Top Stories

June 06, 2014



New mutual fund backs companies led by women

Former Bank of America president Sallie Krawcheck has created the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund, a mutual fund focused on investing in brands that have strong female leadership. Krawcheck says that accessibility drove the decision to create a mutual fund, which has an investment minimum of $1,000. “The investments in this fund are many of the global, brand-name companies that appeal to a broad audience of investors,” Krawcheck stated. Women hold 31% of board seats and 24% of senior management roles in companies in the fund, as compared to a global average of 11%. The 2014 Gender Balance Scorecard found that of the 1,164 executive committee members of America’s Top 100 companies, 83% are men.  Europe and Asia’s ratios are even more unbalanced, at 89% to 11% and 96% to 4%, respectively. The fund’s announcement also highlights that a recent Center for Talent Innovation research report noted that 77% of women globally – and more than half in the US – said they “want to invest in organisations with diversity in senior leadership.” (FastCompany)


Coca-Cola replenishes 108.5 billion litres of water back to communities

The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners have announced that they are on track to meet their 2020 water replenishment goal of safely retuning to communities and nature an equal amount of water used in their beverages and their production. In 2013, the companies balanced an estimated 68 percent of the water used in their finished beverages. Coca-Cola has been able to achieve this success by engaging in 509 diverse, locally-focused community water projects in more than 100 countries. Projects include providing safe water access and sanitation in schools, building rainwater harvesting structures, restoration of ponds, check dams and interventions focused on improving water use efficiency in agriculture. The Coca-Cola system also is working to upgrade its facilities to improve water use efficiency – improved 21.4 percent from 2004 to 2012 – and implementing source water protection plans and vulnerability assessments in all facilities globally. (CSRWire)

Human Rights

Vodafone reveals existence of secret wires that allow state surveillance

Vodafone has broken its silence on government surveillance and revealed the existence of secret wires that allow government agencies to listen to all conversations on its networks. Stating that the wires are widely used in some of the 29 countries in which it operates, the company is due to publish its first Law Enforcement Disclosure Report today. The report will be the most comprehensive survey yet in depicting how governments monitor the conversations and whereabouts of their people. The company, which owns mobile and fixed broadband networks, including the former Cable & Wireless business, has not named the countries involved because certain regimes could retaliate by imprisoning its staff. Vodafone is calling for all direct-access pipes to be disconnected, and for the laws that make them legal to be amended. It says governments should “discourage agencies and authorities from seeking direct access to an operator’s communications infrastructure without a lawful mandate”. (The Guardian)

Supply Chain

Bangladeshi farmers caught in row over $600,000 GM aubergine trial

Farmers growing a landmark genetically modified food crop – aubergine – in Bangladesh have found themselves at the centre of a power struggle between the government and activists. The growers say they have been subjected to intimidation and misinformation about the safety of their produce by anti-GM campaigners. But in an effort to get the crop out to farmers quickly, the Bangladeshi government agency behind the project appears not to have followed some stipulations of its license to release the crops. The 20 farms in four regions of the country have become the focus of intense interest. Farmers have received frequent visits and inquiries from green activists, researchers and journalists. “They come, take photographs of the field and leave but we don’t know what they are doing with it,” said Babul Khan, an aubergine farmer in Jamalpur. The $600,000 (£357,920) pilot scheme – which is owned and run by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute with support from USAid and Cornell University – is a pivotal moment for GM technology in south Asia. The new crop has so far has had mixed cultivation success in the pilot farms. (The Guardian)

Community Investment

The UPS Foundation donates $7.9 million to support diversity and economic empowerment

The UPS Foundation has announced that it will donate more than $7.9 million to 42 non-profit organisations supporting economic empowerment, education, inclusion and mentorship initiatives. The donations include a $1 million commitment of support over two years to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to provide leadership development opportunities to girls/young women around the world with a special emphasis on Latin America, Africa and the Arab world. “Education and leadership development are central to economic empowerment,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation. Projects will include entrepreneurism for minorities, offering access to financial services and loans, providing funding for scholarships and fellowships, providing career development and expanding mentorships programs. (UPS Foundation)


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