Top Stories

August 19, 2014


UK CEOs earning 143 times more than company averages, pay study shows

The bosses of Britain’s 100 biggest listed companies are earning on average 143 times more than their staff, according to data that exposes the growing imbalance between how the nation’s workforce and its business leaders are rewarded. The study, published by the High Pay Centre, suggests the pay gap is widening. In 1998, a FTSE 100 boss was typically paid 47 times more than their workers. The disparity is greatest at mining company Rangold Resources, where boss Mark Bristow was paid £4.4 million last year, nearly 1,500 times that of the average employee. Measures to curb executive pay were introduced by business secretary Vince Cable last year. Companies must now publish a clear single figure for how much their senior executives earn each year, and shareholders have been given binding votes on pay. But campaigners are demanding more radical measures to tackle the widening gap. “The government needs to take more radical action on top pay to deliver a fair economy that ordinary people can have faith in”, said High Pay Centre director, Deborah Hargreaves. (Guardian)

Inclusive Business

Chick-fil-A and THRIVE partner to support economic sustainability for coffee farmers

US fast food chain Chick-fil-A has announced it is partnering with THRIVE Farmers Coffee to offer the industry’s first socially beneficial, specialty-grade coffee. THRIVE’s unique revenue sharing model means the sale of each cup of coffee directly supports its network of Central American family coffee farmers. This allows them to earn up to 10 times more than farmers earn in traditional or even fair trade revenue models, as payment for the sale of their coffee is not tied to volatile commodity markets. The coffee blend has been created specifically for the Chick-fil-A chain and is to be distributed across more than 1,800 restaurants. Michael Jones, founder and CEO of THRIVE Farmers, said: “Our partnership with Chick-fil-A is rooted in a shared commitment to providing quality coffee while impacting farmers and their communities”. Commenting on the collaboration, David Farmer, VP of product strategy and development for Chick-fil-A, said: “not only does the coffee taste great, we also found a partner who shares our belief that business can be bigger than the bottom line”. (Sustainable Brands)


Chinese rail project hires nearly 2,500 Kenyans

A Chinese construction firm is to recruit some 2,464 Kenyans for the initial work on its Standard Gauge Railway (SGS) project. Wen Gang, President Assistant of China Communications Construction Co, said that his company will impart skills and transfer technology to the locals so as to help the country in the manufacture of components for the SGR project locally. “We will continue recruiting local people to impart skills and also ensure transfer of technology”, said Gang. At the peak of the project over 30,000 locals will have been employed directly, while 40 percent of the work will be sub-contracted to local companies. Speaking at a meeting in Nairobi, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta lauded the support of the private sector in developing its infrastructure, noting that his government attached great importance to the improvement of infrastructure in its effort to grow the economy. The railway is intended to reduce the cost of doing business by reducing transport costs, helping Kenya to become a competitive business hub for the East African region and beyond. (

Technology & Innovation

Seeing purpose and profit in algae

An innovative Nevada company, Algae Systems, has implemented a pilot plant in Alabama that, it says, can turn a profit making diesel fuel from algae by simultaneously performing three other tasks: making clean water from municipal sewage (which it uses to fertilise the algae), using the carbon-heavy residue as fertiliser and generating valuable credits for advanced biofuels. If it works, the process could remove more carbon from the atmosphere than is added when the fuel is burned. “We think it is a really elegant solution”, said Matt Atwood, CEO of Algae Systems. The company sent the liquid from the process to Auburn University, where scientists added hydrogen to produce industry-grade diesel fuel. US The Department of Energy recently awarded a $4 million grant to a partnership led by SRI International for further work on Algae Systems’ hydrothermal processing system. Algae Systems estimates that it will cost $80 million to $100 million to move from the pilot plant to commercial-scale production. (New York Times)


Image source: “Spiral Railway” by Thomas Schoch / CC BY-SA 3.0