Top Stories

June 07, 2018

Corporate Governance

Alphabet shareholders reject diversity proposal backed by employees

Alphabet’s shareholders, including top executives, have voted down several proposals and subsequently defeated campaigns to tie pay to diversity goals and to get the Google parent to provide more data about efforts to moderate user-generated content. The shareholder proposals had centred on some of Google’s biggest issues outside of the antitrust scrutiny it is facing at home and abroad. Employees and shareholders have challenged the company to address the persistent under-representation of women and racial minorities in the company’s US workforce relative to the national population. Google is fighting multiple lawsuits from ex-employees accusing the tech giant of discriminating against women in pay and promotions. Employees have also demanded that the company do more to promote civil discourse on the company’s internal online message boards. (Reuters)


Report: Green economy now worth as much as fossil fuel sector

The green economy now holds roughly the same market share as the fossil fuel sector, according to market analysts FTSE Russell. In a report released by FTSE Russell, 6 percent of globally listed equity was derived from renewable and alternative energy, energy efficiency, water, waste and pollution services. This “green economy” was now worth approximately $4 trillion, roughly the same as the fossil fuel sector. The green economy is also growing, the analysts said, in contrast to fossil fuels, which has shrunk. FTSE Russell found that if the sustainable economy maintained its current course, it could represent 7 percent of the global market capitalisation by 2030. The green economy was widely spread across companies of different size and nature, it also covered a large geographical range. The energy industry comprises more than half of the green economy. Food and agriculture, water and transport are other important sectors. (Climate Change News)

Report: All new diesel cars fail EU emissions standards

The environmental group responsible for exposing the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal has published a study concluding that even the newest, cleanest diesel-engine vehicles fail to meet EU standards in real-world driving conditions. The International Council on Clean Transportation, a US non-profit organisation, found “a striking confirmation of [the] worst fears about diesel cars”. On average, even the worst-rated petrol vehicles driven in the real world “were within 1.5 times the type-approval limit”, whereas the most environmentally friendly, Euro 6 diesel vehicles – the standard to which all new cars introduced since 2014 must adhere – were “more than twice the type-approval limits”. The study is important because it contests what car manufacturers have been saying in the past year as they push back against the prospect of diesel bans in European cities. The data does not indicate that any of the carmakers are violating the law or cheating the tests. Rather, it is meant to be an educational tool for consumers and municipalities that want to understand the scope of the problem. (Financial Times*)

Technology & Innovation

Microsoft sinks data centre off Scottish coast

Microsoft has sunk a data centre in the sea off Orkney, Scotland to investigate whether it can boost energy efficiency. The data centre, a white cylinder containing computers, could sit on the sea floor for up to five years. An undersea cable brings the data centre power and takes its data to the shore and the wider internet – but if the computers onboard break, they cannot be repaired. Orkney was chosen because it is a major centre for renewable energy research. The theory is that the cost of cooling the computers will be cut by placing them underwater. If the project proves a success, Microsoft envisages sinking groups of five of these cylinders and being able to deploy a data centre offshore in 90 days, whereas it could take years on land. (BBC)


Johnson & Johnson announces progress towards Health for Humanity goals

Johnson & Johnson has released its 2017 Health for Humanity Report, demonstrating its approach and the considerable progress it has made toward an ambitious social, environmental and governance commitment to advance the company’s mission to drive better health for all. Highlights from 2017 include introducing a new global standard for parental leave, with employees across the world are eligible to take at least eight weeks paid parental leave for birth or adoption, and reaching 25% electricity use from renewable energy sources across the company. “Our work pushes for healthier societies and serves as a reminder that our job is not yet done. We must continue to raise the bar for ourselves and for the healthcare industry at large, so we can continue to earn our place in people’s hearts and minds everywhere,” said Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson. (PR Newswire)


*Subscription required

Image source: West coast of Orkney by Owen Robertson on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.