Murphy’s Musings: Inclusivity issues in an increasingly cashless society

Following his recent trip to Sweden and Finland, Jon Murphy, one of our Non-Executive Directors shared the second in a series of blogs, titled ‘Murphy’s Musings’. In this entry, Jon delves into the inclusivity issues in an increasingly cashless society.

Finland has some great food traditions; crayfish parties in August, consuming vast quantities of salmon soup, having a table heaving with all sorts of pickled herrings, the amazing Skagen and eating smoked reindeer and smoked elk (I have had both on a pizza in Finland).

Out of all these, my favourite is the great summer tradition of eating fresh peas from the pod, or Herneenpalkoja, as my daughter-in-law Jenni tells me it’s called in Finland. You can buy them in any market, shopping mall, train station, anywhere.

However, when buying some at a market in Tampere I was stunned when the stall holder asked me for cash. Cash? WHAT THE FINN?

It was the only time on my recent trip, in either Sweden or Finland, I was asked for cash. Fortunately, I had some “walking-about” euros on me.

The next day I sat in a bar with my son in the same town, where we ordered beers and the transaction was contactless, nothing new there; but in this Tampere bar cash isn’t accepted at all, its forbidden, or “Kielletty” as they say in Finland.

In the bar, using Google, we research cash usage in Europe and find that in Finland cash is used for 10% of transactions (seems a bit high from personal observation), in neighbouring Sweden cash usage is 8%, Iceland 8% and Norway is the lowest global cash user at 4%. All of these are decreasing.

Southern European numbers for cash usage are higher with Spain at 45%, Italy 30% and the UK around 35% and decreasing.

So, cash is dying? To many that’s inevitable but to me that raises a big question around inclusivity.

There are lots of comment across all forms of media about the ‘end of cash’ with retailers of all types driving towards cashless trading. I understand that of course. Why would retailers want cash? It’s horrible dirty stuff, and there’s a cost to handing it since banks won’t take cash from retailers without charging to process it. So, it makes sense that card or alternate payments methods are taking over.

However, Nick Green, journalist for warns: “The UK is at risk of ‘sleepwalking into a cashless society before it is ready” and “alternative payment methods may make cash obsolete by 2026 – but millions of people remain reliant on cash for everyday payments”.

In February 2022, the average fall in cash withdrawals across the UK was around 40 percent. By contrast, in some of the most deprived areas, the figure was half of this, at 20 percent… one can therefore conclude that there’s a connection between changes in cash use and areas of deprivation. An example is Liverpool Walton where the fall in cash was only 16 percent and this is ranked as the most deprived constituency in England in terms of health deprivation and disability and employment and is second in terms of income.

So, this question of inclusiveness, supposing individuals want to use cash? They want to use cash because it’s their preference and/or they will have more control over their budgeting and spending using cash. A huge issue today.

The Post Office’s banking director Martin Kearsley says recent data is showing that Britain is anything but a cashless society. He states, “We’re seeing more and more people increasingly reliant on cash as the tried and tested way to manage a budget.” Many people are resorting to “cash stuffing” having envelopes allocated to differing budgets; food, travel etc. So, cash is far from dead and will have a life for the foreseeable.

I don’t use cash anymore (although I always have some just in case), I don’t go to branches (remember those?) and thankfully I am not on any benefits. But millions of people in British society are and it’s clear that in those cases and others, cash is still a major factor; Nick states that 8m people in the UK (17% of the population) still, and will for some time, use cash to make most of their payments. I expect that number will increase.

Unfortunately, if some of them come to Finland or Sweden they won’t be able to get a pint in.

Jon Murphy, Non-executive Director, ea Change

Murphy’s Musings: Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, key master of the internet

Following his recent trip to Sweden and Finland, Jon Murphy, one of our Non-Executive Directors has written the first in a series of blogs, titled ‘Murphy’s Musings’. In this first entry, Jon delves in to the role of Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, key master of the internet.

I was in Stockholm recently and after doing 17,500 steps exploring and traipsing the streets of Gamla Stan, I stopped in a bar to treat myself to a good local beer.

I was soon chatting to a man about Stockholm, it’s history (surprisingly very little connection to Vikings) and some local luminaries of the city, including ABBA, Bjorn Borg, and the two Gretas (Garbo & Thunberg). He also mentioned a local woman who is the key-master of the internet. The only key-master I had heard of was the one in Ghostbusters, so I was hooked.

This key master is Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, she lives on the island of Rindö in the Stockholm Archipelago, and having sailed through it, I can testify that it is a stunningly beautiful place, seemingly perfect for a key master.

Anne-Marie is a representative of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). She has also been a member of the Internet Hall of Fame since 2013, indeed the only female Crypto Officer to have been inducted into the HoF. Tim Berners-Lee is a member of the Hall of Fame, and so is Al Gore!

Twice a year Anne-Marie travels to a place called Culpeper in Virginia, USA with some fellow crypto-folk (if anyone knows the significance of Culpeper please share) and conducts the Key Signing Ceremony, a ritual to help ensure the security of the Internet.

After my new mate left, I did some research and it turns out that the “key” that Anna-Marie is master of, is a physical key. It’s 5cm in length, made of metal and it opens a vault contains smart cards.

The key ceremony is a process in which the cryptographic keys that protect the Domain Name System (DNS) are renewed. As a result, the process makes it extremely hard to manipulate the DNS, maintaining the correct IP addresses being sent back and not dodgy ones which can take us to all sorts of dark places. The DNS would be less secure without the key ceremonies. Good to know!

The security put in place around the process is considerable. It takes two hours and has hundreds of stages to complete, all in the right order and the key must be within specific temperate tolerances, too hot or to hold and it won’t work, if damaged or has been tampered with, it won’t work. The entire process is videoed, requires eye scans and the like; again, good to know the security is tight.

Only 14 people on the planet hold these keys and not surprisingly these other key masters are predominantly male (shock!) and when Anne-Marie hands her key back in November this year (after being the internet’s key master since 2010) it’s likely a male will take over from her rather than a woman (again, shock!!) so rumours that all things internet are run by men are true then… sort yourselves out Internet folks, select a woman.

Thank you, Anne-Marie, for playing your part in keeping us safe for last 12 years.

Jon Murphy, Non-Executive Director, ea Change

Should salary expectations be shared in the job advert?

When a company is looking to hire and they are putting together the job spec to put out into the market, internally they have to agree on what that role is worth and the range they are willing to pay for that role, yet in many instances in today’s market when advertising companies only mention of salary is when they say ‘competitive salary’, what does that even mean and why do they insist on keeping it vague

Why don’t they do it?

Employers argue that if they put the salary on the job ad, they would be inundated with applications, but is this the real reason?

Some employers cite that they have never shared salary expectations, but recruitment practices evolve like every part of your organisation and not disclosing remuneration is quickly becoming an archaic way of doing things.

Employers might hope they can save money on talent. Although they think your position is worth £65k if they can get you for £55k they will. Although tacky and boarding on unethical, your manager may be pleased with you for saying them £10k but what is the cost in the long run and what kind of environment does this mentality breed.

Another reason employers argue they don’t provide the salary range is that it gives them more opportunity to look at a wider range of applicants.

Some employers say that they can’t show the salary because people already employed by them may become disgruntled. Keeping salary information private in the workplace helps mitigate jealousy and constant raise requests.

Who are the most likely to undervalue themselves when applying for jobs?

When offered a ‘competitive salary’, the most likely people to be undervalued are women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+, and people with a disability.

According to the charity Young Women’s Trust, women earn on average £223,000 less than men over the course of a lifetime based on data from the Office for National Statistics and shows that a gender income gap exists as soon as women start working.

The difference in pay between the sexes is largest among higher earners.

The difference in gross hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for men and women at the top and bottom decile and median, UK, 1997 to 2020, full-time employees.

What about across the United Kingdoms?

The gender pay gap varies substantially between regions. In every region of England, it is higher than in each of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

The gender pay gap is higher in all English regions than in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

The gender pay gap for median gross hourly earnings (excluding overtime) by work region, UK, April 1997 and 2020, full-time employees.

According to a recent survey by in 2020 men were offered higher salaries than women 63% of the time. CEO Mehul Patel advised “There is a clear correlation between the gender wage gap and what we have identified as the ‘Expectation Gap’. The Expectation Gap is borne from a variety of external factors including lack of easily available compensation data and a phenomenon known as ‘imposter syndrome’ which, combined with other influences, further cement the wage gap. This is also true of many candidates of ethnic minorities and those identifying as LGBTQ+.”

What happens when you ban asking for salary history?

When companies were banned from asking about salary history in the US, it led to an average increase of 8% in pay offered to women candidates and a 13% increase for Black candidates.

Why shouldn’t companies try and save money on hiring?

As mentioned above it breeds inequality women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and people with a disability constantly undervaluing their skills and therefore are paid less money for the same role as their white male colleagues.

It also breeds toxicity in the workplace. If you work at a company where they are perceived as the boy’s club, where most workers are women but the leadership positions are men then this leads to a constant discussion on salary and leadership within this organisation and it can breed negativity and distracts people from focusing on the task at hand.

If you hire people for less than the competitive salary, they will likely leave and the cost to hire again and retain could outweigh the benefit of underpaying them.

In conclusion

Greater transparency will benefit both the employers and the applicants, the transparency creates a culture that provides openness and makes you feel welcome which leads to attracting a greater variety and diversity in applicants and reduces the pay gap for women ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and people with a disability.

About ea Change

We approach all associates with an inclusive mindset and strive to eliminate unconscious bias from our search and selection process. We continually monitor the diversity of our resource pools and share our insights with clients, providing complete transparency. In doing so, we actively support talent acquisition strategies by aligning our process with your inclusion and diversity objectives.

If you would like to talk to one of our team about a role please call or email us today.