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Facing Crisis in the Social Media Age

Posted by Geri Denterlein on Apr 26, 2017 1:30:00 PM

Editor’s note: Geri Denterlein is CEO and founder of the strategic communications firm Denterlein. She recently conducted a presentation on crisis management to the AIM CEO Connection.

When a crisis breaks are you ready? It happens every day. You get the call:

  • An employee has been seriously injured in one of your plants.
  • A natural disaster has shut down production at a major facility.
  • Workplace violence or a threat has forced the closure of a plant.
  • Your employees are on strike.
  • A major product has been recalled.

Dominoes.jpgFrom an operations perspective, you may have contingency plans in place for a facility shutdown but has your team contemplated the reputational fall-out that will likely result? Who decides whether a situation has the potential to cause reputational damage to your company? And what’s the plan when the answer is: “Yes, it does?”

Spontaneous, catastrophic events can bring production to a screeching halt, quickly and decisively decimating the bottom line and shaking the confidence of consumers, shareholders and distribution partners. In a rapidly changing economy where 90 percent of executives say reputation risk is a key business challenge, the perception of your brand remains closely tied to consumers’ decisions to buy or invest.

“Because of … the internet and globalization, the dominoes of the supply chain are now very close together – and the closer they are, the faster they fall,” says Arash Azadegan, PhD, a professor of supply chain procurement at Rutgers University.

If the unthinkable happens, how will you respond?

A communications plan can guide your company’s responses during a crisis, mitigating the impact on reputation. Being prepared before a situation engulfs your organization can help to ensure consistent messaging and orderly, proactive distribution of critical (often sensitive) information to stakeholders, including employees, distribution partners, shareholders and the media. Advanced planning also ensures that if and when a crisis occurs, you can respond quickly and with some level of transparency, authenticity and accountability.

The collapse of the newspaper industry and rise of social media has transformed the way Americans get their news. Public expectations during a crisis have changed along with it. While leaders of the pre-digital age had the luxury of time to gather all of the facts and formulate a plan – those of today do not. The popularity of social media and Twitter, in particular, makes the demand for immediate information paramount. But facts alone are not enough. Consumers also expect sincerity and some level of accountability.

Ignore any one of these tenants at your own peril.

Learn more about the AIM CEO Connection.

Topics: Management, Manufacturing, Communications

State Readies New Rules on Background Checks

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Apr 13, 2017 10:55:07 AM

Editor’s note:  The following blog was written by Jean M. Wilson, Barry J. Miller, and Alison Silveira of Seyfarth Shaw, which is a member of AIM’s HR-Labor and Employment Law Committee. 

The Massachusetts legislature passed sweeping reform in May 2012 to the commonwealth’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law, which regulates the ability of employers to conduct criminal background checks.

ScalesofJusticeVerySmall.jpgNow, prompted by Governor Charlie Baker’s regulatory reform initiative, the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) has new rules for the CORI law.  Several of these changes will require employers to alter their approach to criminal history checks:

  1. Who is an Employee? The regulations expand the definition of employee to include not only traditional employees and volunteers, but also contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and special state, county or municipal employees. DCJIS has, in effect, broadened the definition of employee well beyond its traditional meaning, and in a manner that is at odds with the definition of this term under other state and federal laws, leading to possible uncertainty for employers

  2. What is CORI? The prior regulations did not define “Criminal Offender Record Information,” beyond a list of examples of information included or excluded from the system.   The regulations now define CORI, but the definition leaves uncertainty as to what information, outside of that specifically provided by DCJIS, is inlcuded.  The regulations also now specifically exclude from the definition of CORI information related to criminal proceedings that were initiated against an individual before the individual turned 18, unless the individual is adjudicated as an adult.  Prior to the revisions, this threshold was 17.

  3. “Need to Know” List and New iCORI Agency Agreement - The revised regulations require employers to enter into an iCORI Agency Agreement prior to obtaining and/or renewing electronic access to the iCORI system. The iCORI Agency Agreement will, at a minimum, include the employer’s representation that:  (1) it will comply with the CORI laws and regulations; (2) it will maintain an up-to-date “need to know” list of staff that the employer has authorized to request, receive or review CORI information and to provide all staff on the “need to know” list with all CORI training materials; (3) it will only request the level of CORI access authorized under statute or by the DCJIS; and (4) it will be liable for any violations of the CORI law or regulations, and that individual users of the employer’s iCORI account may also be liable for violations of the CORI law or regulations.  The DCJIS has not yet issued the iCORI Agency Agreement. 

  4. CORI Acknowledgment Forms - DCJIS has made several changes to the regulations that affect the collection, use and destruction of CORI Acknowledgment Forms.

  5. Storing CORI in the Cloud - DCJIS now permits employers to store CORI using cloud storage methods.  DCJIS requires employers using cloud storage to have a written agreement with the provider and that the storage method provide for encryption and password protection.

  6. Additional Information for Pre-Adverse Action Notices - Employers who contemplate adverse action against an employee because of information in a CORI report obtained through DCJIS are currently required to provide the subject of that report with certain information, including identifying the information in the report that is the basis for potential adverse action. 

  7. Obtaining CORI from Background Screening Companies: The regulations continue to allow background screening companies to obtain CORI on behalf of employers, but maintain the restrictions on the storage of this information that led many background screening companies to cease providing CORI.  Specifically, the regulations continue to prohibit background screening companies from electronically or physically storing CORI results, unless the background screening company is authorized by the employer to act as the decision maker. 

Employers should work with their legal counsel and background check providers to ensure that their procedures and forms comply with these new changes. 

Massachusetts businesses should also be aware that there are legislative proposals regarding Criminal Justice reform and other specific proposals that would impact Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) laws. 

Want to learn more about the new CORI regulations or the pending legislation? Please contact Brad MacDougall, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.  Based on interest, AIM may host a webinar to provide members with greater information.

Topics: Employment Law, Massachusetts employers, CORI

House Establishes Process to Study Health Assessment

Posted by Katie Holahan on Apr 10, 2017 1:08:24 PM

The Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee wants the Baker Administration to examine the assumptions underlying its controversial proposal to have employers pay for a shortfall in the MassHealth program.

StateHouse-resized-600.pngThe proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget released by the committee today would create a six-month review of the $2,000-per-employee “Fair Share Assessment” that the administration included in its own budget proposal in January.

The House plan would require the administration to conduct public hearings and determine the potential effect of the assessment on small business. It would also limit the definition of a full-time employee in any assessment by excluding temporary and seasonal employees.

Perhaps most importantly, the House envisions that any assessment would generate $180 million instead of the $300 million initially projected by the administration. MassHealth is the commonwealth’s Medicaid health-insurance program for low-income people.

“The issues surrounding the MassHealth deficit and the proposed employer assessment are extraordinary complex. We believe the House proposal lays out a prudent process for reviewing the issue in a manner that will allow AIM to continue its ongoing discussions with lawmakers and the administration,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

The administration’s plan would impose a $2,000-per-employee assessment upon companies at which at least 80 percent of full-time worker equivalents do not take the company’s offer of health insurance, and that do not make a minimum contribution of $4,950 annual contribution for each full-time worker. If 70 percent of a company’s employees accept company health insurance, the company would be assessed $2,000 per employee for the number of employees represented by the 10 percent difference.

The employer assessment represents an expansion of the so-called fair share contribution plan that was a linchpin of the 2006 universal health care law in Massachusetts before it was repealed to make way for the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

The House Ways and Means budget will require the administration to consider the following factors in developing any sort of health-care assessment on businesses in Massachusetts.

  • What a reasonable utilization (uptake) rate might be by reviewing other entities, such as the Group Insurance Commission;
  • Whether employees receive premium assistance through MassHealth;
  • Whether employees receive primary MassHealth benefits;
  • Whether employees receive insurance from other, non-MassHealth sources (spousal; parental; veterans);
  • Whether employees are residents of the commonwealth (and thus eligible for MassHealth);
  • What average Massachusetts employer contribution rates might be.

The review of the proposed assessment would involve multiple state agencies, including the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Department of Revenue (DOR), the Health Connector, the Division of Unemployment Assistance, the Center for Health Information and Analysis, and MassHealth.

A public hearing on proposed regulations must be held by the first week in October 2017.

The administration would be required to implement all regulations relative to an assessment by November 1. Full implementation of any resulting policy would occur on January 1, 2018. A small-business impact statement must be filed.

AIM has opposed the employer assessment because the growing shortfall at MassHealth, which provides health insurance to 1.9 million low-income Massachusetts residents, is attributable largely to problems arising from the ACA. Federal reform made access to health insurance an entitlement based on expanded income eligibility and significantly expanded the roles of people on Medicaid.

The House budget would require the administration to seek an ACA waiver that would allow the original prohibition to be reinstated.

Topics: Budget, Health Care Costs, Massachusetts House of Representatives

Survey: Employers Use Wages, Partnerships to Address Skills Crisis

Posted by Katie Holahan on Apr 5, 2017 1:30:00 PM

Massachusetts employers believe that the best way to address the shortage of skilled workers is to show those workers the money, according to a new AIM survey.

ManufacturingWorkerSmall.jpgAsked what strategies their companies have adopted to address the persistent skills gap that affects many industries, 47 percent of employers responded that they have increased wages and benefits. Forty percent say they use temporary-to-permanent employment agencies to find workers, and another 39 percent indicate that they have established a relationship with their local high school or vocational school.

The results were based on responses from 100 employers representing a cross-section of the state economy. Employers could check multiple answers.

Indeed, many employers seem to be using multiple strategies to find the employees they need. Approximately 25 percent of companies say they have established a relationship with a community college, recruited employees from outside the area, used state Workforce Training Fund Grants to improve the skills of existing workers, and established on-the job training.

“We do whatever works, but it is a growing, long-term problem,” said one employer who participated in the survey.

AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century long-term economic plan for Massachusetts cites hiring and retaining skilled workers at the predominant challenge to the economic prosperity of Massachusetts. The Blueprint calls for Massachusetts to create a flexible and responsive statewide work-force development system that provides residents the opportunity to learn the skills that employers in each region demand.

Katie Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, finds it encouraging that a significant share of employers is forging ties with vocational schools, community colleges and other educational institutions.

“These collaborations allow employers to provide schools and colleges with a clear idea of the skills that are in demand and for the schools to teach those skills to students. It creates a talent pipeline that represents the only long-term solution to the shortage of skilled employees,” Holahan said.

AIM has also supported efforts by the Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC) to develop with vocational schools a competency-based curriculum for precision machining that allows students to meet prescribed industry standards.

The emphasis on raising wages and benefits appears at odds with other recent surveys showing that tight labor markets have yet to exert significant upward pressure on average wages.

Massachusetts employers responding to the 2017 AIM HR Practices Survey projected smaller average wage increases in 2017 than in 2016. Wage and salary increase budgets for this year were projected at 2.75 percent, down from 2.,9 percent in 2016 and lower than the predicted 3.0 percent budget increases predicted nationwide. 

If you are interested in keeping up with work force development area, please email Katie Holahan at KEH@aimnet.org

Topics: Education, Workforce Training

Tech Foundry Earns 2017 Gould Education Award

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Apr 5, 2017 8:30:00 AM

An employer initiative in Springfield to train students for careers in information technology will receive the 2017 John Gould Education and Workforce Development Award, AIM announced today.

Tech Foundry, founded in 2013, has trained more than 100 people ranging from high school students to older workers – many from underserved and at-risk populations – to meet the accelerating demand for qualified IT workers in western Massachusetts.

Tech Foundry 2.jpgAIM will present the Gould Award at its Annual Meeting on May 5 at the Westin Waterfront hotel in Boston. Governor Charlie Baker will keynote the event, which will also include presentation of AIM Vision Awards to Fidelity Investments, Bright Horizons Family Solutions and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Tech Foundry translates open IT positions from employers into a list of specific and quantifiable skills that can be taught and measured.  Volunteers from businesses take the time to help teach the specific skills that matter most to them in candidates.

“We provide a comprehensive IT training curriculum that prepares our students for an entry-level job in IT, using skills ranging from hardware repair, network administration, programming, help desk, data analytics and many others,” said Tech Foundry’s Director of Strategic Partnerships Jonathan Edwards.

AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century long-term economic plan for Massachusetts identifies the hiring and retention of qualified employees as the primary challenge facing the Bay State economy. AIM President and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lord said Tech Foundry is helping employers meet that challenge while creating economic opportunity for people with outstanding potential.

“Tech Foundry has been flexible and practical and that’s why it has posted a 65 percent placement rate for IT jobs. The organization is a worthy recipient of the John Gould Award,” Lord said.

Employers, including AIM-members such as Baystate Health, have been impressed with the Tech Foundry graduates.

"When I see a resume from someone who graduated from Tech Foundry, I know they have the necessary skills to succeed in an entry-level IT job at Baystate," IT Director Patrick Streck said at a celebration of Tech Foundry’s third anniversary in February. 

State officials, including Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, have also taken notice.

“It looked like there was a work force here. If you had dropped me in here blindfolded I would have thought I was in an IT department somewhere,” Ash said following a recent visit to the organizations Springfield headquarters.

The Gould Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and to the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the Commonwealth.

In 2000, the award was named after John Gould, upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, to recognize his work to improve the quality of public education and workforce training in Massachusetts.

Past recipients of the Gould Award include; the late Jack Rennie, Chairman and Founder of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, Middlesex Community College, Gordon Lankton, President and CEO (retired), NYPRO Inc., William Edgerly, Chairman Emeritus, State Street Corporation, Northeastern University, The Davis Family Foundation, Intel Massachusetts, EMC Corporation, IBM, David Driscoll Commissioner (Retired) Massachusetts Department of Education, State Street Corporation and Year UP Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Brockton High School, Manufacturing Advancement Center – MACWIC Program, Christo Rey Boston High School, CVS and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries.   

 

Topics: Education, Gould Education and Workforce Training

Employer Confidence Rises Again in March

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Apr 4, 2017 8:47:09 AM

Massachusetts employer confidence inched higher during March amid a swirl of contradictory economic and political signals.

BCI.March.2017.jpgThe Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index (BCI) increased 0.3 points to 62.4 last month, 5.9 points higher than its level of a year earlier and the highest reading since August 2004. The seventh consecutive monthly improvement reflected an increase in the U.S. Index of national business conditions, which has risen 9.1 points during the previous year, and a bullish overall view of current conditions.

The results came as the government announced that the U.S. economy grew in the fourth quarter at a faster pace than previously reported on higher consumer spending. At the same time, the Massachusetts unemployment rate rose to 3.4 percent as employers created jobs at an annual pace of 57,700.

“Massachusetts employers remain broadly confident about both the state and national economies,” said Raymond G. Torto, Chair of AIM's Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

“Slight declines in the Employment Index, the Manufacturing Index and projections about the economy six months from now perhaps reflect some of the uncertainty about the direction of economic policy in Washington.”

The AIM Index, based on a survey of Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative. The Index reached its historic high of 68.5 on two occasions in 1997-98, and its all-time low of 33.3 in February 2009.

The index has remained above 50 since October 2013.

The sub-indices based on selected questions or categories of employer were mixed during March.

The Massachusetts Index, assessing business conditions within the commonwealth, rose 0.5 points to 63.7, leaving it 6.2 points higher than in March 2016.

The U.S. Index of national business conditions gained ground for the sixth consecutive month. Views of the national economy rose one point to 59.9. Still, February marked the 83rd consecutive month in which employers have been more optimistic about the Massachusetts economy than the national economy.

The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, surged 1.9 points to 61.8 while the Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, lost 1.4 points to 63.0. The future outlook was 4.9 points higher than a year ago.

The sub-indices bearing on survey respondents’ own operations were also ambiguous.

The Company Index, reflecting overall business conditions, remained unchanged from February at 62.8. The Employment Index fell 1.4 points to 60.4, but the Sales Index gained 1.1 points to 62.6.

The AIM survey found that nearly 39 percent of respondents reported adding staff during the past six months while 19 percent reduced employment. Expectations for the next six months were stable – 37 percent hiring and only 10 percent downsizing.

One of the most unusual results of the March survey was that Western Massachusetts companies were more confident (63.6) than those in the eastern portion of the commonwealth (62.2). Confidence outside of the white-hot Boston economy has been increasing steadily for months, but experts say it is too soon to say whether the geographic shift represents a long-term trend or a statistical anomaly.

Paul Bolger, President, Massachusetts Capital Resource Company, and a BEA member, noted that the March confidence survey was taken just as Republican efforts to repeal federal health reform fell apart.

“Employers have anticipated that a Republican Congress and a Republican president would deliver traditional pro-growth measures such as tax reform and infrastructure improvements. The failure of those parties to pass health-reform legislation seems to have created uncertainty about other legislative priorities that matter to employers,” Bolger said.

AIM President and CEO Richard C. Lord, also a BEA member, echoed the sense of uncertainty that hangs over Massachusetts as federal policymakers in Washington struggle to establish a direction.

“Many growth industries in Massachusetts such as health care, higher education, research and defense, depend upon federal funding and are vulnerable to potential budget reductions,” Lord said.

“Discussion of transitioning Medicaid, the health-insurance program for low-income Americans, to block grants also has significant implications to the health care system that is already straining employers.”

Topics: AIM Business Confidence Index, Massachusetts economy, Massachusetts employers

Uber Envisions New Transportation Model

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Mar 30, 2017 4:16:43 PM

The ride-sharing app Uber has logged the fastest ascent in Silicon Valley history, growing from a startup eight years ago to a company operating across 450 cities in 73 countries and serving 40 million customers each month.

But the company’s Boston-based regional manager, Meghan Verena Joyce, said the company’s ultimate objective is much larger - to merge traditional transportation infrastructure with new technology to create a new model of moving from one place to another.

“I often wonder whether my daughter will ever have a driver’s license,” Joyce mused as she spoke to 300 people at the AIM Executive Forum in Waltham this morning.

The new transportation model, Joyce said, will make efficient use of private automobiles and public transit to reduce traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and land-intensive parking. It will create a system in which everyone – including people in low-income urban areas often left out of the transit grid – will have access to reliable and affordable transportation.

“We believe there is a better way,” said Joyce, a Harvard MBA who served as an associate at Bain Capital and as a senior policy advisor at the US Treasury before joining Uber in 2013.

The challenge is not the one billion automobiles that exist worldwide, according to Joyce, but the solitary manner in which we use them. A show of hands from the audience indicated that the vast majority of people had driven to the Executive Forum with only one person in the vehicle.

Joyce said that Uber has already taken steps to integrate technology with existing transportation infrastructure to streamline the system. Many Uber customers in Boston combine ride-sharing with the MBTA, while others use a modified car-pooling initiative called UberPOOL to share rides with neighbors who travel to the same locations at similar times.

Almost one-third of Uber trips in Great Boston come from UberPOOL, according to Joyce. In San Francisco, where UberPOOL has existed for a longer time, the program has reduced car traffic in that city and saved an estimated 6.2 million gallons of gasoline while cutting carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 55,000 metric tons.

Joyce said Uber’s vision also includes providing transportation options for people in low-income urban areas. People in Dorchester and Mattappan, who she said formerly waited an average of 25 minutes for taxi pickups, now enjoy 96 percent reliability and pickups within 3-5 minutes with ride sharing.

“Our vision is to create a transportation ecosystem that is better for everyone,” she said.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM Executive Forum, Transportation

Fidelity, Bright Horizons, WHOI Honored with 2017 AIM Vision Awards

Posted by Rick Lord on Mar 30, 2017 9:07:00 AM

Three organizations that have transformed Massachusetts by carving out preeminent places in their disciplines – Fidelity Investments, Bright Horizons Family Solutions and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution -  will be honored with 2017 Vision Awards by Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

The largest employer association in Massachusetts will present the Vision Awards at its Annual Meeting on May 5 in Boston. Accepting the awards on behalf of the honorees will be Abigail Johnson, Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Investments; Linda A. Mason, Co-Founder of Bright Horizons; and Mark Abbott, Director and President of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Governor Charles D. Baker will deliver the keynote address.

The Vision Award recognizes companies, organizations and individuals who have made unique contributions to the cause of economic opportunity in Massachusetts. The award reflects AIM’s mission to stand for jobs, economic prosperity, innovation and a government that acknowledges that the private sector has the unique responsibility to create the common wealth for the people of Massachusetts.

“The 4,000 member employers of Associated Industries of Massachusetts are delighted to honor three world-renowned organizations that have truly changed the way we live,” said AIM President and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lord.

“Fidelity Investments became a cornerstone of the financial industry by offering investment services to a broad set of customers from individual investors to advisors and large companies. Bright Horizons is the largest provider of employer-sponsored day care in the United States. And Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution remains both a global leader in ocean science and a key driver of the economy on Cape Cod.”

Johnson1.jpgFidelity Investments is the fourth largest investment firm in the world. With assets under administration of $6.0 trillion, including managed assets of $2.2 trillion as of February 28, 2017, the firm focuses on meeting the unique needs of a diverse set of customers: helping more than 26 million people invest their own life savings, 23,000 businesses manage employee-benefit programs, and providing more than 12,500 financial advisory firms with investment and technology solutions to invest their own clients’ money.

Founded in 1946 by Edward C. Johnson 2d, Fidelity was an early pioneer in the development of mutual funds. Fidelity was also innovator in many other areas throughout its history, including check writing for money market accounts, selling mutual funds over 800 number phone lines, the development of sector funds, the growth of the defined-contribution retirement savings industry, and using online and mobile technology to make investing quicker and easier for millions of customers.

The company has used innovation and an unrelenting focus on customer service to mold itself into a diversified financial services firm that is a leader in personal investing, workplace investing, and tools and services for financial intermediaries. Fidelity is now the nation's No. 1 record keeper of 401(k) retirement savings plans and is also the largest US online brokerage firm, with 17.9 million accounts and $1.7 trillion in client assets.  

Abigail Johnson became chief executive officer in 2014 and assumed the title of Chairman in December 2016. A recent Investor’s Business Daily article on Fidelity’s 2016 financial results praised the company’s ability to change: "Fidelity is profitable, strong, innovative and driven to growth," said Jim Lowell, editor-in-chief of Fidelity Investor, an independent newsletter. "That's not true for many financial services companies."

Mason1.jpgBright Horizons Family Solutions – Watertown-based Bright Horizons has forged a trusted global presence as an indispensable resource for employers and their workers seeking to address an increasingly complex array of work-life issues.

Linda Mason and her husband, Roger Brown, founded Bright Horizons with the goal of providing high quality child care at work sites. Together, they created a company with the mission to nurture each child’s unique qualities and potential, support families through strong partnerships, and collaborate with employers to build family-friendly workplaces.

Bright Horizons today operates more than 1,000 child-care centers in the U.S., the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, India, and Canada. It also works with more than 1,000 employers to provide a complete family of employer solutions, including child care, back-up care for children and adults/elders, and educational advising for employees and their college-bound dependents.

And they do it well. Eighty organizations on Working Mother magazine’s "100 Best Companies" list are Bright Horizons clients. Bright Horizons itself has consistently been named to the "100 Best Companies to Work for in America" list by FORTUNE magazine and the Top Places to Work in Massachusetts by The Boston Globe.

Bright Horizons employs 2,100 people in Massachusetts and more than 20,000 worldwide. The company’s revenue jumped 8 percent during 2016 to $1.6 billion, while net income rose 1 percent to $95 million.

The company’s blue-chip client list reads like a who’s-who of global business leaders, from Allstate Insurance, Comcast NBC Universal and Booz Allen Hamilton to Sprint, Target, Discovery Communications, General Mills and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Ms. Mason and Mr. Brown in 1988 also created an independent, nonprofit organization, Horizons for Homeless Children (formerly The Horizons Initiative) dedicated to providing high-quality child care and educational services to homeless children and their families.

Abbott1.jpgWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is the world’s largest, private non-profit oceanographic research institution and a global leader in the study and exploration of the ocean. An unmatched reputation for intellectual discovery under the water has allowed the organization to contribute to its economic surroundings out of the water as well.

Woods Hole scientists and engineers have played a part in discoveries that form the modern understanding of the ocean and how it interacts with other parts of the planet, including human society. WHOI professionals combine access to specialized tools, ships, labs, and underwater vehicles with knowledge of how to explore the ocean to create a detailed understanding of the global ocean system.

The institution, founded in 1930, employs more than 1,000 researchers, engineers, information technology specialists, and crews for ships and underwater vehicles like the Alvin that famously explored the wreck of the Titanic in 1986. A combination of government grants and contracts, foundation and private donations and industry contracts provide the organization with an annual operating budget of $215 million.

Increasingly WHOI is involved in projects that apply the knowledge gained from basic research to societal issues, providing high-quality data and analysis across a range of topics, from climate to biodiversity to resources to natural hazards mitigation. These efforts have given WHOI’s work reach into new and important arenas.

In 2010, the Institution rapidly mobilized researchers from several different disciplines to assist the Coast Guard and other responders during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In response to the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, WHOI mounted another rapid response and mobilization to gather data and water samples quickly to determine the amount of radioactivity released into the ocean. That monitoring effort continues.

Engineers and scientists at WHOI worked for nearly two years to successfully locate, in May 2011, the deep-water wreckage of Air France flight 447, using the WHOI-designed and -built REMUS 6000 autonomous vehicle.

Topics: AIM Annual Meeting, Massachusetts economy, AIM Vision Award

State Tightens Standard for Health Cost Growth

Posted by Katie Holahan on Mar 29, 2017 1:21:55 PM

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission voted unanimously today to lower the state’s objective for the growth of health-care expenditures from 3.6 percent to 3.1 percent beginning in 2018.

HPC.jpgThe vote marks a significant milestone for employers and consumers struggling with the soaring cost of health insurance. AIM President and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lord, who represents employers on the Health Policy Commission, has been a vocal supporter of lowering the benchmark and voted in favor of the 3.1 percent level.

“Today’s vote represents a concrete, measurable step toward moderating the type of premium increases that give employers a knot in their stomachs when they look at their insurance renewals,” Lord said.

“The action will ultimately mean more than all the sound and fury over national health reform in Washington."

The spending growth benchmark, established as part of the health-cost control law of 2012, is a critical component for understanding year-over-year increases in health-care spending. AIM has always favored an aggressive goal – the organization joined with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization in 2012 to support setting the health-care cost growth benchmark at two percentage points below the growth in the state’s economy.

The association ultimately supported the establishment of a 3.6 percent benchmark because it recognized the vital importance of creating a standard to measure cost-containment efforts.

But Massachusetts has not yet seen sufficient progress. The commonwealth has exceeded the 3.6 percent benchmark in two of the past three measurement periods. Total Health Care Expenditures (THCE) grew by 4.2 percent from 2013 to 2014, and by 4.1 percent from 2014 to 2015.

“These unsustainable cost increases are occurring in an industry where experts agree that at least a third of all care is unnecessary – delivered in the wrong setting; marked by a lack of coordination; provided with an inadequate emphasis on prevention; harmed by medical errors; burdened with rules and fraud; or just plain excessive,” Lord said.

AIM is also addressing the health cost issue by supporting new research conducted by the Health Policy Commission suggesting that Massachusetts could reduce total health-care expenditures anywhere from $279 million per year to $794 million per year, or 0.5 to 1.3 percent, by making seven improvements to the health-care system.

The improvements:

  • Shift community appropriate care to community hospitals – Reduce by 5-10 percent the number of cases treated at teaching hospitals that would be more appropriately treated at community hospitals. Savings: $43 million to $86 million.
  • Reduce hospital readmissions – Cut the 2015 hospital readmission rate from 15.8 percent (78,000 readmissions) to a range of 15 to 13 percent. Savings: $61 million to $245 million.
  • Reduce avoidable emergency room visits – More than 900,000 emergency room visits during 2015 were considered avoidable. Shift 5-10 percent of those avoidable visits to lower-cost settings. Savings: $12 million to $24 million.
  • Reduce use of institutional post-acute care – Redirect 5-21 percent of the patients who currently leave hospitals to go to institutional rehabilitation facilities into home care. Savings: $46.6 million to $186 million.
  • Provide incentives for consumers to choose high-value primary care providers.
  • Increase the use of alternative payment methods -The commonwealth wants to increase the percentage of HMO participants covered by alternative payment methods from 58.5 percent in 2015 to 80 percent this year. Savings: $23 million to $68 million.
  • Reduce the growth of prescription-drug spending – Cut the growth-rate of spending on prescriptions from 5.0 percent in 2016 to 3.6 percent to 4.3 percent. Savings: $57 million to $113 million.

Topics: Health Care Costs, Health Insurance, Health Care

Using Science to Reduce Greenhouse Emissions

Posted by Matthew Gardner on Mar 16, 2017 4:34:03 PM

Editor’s Note – Matthew Gardner, Ph.D., is Managing Partner of Sustainserv. He will serve as moderator of the AIM Sustainability Roundtable on April 8.

InnovationSmall-5.jpgIt’s one thing for a company to commit to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It’s another to base those reductions on strict, science-based targets.

But that’s exactly what AIM members like Walmart, Dell, Coca Cola and Procter and Gamble are doing. Another 170 global companies have committed to do the same.

The science melds global scientific greenhouse-gas reduction research with a disciplined understanding of a company’s own generation of greenhouse gasses.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by up to 70 percent by 2050 to limit global warming to 2°C , the threshold below which irreversible climate change can be averted.

Following the UN Climate Talks in Paris in 2015, an initiative was launched for companies to establish “science-based” GHG reduction targets consistent with the 2-degree C warming limit.

The standards give companies clear quantitative benchmarks against which to guide their GHG reduction efforts.

The targets apply to all of the categories of GHG emissions for which a company may be responsible. Such emissions include

“Scope 1” and “Scope 2” emissions, those related to the amounts of fuels that the company consumes in its operations (think heating, process-related and/or fuels used in company vehicles), as well as emissions related to the generation of energy that a company then uses on site (such as electricity).

By ensuring that a company has energy efficient buildings, operates an energy efficient vehicle fleet, or maximizes the efficiency of its process-related energy usage, the employer can reduce both its Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions and its expenses. 

So-called “Scope 3” -  those associated with the production and/or delivery of goods or services that are provided to the company by others on its behalf - emissions, are more complicated Scope 3 includes GHG emissions associated with business travel, emissions resulting from the production of materials that a company uses to manufacture its own products, or emissions from services such as shipping and logistics for which it contracts.

Scope 3 emissions can be many multiples greater than Scope 1 or Scope 2 emissions. Reducing these emissions can be difficult, however, as it requires significant engagement with the suppliers of those products or services, and an awareness of the GHG impacts of those products or processes by all parties.

Establishing science-based targets, and the implementation plans to achieve those targets, is a technical process that needs careful consideration and planning. GHG emissions must be calculated carefully and according to accepted protocols. Most importantly, an action plan must be developed to achieve the goals in an economical and technically feasible manner.

Done properly, science-based targets can provide context and focus to GHG emissions programs and the actions required to make them successful.

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Topics: Environment, Sustainability, AIM Sustainability Roundtable

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