Top Stories

August 21, 2013


Review of working practices urged after intern’s death

Moritz Erhardt, an intern working at the London offices of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, has died after allegedly working for 72 hours without sleep.  A fellow intern at the bank said that interns "typically work 15 hours a day or more."  John McIvor, a Bank of America spokesman, said that the bank “will have to consider what the lessons are from this” but declined to comment on Mr Erhardt’s working hours and whether or not interns are made to work longer than 12 hour days.  Chris Roebuck, a visiting professor at Cass Business School, who has held senior HR roles at international banks, said that some employers are "pushing people past the point where it makes sense for their health or from a business perspective."  The UK advice organisation FinanceInterns is pushing for an independent industry body to be set up to ensure that punishing working practices are stopped. (The Times*; The Guardian)

Study: businesses can boost profits through sharing profits with employees

According to a new study from the UK Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), businesses could be more productive if they give employees a share of the profits.  The study states that schemes such as the one implemented by the UK retailer John Lewis plc, which shared last year’s £410 million profit with its employees, can also increase profit margins. Kayte Lawton, a senior research fellow at IPPR, said that the research found that “when everyone is focused on driving up profits, staff tend to work better together and get on better with managers, so productivity improves.”  The study also found that employees tend to work harder and that absenteeism rates are lower in companies that use profit sharing or other similar reward schemes. (The Independent)

Corporate Reputation

Corporate sponsors stand by winter games

Following the Russian Government’s recent legislation against the LGBT community, some of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s  corporate sponsors, including Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, have said that they think the law contradicts the Olympic charter, but they have declined to call for a reversal.  Kate Harman, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola, said that the company had “long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion and diversity through both our policies and practices.”  However Ms Harman said Coca-Cola would continue to sponsor the Winter Olympics, which will be held next year in the Russian city of Sochi, as “the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the games.”  Kenneth Roth, the president of the international NGO Human Rights Watch, has called on Olympic sponsors to pressure the Russian government to repeal the law.  (Buzzfeed; New Yorker)


Barclays to go beyond watchdog rules on customer complaints

The UK multinational bank Barclays plc has pledged to be more upfront about complaints from its customers by published more details on complaints data than is required by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).  Ashok Vaswani, who is part of a new management team charged with altering the culture at the bank, said that the amount of complaints against the bank was “horrendous”.  Reportedly, there were 381,740 complaints in the first half of this year. Mr Vaswani said the bank is “totally committed to driving these complaints down” and as part of this move, Barclays will report on customer complaints every quarter, twice as often as required by the FCA.  Mr Vaswani said that the bank will also include the key causes of complaints and set out how the organisation intends to address them.  (The Times*; The Guardian)


SC Johnson builds sustainable insecticide supply

The US manufacturer SC Johnson has partnered with the US Agency for International Development and the US based Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture to help Rwanda pyrethrum farmers increase their incomes while creating an environmentally and economically sustainable source of raw materials.  Pyrethrum is an effective insecticide extracted from the dried flower heads of chrysanthemums, which SC Johnson uses in some of its insecticide products.  The company said that the development of the Rwanda Pyrethrum Programme, which began in 2009, will focus on increasing both the production and quality of pyrethrum, as well as strengthening and expanding the capacity of the cooperative organizations that market the crops.  New and current producers will have access to best practices as well as the results of research and development being conducted in areas such as soil fertility management, improved weeding techniques and pest management protocol.  (Environmental Leader)

*Requires subscription