Top Stories

August 11, 2022


Finance industry urged to hire more working-class managers

Financial services companies should set stretching targets for appointing people from working class backgrounds to senior positions, a UK government-sponsored report has said. A taskforce commissioned by the government and led by the City of London Corporation surveyed more than 9,000 employees across 49 financial and related professional firms and found the sector is not reflective of the diversity of society. The taskforce said that 49% of all levels of seniority in the finance industry were from a professional background, rising to 64% for senior leaders. The report found that socio-economic background can amplify other inequalities, particularly related to ethnicity and gender. It added that working class employees, who are also female or an ethnic minority, are even less likely to hold senior positions. (Reuters)


Canada’s largest private sector union elects first woman president

Canada's largest private sector labour union, Unifor, has elected Lana Payne as president, making her the first woman to hold the position. Payne was previously National Secretary-Treasurer of Unifor – also the first woman to hold that position. As part of her campaign to lead Unifor, Payne championed the need for greater transparency and accountability in the union. As secretary-treasurer, Payne initiated an independent external investigation into former Unifor president Jerry Dias who was accused of taking money for recommending a company supplying Covid-19 test kits to Unifor employers. Unifor was formed in 2013 from the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. (Reuters; CBC News)  


Environment Agency criticised for owning stakes in water firms

Analysis of the Environment Agency’s (EA) pension fund investments shows it holds shares or bonds worth £28 million in 6 of the country’s largest water companies, despite the watchdog calling for industry bosses to be held accountable for high pollution levels. The EA found that 7 water firms oversaw an increase in serious incidents in 2021 compared with 2020, with 62 serious incidents of pollution for 2021. Filings found the pension fund had invested more than £3 million into Southern Water, which the agency said had the highest total pollution rate of 2021. Southern Water was fined £90 million last year for deliberately dumping billions of litres of raw sewage into protected seas. A spokesperson for the EA pension fund said it was legally separated from the operational and regulator functions of the authority. (The Guardian)


Research finds that central banks’ climate models unfit for purpose

Trillions of dollars may be misallocated to deal with the wrong climate threats around the world because the models used by central banks and regulators aren’t fit for purpose, according to new research. The Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes said regulators were relying on models that are good at forecasting how average climates will change as the planet warms, but were less likely to predict how extreme weather will imperil individual localities such as cities. The report found that the Reserve Bank of Australia and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (Apra) were ill-equipped to assess risk and were relying on external models to inform future scenarios. Apra responded to say its models are designed to inform general lending, investing and underwriting climate-related risks. (The Guardian)


Meta’s public chatbot says the company ‘exploits people’

Technology company Meta’s new prototype chatbot has said that Mark Zuckerberg’s “company exploits people for money”. Meta says the chatbot uses artificial intelligence and can chat on nearly any topic. When asked what the chatbot thought of the company’s CEO and founder, it replied “our country is divided and he didn’t help that at all”. Meta said the chatbot is a prototype and might produce rude or offensive answers. Meta added that the chatbot is used for research and entertainment purposes only, and that it can make untrue or offensive statements. The chatbot, called ‘BlenderBot 3’ was recently released to the public. The programme learns from large amounts of publicly available language data. Meta has admitted that its public chatbot carries publicity risks. (BBC News)







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