Top Stories

February 03, 2016


Yahoo challenged in court over employee rankings, alleged gender discrimination

A lawsuit filed 1 February in US district court accuses Yahoo of routinely manipulating its employee rating system to fire hundreds of people without just cause. The allegations revolve around Yahoo’s use of quarterly performance reviews, by which every employee is ranked on a scale of 1-5. Former employee Gregory Anderson alleges not only that Yahoo violated the law by failing to give advanced notice of layoffs, but that Mayer “encouraged and fostered” the use of the review programme to discriminate against male employees. As of July 2015, Yahoo’s workforce was 62 percent male, with 76 percent of leadership roles filled by men. Despite this disparity, Anderson says Yahoo’s management “intentionally hired and promoted women because of their gender, while terminating, demoting or laying off male employees”.

The lawsuit comes as Yahoo morale hits new lows. More than one-third of the company’s work force has left voluntarily or involuntarily over the last year. In a statement, Yahoo defended its rating system, which Mayer adopted on the recommendation of consultants McKinsey & Company. Similar systems were once widely used in corporate America, and companies like Amazon still employ analogous methods. But others, like General Electric and Microsoft, have dropped such rankings as a tool for routine firings because of their corrosive effect on productivity and employee morale. (Guardian; New York Times)

Responsible Investment

Report: Green bond issuance could exceed US $50 billion this year

The global agreement reached at the climate summit in Paris could prompt the amount of bonds this year issued to finance low-carbon projects to exceed US $50 billion, Moody’s Investor Service said on Tuesday. This would follow a record US $42.4 billion issuance in 2015. The proceeds from so-called green bonds help finance projects such as renewable energy, the energy efficiency sector, green transport and wastewater treatment. The green bond market is still a tiny part of the overall bond market. Although green bonds are no different from other bonds, they must finance environmentally sound projects, but there are differing views across the world on what that means. (Reuters)


EU and US reach an agreement on data sharing

European officials on Tuesday agreed to a deal with the United States that would let Google, Amazon and thousands of other businesses continue moving people’s digital data, including social media posts and financial information, back and forth across the Atlantic. The data-transfer agreement comes after the original data-sharing safe harbour agreement from 2000 was struck down by the European court of justice, following legal action by an Austrian privacy campaigner over the Snowden revelations. With billions of dollars of business potentially at stake, the data-transfer deal was the result of more than three months of often tense negotiations where policymakers clashed over what level of privacy individuals can expect when companies and government agencies follow ever-expanding digital footprints. The new EU-US privacy shield will allow companies to transfer and process EU citizens’ data in the US given certain privacy guarantees. (New York Times, Guardian)


How retailers can harness green buildings to boost profits

New research released Monday by the World Green Building Council suggests retailers are missing a big opportunity to understand how the retail environment can affect the enjoyment of both staff and customers. It draws together key research into the impact of retail environments around the world on the satisfaction of customers and retail staff, concluding that greener buildings often equal happier customers, and therefore greater revenues. The study focuses on a broad definition of the so-called ‘green buildings’.  “You cannot have a building that is green and does not support the health and well-being of the people inside it,” explained Jonathan Laski, director of global projects and partnerships at the World Green Building Council. The study presents numerous examples of environmentally friendly stores often drawing some of the highest consumer satisfaction ratings, such as Marks & Spencer’s ‘Sustainable Learning Store’. (GreenBiz)


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