increases; people’s family’s cost of child rearing are lower, boosting the share of working age people. In the short term, that’s good,” Dayton said.

Long term though, there are economic implications.

“We have the baby boomers already exiting the labor market, and so the implications are in the labor force participation rates begin rapidly declining,” Dayton said. “So in the long run, low rates of fertility are associated with diminished economic growth.”

So we always come back to the question of: Should we be worried?

Should we follow in the footsteps of other countries where they’ve incentivized potential parents by removing barriers to raising a child, like universal childcare?

At this point, both Cohen and Dayton pointed out that we are not running out of people, especially because migration into the state — and immigration into the country — is also keeping numbers robust. 

The Blurred Lines of Personal Environmental Responsibility and Convenience


Generation Z, with advances in technology and production methods, face complications over the environmental awareness also growing. With both consumerist and environmentalist actions at odds, the question arises about effects of either type of actions.

There is a strange dichotomy between how many individuals, such as Gen Z, care for the environment and how enamored society is with convenience today. 

People can reuse every glass jar in sight and religiously use a metal straw and still Doordash orders that will never see the light of day once the disposable containers are consumed from. 

At worst, one might be called a hypocrite, but these actions aren’t so far from potentially being one’s best efforts.

Regardless of each attempt to do well for the environment, the maintenance of a sustainable lifestyle undoubtedly collides with the tempting nature of today’s consumerist society. 

This is tricky territory because this latter route is oftentimes out of how entrenched society is in convenience which, in turn, is exacerbated by the allure of everything being available and pretty on our doorsteps within days or minutes.

This is not to say that sustainability can’t be quite attractive on the exterior. Stringing along little tote bags to Trader Joe’s or thrift stores is as trendy and decorated as it is reusable. 

They no longer stem just out of necessity, either; it’s preferable to many.

UC San Diego offers green plastic tupperware containers in dining halls and sustainable alternatives like the student compost garden along with as many recyclable containers as trash containers. 

Many ask if these green acts along with other individual moves are enough to come close to collectively offsetting or affecting the big, carbon-emitting companies and corporations. And if they aren’t, the question arises of whether people should feel the need to engage in productive, environmentally-inclined ways.

It is not surprising that the jadedness individuals feel about their personal contributions for the environment isn’t exactly decreasing. 

Though the COVID-19 pandemic went on to halt activity for factories and flights for more than a year, this, apparently, still has done little to lower global temperatures.

Either way, any “fix” wouldn’t have been sustainable in the long run when the goal was to tackle the pandemic, not to use the pandemic and the harm it wreaked against people to lower the insidious environmental emissions. 

According to a Pew Research Center report back in May, Generation Z and — a bit less so — Millennials see the climate as the top priority for future generations. They have engaged with discussions and social media posts on climate change, support phasing out the use of oil, gas, and coal more than previous generations, and have felt more anxiety in regards to climate concerns. 

There are also partisan divides: younger Democratic-leaning individuals ended up more likely than Republicans to support climate change action, although younger Republican-leaning individuals were found less likely than their older counterparts to support expanding fossil fuel sources. 

The report also states that those very strongly concerned about the climate believe that human activity contributes a lot to climate change than other less concerned groups, which might explain their more hands-on, invested approach to climate change.

In a Vox interview back in 2018 held by reporter Gaby del Valle with Richard Heede, the co-founder and co-director of the Climate Accountability Institute, which is behind the Carbon Majors report. Heede acknowledges that 100 companies are behind almost all greenhouse gas emissions. He established this report back in 2013 to showcase how fossil fuels have increased since 1988.

“This report looks at industrial carbon dioxide and methane emissions deriving from fossil fuel producers in the past, present, and future,” Heede wrote in the report. “In 1988, human-induced climate change was officially recognized through the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since this time, the fossil fuel industry has doubled its contribution to global warming by emitting as much greenhouse gas in 28 years as in the 237 years between 1988 and the birth of the industrial revolution.”

It seems that while personal action for the environment stirs polarizing conversation about whether it is beneficial or not, those that feel more environmentally conscious are more inclined to do more. 

In other words, though corporations engage in most of the dirty work when it comes to fossil fuel emissions, our choices in regards to sustainability still reflect what we can’t help but see —or also desire to see in our environment. 

Comedian and commentator Bill Maher acknowledges the environmental inclination of Gen Z, but he might describe one engaging in consumerism and convenient purchases on top of this environmental consciousness as hypocritical.

After all, a couple of weeks ago, as part of his “Real Time with Bill Maher” show that focuses on mostly political conversation with guests, he asserted in a video, “New Rule: OK, 

Zoomer,” that today’s lavish lifestyle versus the environmentally attuned are two starkly different lifestyles that cannot coincide; it’s one or the other. 

He references young billionaire Kylie Jenner as the opposite of carbon neutral, but also how she has many, many more followers on Instagram than the alsoyoung environmentalist, Greta Thunberg. 

“We get it. Boomers dropped the ball on the environment …We dropped it like it was hot … But have you picked it up?” Maher said. 

To him, there is an overlap of Gen Z and the Baby Boomer generation — an overlap that insists on reaping the benefits one can now. But this argument is also tricky, not just because it’s displeasing for Gen Z or Baby Boomers to perhaps want to hear.

For instance, Lauren Singer, a New York University alumna, is well-known for her efforts in keeping all of her trash for the year in a small mason jar among other things in the zero-waste movement, a lifestyle to conserve waste. 

And though she never dictates this is the way sustainability must be as much as it is one’s best efforts, the lines may get blurry as to what’s convenient and possible versus what’s unsustainable and problematic. 

“I would never impose my lifestyle on anyone else, whether it be coworkers, friends or family,” Singer told the Huffington Post. “I respect everyone’s personal decisions and don’t go off telling people about how I live unless they ask and are interested. However, if we ever were to have a physical office, I would make it zero-waste.”

This idea is especially true when both arenas — the wasteful and the more environmentally conscious — coexist. 

Can one be a proponent for recycling and campus organizations like CALPIRG and still passively enjoy Jenner’s Instagram story on her mink fur slides amongst other luxury pairs in her opulent abode? Where can the line between choosing the route of sustainability and warding off many consumerist pursuits even if they are convenient be drawn?

Sustainability requires deliberation even if it’s not necessarily more expensive: the kind of packaging to choose, method of transportation, voting choices, etc. 

As an example of how this issue isn’t so black and white, some say that the conversation against single-plastic items like straws is a trivial distraction for companies to feel good while others say it at least triggers the conversation of biodegradable versus non-biodegradable products.

Like Singer implies, such may not matter as long as people put their best foot forward for the environment, but this also means awareness. 

The COP26 climate change summit took place in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, in which U.S. climate envoy John Kerry dubbed the 26th conference as the “last best hope for the world.”

The goal of the summit is to cut carbon and aid less-developed countries in reaching their goals without economic hardship — part of getting the Paris Climate Accord up and going more efficiently.

In the Atlantic article, the author predicts that Democrats in Congress will make an even bigger decision, which is the decision to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act. Robinson Meyer, the staff writer for The Atlantic and author of The Weekly Planet, criticizes the UN’s lack of changes to domestic policy to combat climate change. 

But Meyer ominously says that the failure of Biden’s act would be problematic as people will become jaded with the U.S.’ incompetence in addressing climate change properly.

Heede’s focus on how action can still be in the homefront echoes more of what Meyer said about the realm of domestic policy. Heede also states that neither of two areas —one that says making individual choices is futile and the other that says one should do everything they can —is enough. 

There is more to do such as voting for more renewable energy and even making individual, symbolic moves for the environment that are simply right by ourselves and grandkids.

“There needs to be structural change on a government level that is then implemented systematically. I don’t think the onus is all on the individual, but I also think it’s a bit hypocritical to entirely blame corporations when these corporations exist mostly because of the consumer want for their product. We’re all tied together, so that’s why the changes need to be on a broader, more systemic level,” Nicole Manley, a junior at John Muir College, said. 

Sending and keeping emails requires fossil fuels. Engaging in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency requires fossil fuels — a lot of them. 

In fact, the footprint of this mining for cryptocurrency is more than the carbon footprint of the United Arab Emirates with the power required for it being the reason why it’s connected to the least expensive and least-regulated sources of energy. Younger folks are engaging in this virtual arena more than ever. 

Beloved celebrities, like Rihanna, and their promotion of their lines and products caters to Generation Z, but oftentimes it’s also neatly wrapped by the bow of fast fashion and dialogue of profit over adequate pay to those bearing the burden of production. 

In the same vein, online sites like Shein are so ubiquitous and cheap with prices that the same top selling on the site can end up at a thrift store with no certainty that it will actually be sold — even if these secondhand shops are widely popular.

Standing by celebrities or products behind major, carbon-emitting items can be both seen as a way to obtain affordable products or a way for today’s generation to be another cog in consumerism’s wheels.

Gen Z  is undoubtedly more environmentally conscious than the generations that came before. It is undeniable that the generation is more likely to see and reap the fruits,or lack thereof,of what they take. But this is also a time where the intoxicating allure of convenience — from clothing to cryptocurrency — reels us in.

So while many wish to discern whose problem it is to bear and where to go from there, there is another difficulty: how excessive production can meet overconsumption, certainly, but more generally, how the lines blur between people’s best efforts and what’s most convenient. 

Art by Angela Liang for The UCSD Guardian.

Occupations Expected to Grow the Most Over the Next Decade


The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reshaped the U.S. labor market in many ways. Many low-wage jobs in fields like retail and hospitality were lost early in the pandemic and have not come back, while throughout the pandemic, there has been strong demand for health workers in response to the pandemic and technology specialists who can support an increasingly virtual economy. The unemployment rate remains elevated, but many industries are facing labor shortages and millions of workers have been leaving their jobs voluntarily in a phenomenon that has come to be known as “The Great Resignation.”

In some cases, the pandemic has been an accelerant of labor trends that were already underway, like increasing automation and digitalization of jobs. In others, post-pandemic shifts in the labor force will have less to do with the effects of the pandemic than with underlying demographic and economic trends. This complicated set of factors is evident in recent projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which estimated that total U.S. employment will grow 7.7% between now and 2030—but only by 1.7% when excluding the economy’s recovery from pandemic-related job loss.

One of the demographic trends driving shifts in the workforce is the aging of the population. The Baby Boomers, those Americans born between 1946 and 1964, number more than 75 million and were the largest generation in U.S. history until the Millennials came along. The Boomers have until recently tended to represent the largest sections of the labor force and are working later into life than previous generations. As a result, those aged 55+ are expected to represent around a quarter of the workforce for at least the next decade.

But the aging of the Baby Boomer generation will have more widespread effects on jobs and the economy as well. Eventually, as this generation ages out of the workforce into retirement, more companies will have vacancies and potentially find themselves struggling to fill positions that the Boomers once occupied. This scenario will put pressure on many employers but could also position younger workers for greater job opportunities. A larger population of elderly Americans will also bring greater strains on healthcare, so more of the economy will need to be oriented around supporting older Americans in their later years of life.

The latter trend is one of the primary reasons why health and human service occupations are projected to be among the fastest-growing fields in the years ahead. Healthcare support jobs are the top field for growth, with a total projected growth rate of 23.1% between 2020 and 2030. The related fields of community and social service and healthcare practitioners are also near the top of the list, with growth rates of 12.4% and 10.8%, respectively.

Super fund boss Debby Blakey from HESTA says it’s time Baby Boomers pulled their weight


As an activist fund manager, she has pushed the boundaries into campaigning for increased diversity, equality and directly engaging companies to ensure their environmental actions match their rhetoric.

Environmental and ethical investing in Australia has evolved over 20 years from a marginal to mainstream investment strategy accounting for nearly $1.3 trillion, or 40 per cent, of the nation’s managed funds.

COVID-19, the bushfires that ravaged south-eastern Australia, record-breaking droughts and erratic weather have helped recruit a new generation of investors with new priorities, putting the heat on many businesses needing their capital for growth.

Lupino is well-patronised for a rainy Tuesday afternoon in a CBD still recovering from the pandemic, and the unseasonal spring weather and empty streetscape are a motif for her warnings about the profound impact of the pandemic and climate change – and the equally profound response needed for its solution.

“I think every threat is also an opportunity. The biggest opportunity, but also possibly the biggest risk and challenge, is actually how we invest globally in the shifting world to constantly deliver great returns,” she says.

A passion for social justice

Blakey has experienced big changes throughout her life, having grown up in turbulent South Africa, before emigrating to Melbourne with her husband, Lawry, and her then young children, and rising through the ranks of the super industry.

She grew up in Durban, a seaside city on the east coast of South Africa, and spent her childhood and teenage years in a happy family, but in a nation wracked by violence and change.

Her father, now 89, was a shirt manufacturer and her mother was involved with the local community and arts scene.

“I had an amazing childhood. Very dynamic, very busy, very active, very outdoor, but also a very special relationship with both my parents,” says the second of three sisters, one of whom has joined her in Melbourne.

External influences bookending her childhood and adolescence include the fallout from the Sharpville massacre, apartheid, the rise of Nelson Mandela and the hopes of the Rainbow Nation.

“My father was very passionate about social justice, so they were incredibly formative years for me, to be brought up in that situation with his views on pro-democracy and pro-social justice,” she says.

She won an IBM scholarship to the University of Natal, where she completed a bachelor of science and met her soon-to-be husband.

Soon after graduating they spent a year in the United States studying psychology and biblical literature.

“I have a very deep conviction and personal faith, but I don’t like to think of myself as religious in the sense of being a member of a denomination,” she says.

Talk of religion prompts a discussion about switching the table water for wine and ordering a main course.

Blakey chooses risotto with asparagus, pancetta and taleggio, while I opt for the barramundi fillet, with cannellini beans, tomato and zucchini, accompanied by a glass of robust house red – a modest selection from a very healthy wine list.

The views from our ground floor corner table window could either inspire or depress someone who is committed to leveraging the combined capacity of men and women working together.

Just outside are the hulking brick walls that surround the rear of the Melbourne Club, the 183-year-old male-only institution, while nearby is its sister establishment, the women-only Lyceum Club.

Blakey’s passionate belief in the enormous potential of men and women to complement each other’s talents is a hallmark of HESTA’s investment ethos and management structure, with both sexes being evenly represented in senior management and board roles.

“Our executive team is seven plus me – four men and four women. We are in an exceptional place with a female chief executive, female chief financial officer and female chief investment officer.”

The chair is Nicola Roxon, the first female federal attorney-federal and former minister of health and ageing.

Blakey cites research showing the top 25 per cent of top-quartile companies that have gender diversity at executive level outperform by more than 20 per cent.

“We invest members’ money, and we want to do that in a way that gives them the best financial future,” she says.

“To do that really has two lenses. The first is that relentless focus on returns and we never walk away from that. But part of that is managing the investments very holistically and being very thoughtful about the risks and the opportunities. And these things matter. These environmental, social governance considerations actually matter.”

‘I work for fun’

Blakey’s working day starts around 5.30am and often extends late into the night on overseas calls to fund managers, analysts and her network of colleagues associated with the ICGN.

“What do I do for fun? I work for fun,” says Blakey, who recently became a grandmother for the second time.

On her arrival in Melbourne from South Africa, Blakey spent her first year focusing on settling in with her children while continuing her studies, but soon got itchy feet.

The first job she applied for – and got – was with a small industry fund called Independent Schools Super Trust, which was merged later with NGS Super. She worked there for about seven years in a range of operational roles before joining HESTA, which covers about 900,000 workers in health and community services, 80 per cent of whom are women.

She joined to lead their member engagement and advice operations in 2008 and within three years was the deputy chief executive covering risk management, technology and business development.

“These things matter. These environmental, social governance considerations actually matter”: Blakey takes a holistic approach to her role.  Tash Sorensen

“HESTA was phenomenal for me. I always feel when I got to HESTA, I was home. I think at that point, my actual aspirations for my career really did go up. And it was because of that sense of opportunity, sense of belief in me,” she says.

Before taking on the chief executive role in 2015 she sought coaching to understand why she wanted the job.

“I didn’t want to apply for the CEO role because it was just the next step or a good idea,” she says. “I felt having a coach could help in testing me to understand why I wanted the job.

“And she was jolly tough on me. Sometimes when I was articulating ‘why’, I would drop into the ‘what’. She was very disciplined with me and said, ‘No, no, no. Let’s not talk about the ‘what’ or the ‘how’. Let’s just be very clear about the ‘why’ first. Start with ‘why’.”

Since taking over, membership has grown by 100,000 and funds under management have more than doubled.

She has also introduced programs to boost member engagement with their super investing and an in-house fund management capacity for Australian equities and bonds, while keeping an eye peeled for possible mergers.

HESTA’s flagship managed fund, which contains about 80 per cent of members’ assets, has been a top-quartile performer over one, three, five and seven years.

The sustainable fund, which targets companies with proven environmental, social and governance credentials, last year returned about 23 per cent.

Blakey has also been active in promoting high-profile governance issues, such as negotiating with Rio Tinto on addressing management issues that led to heritage destruction at Juukan Gorge

“I think it was a failure of governance by Rio right from the top,” she says. “ I think companies need to realise the community can have a very different view on the right thing to do.”

Blakey has been active in promoting high-profile governance issues.  

A shareholder revolt led to a management shakeout and departure of several senior executives, including chief executive Jean-Sebastian Jacques, and new disclosure and governance oversight measures aimed at rebuilding trust with Traditional Owners.

Other major campaigns include the need for companies to increase the number of women in senior management.

Industry funds use the ACSI, which she is president of, to research and guide them on touchy issues such as executive pay, climate change, other social issues and corporate scandals.

Blakey denies she is blurring the line between corporate and political activism and pushing for systemic change.

“It’s about members entrusting their financial future to us. That’s what it’s about. We have an enormous responsibility to engage with the companies we invest in to understand how they’re managing key risks,” she says.

The super sector is highly competitive and unhappy members can “vote with their feet”, she says, adding that its retention rates are industry-leading.

Challenges from change are expected to accelerate as the economy is reshaped by new ways of work resulting from COVID-19, an awareness of the “incredible role of health” and the “biggest opportunity”, which is building economic recovery around tackling climate change, she says.

“Australia has so much to gain from decarbonisation, but the governments need to take a leadership role in creating investment guidelines that provide long-term certainty about investing in a green-led recovery,” she says.

“Then it’s up to us as an organisation to control what we can control, making sure we are in the strongest position we can to take advantage of the future opportunities. That’s what it’s about.”

To make the point clearer she declines a coffee – got to get back to work and finishes the lunch with a couple of lines from William Ernest Henley’s poem Invictus, which was a favourite of Nelson Mandela.

“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul,” she quotes.

“To me, it means living up to the opportunity we have to make an impact. We have to understand our accountability.”

Debby Blakey will be speaking at the Financial Review Super & Wealth Summit on Monday, November 22.

The bill

Lupino, 41 Little Collins St, Melbourne

Risotto with asparagus, pancetta and taleggio $31

Barramundi fillet, with cannellini beans, tomato and zucchini $38

Avignon red wine (glass) $14.60

Dry ginger ale $5

Total: $88.60

Health Policy and Administration program hosts professionals for career talk


CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Penn State Lehigh Valley’s Health Policy and Administration program recently hosted a Careers in HPA Night that clearly demonstrated the abundant job opportunities existing within the field.

The virtual event featured insights from five professionals working in the HPA field: Susette Benedick, executive director, Kidney Care Specialists LLC; Penn State Hazleton Lecturer and HPA Program Coordinator Beth Greenberg, former senior director, regulatory affairs, LeadingAge PA; Sharon Scheirer, senior coordinator, human resources, St. Luke’s University Health System; Charlene Underwood, former senior director, government HIT strategy, Siemens Medical Solutions; and PSU-LV Assistant Teaching Professor and HPA Program Coordinator Anita Yuskauskas, former technical director, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Each panel member took turns discussing various aspects of their respective careers.

Originally a music education major, Greenberg found her way into the field by accident when she took a government position.

“It was really the result of the opportunities presented, and for me it was health care,” she said.

Throughout her career, Greenberg has found that having a good foundation in writing, economics and finance has been extremely beneficial to her success.

“The desire to keep learning is essential, because in health care everything is always changing,” she said.

Underwood spent the better part of her 40-year career working on the technology end of health care, developing along the way “a passion for combining health with information technology.”

“You need to understand how new systems work. And, you need to be able to condense hundreds of pages of complex technical information into something that people can understand,” Underwood said. “Also, the ability to network is so important.”

Yuskauskas started her health care career as a personal care aide, then eventually went on to government positions in Pennsylvania and Hawaii. For her, “communication skills are so important,” she said.

Scheirer listed problem solving and relationship building as two more critical skills in the HPA toolbox.

“And curiosity. It’s really important to have a curious mind,” she said.

For students getting ready to head out into the job market, the panelists offered a number of suggestions to help them be better candidates.

“I think it’s important to do some good volunteer work — preferably an opportunity with skills you want to learn,” Greenberg said. “Also, informational interviewing is a great way to learn what a person does in their job on a day-to-day basis. And it could be a great resource for expanding your network, which could benefit you down the road.”

“You’ve got to have that really impressive resume, because health care is ever changing. So, make sure it looks great,” Benedick added. “And, when you’re interviewed for a job, make sure you get the contact information for the person interviewing you. Because you definitely want to send them a thank-you note afterward.”

Looking down the road, Yuskauskas said career opportunities within the HPA field are only going to continue growing.

“As baby boomers are going into old age, there are going to be a lot of jobs in policy and management in long-term care,” she said.

“There are so many opportunities in the medical industry,” Benedick said. “You just need a degree and a good network to get those opportunities.”