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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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REPEAT-BMO Survey: Canadians Plan to Spend an Average of $107 on Mother’s Day-Up 27 Per Cent from 2012

Category : World News

- Mom versus Dad: Canadians expect to spend slightly less for Father’s Day

- The majority will give mom a gift, while more than half plan to call or spend time with her to celebrate Mother’s Day

- Men plan to spend more than women for both Mom and Dad

Read more from the original source: REPEAT-BMO Survey: Canadians Plan to Spend an Average of $107 on Mother’s Day-Up 27 Per Cent from 2012

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The cultural shift to get more women into boardrooms must begin at start-up level

Category : Business

Just 7% of executive directors in FTSE 100 companies are female. For the situation to improve, more women need to engage with businesses at start-up and SME level

The UK has many great examples of female entrepreneurs, just look at Karren Brady, Annabel Karmel and JK Rowling to name a few. These highly successful women operate in a range of industries and have pushed through a number of boundaries to get where they are.

Many people’s first management experiences occur while they are in small or start-up companies (SMEs). However, there are fewer women than men in the UK creating small businesses. The country has a strong, high-performing SME sector, with 99.9% of all businesses falling into this category. SMEs employ an estimated 13.8 million people, accounting for 58.5% of the total private sector workforce. Small business activity is a key driver of economic success, with SMEs contributing almost as much as large businesses to UK output (48.3% of gross value added) and turnover (48.8%). The shift towards getting more women into UK boardrooms starts here.

Women are much less likely than men to be involved in the setting up and running of businesses according to Office for National Statistics self-employment data. Of the 4.2 million people in the UK who report that they were self-employed, 71% were men and 29% women. However, this is still an improvement on the percentage of women who sit on Britain’s boards.

The lack of women in boardrooms is self-perpetuating, which is why we must change our business ethos at start-up level. Often, chief executives seek out people like themselves to be their colleagues and therefore their future replacements: this is only human nature. It is no coincidence that women are far better represented on the boards of companies that have been founded by women.

Interestingly, I’ve noticed that women approach business differently to their male counter-parts. They’re known to be a lot more cautious and intuitive, and I find that this can add a new dynamic to a business. Personally, I look forward to working with female entrepreneurs – their approach and professionalism has been instrumental to the success of many businesses.

Anyone, no matter the gender, can be an entrepreneur if they have the right idea, the right plan for execution and passion. The idea alone is not what makes an entrepreneur; it’s what you do with the idea and how you execute it that really sets you apart. If more start-ups that are created by women this will result in an increase in the number of women in the boardroom. We must start by inspiring young people to aim for the very top, no matter their gender.

The Start-Up Loans Company, of which I am the chairman, was created last year to help young people bring their business dreams to life. Every young entrepreneur who receives a loan is also provided with a business mentor and access to discounted resources.

Of the first 2000 loans that have been awarded, 65.7% have gone to male and 34.3% to female applicants. This is already a considerable improvement on national self-employment statistics, which I hope will continue to increase.

Credit Suisse published a report in 2012 entitled: ‘Gender diversity and corporate performance’, that looked at nearly 2,400 American companies with and without female board members between 2005 and 2012. Their report discovered that the stock of companies with at least one female member on the board outperformed the stocks of companies with all male boards by 26% during that period.

With this in mind, can the UK afford to deny ourselves similar growth?

James Caan is an entrepreneur and chairman of the Start-Up Loans Company

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Creating an inclusive workplace – starting with white men

Category : Business

When one male-dominated company tackled gender diversity head on, they saw some interesting results and began to let go of the ‘myth’ of meritocracy

Taking advantage of workplace diversity is one of the critical challenges of leadership. Organisations with a track record of developing leaders from a particular background are likely to be suffering from diversity, inclusion and leadership problems at the same time.

Because of this, women continue to be under-represented at senior levels of most global corporations. Even when women do “all the right things” to advance their careers, Catalyst research shows they’re offered fewer of the “hot jobs” and sponsorship opportunities that can lead to promotion. Old-fashioned sexism and gender biases unintentionally embedded in talent management systems are largely to blame.

This isn’t a problem women can or should solve alone. It’s up to today’s business leaders – mostly men – to devise and implement effective strategies for tapping a labour pool comprising 50% women. With trends such as board diversity quotas and women outperforming men in the classroom, the cost of doing nothing will only increase.

The secret is the ability to create a sense of belonging and cohesion among all people in a business or organisation, without glossing over the differences in their experiences, values and skills. Finding commonalities while also understanding and leveraging our differences can yield big rewards.

Rockwell Automation, a global engineering company, is finding this out first-hand. The company wanted to increase the gender and ethnic diversity of its North American sales division, which was historically dominated by white men. But rather than embarking on a diversity recruitment initiative, it focused on changing its culture first.

Working with White Men as Full Diversity Partners, a leadership development organisation based in Oregon, Rockwell began from the premise that, like it or not, group identities matter.

Central to effectively leading people “like us” and people “different from us” is first understanding how our own group affiliations affect us and the ways in which others react to us. For the mostly white male leaders of Rockwell’s North American sales division, this meant grappling with something most white men don’t think of: what it means to be a white man.

Programme participants examined white male culture and experiences, and also practised skills such as critical thinking about how colleagues’ group memberships affect their work experiences, addressing rather than avoiding difficult points of difference among colleagues and actively seeking out perspectives of colleagues from different backgrounds.

A follow-up study by Catalyst on the impact of this program found early evidence of a cultural shift, including an increase in workplace civility and a decline in negative gossip. In addition, participants began letting go of the myth of meritocracy – that the best talent naturally rises to the top of organisations – and started to accept that group-based inequities exist. Importantly, managers also began to understand how they play an integral role in creating an inclusive work environment where all talent can be tapped and valued equally.

For Rockwell managers, recognising that staff were affected by and responsive to their identities as white males was a breakthrough that made them more inclusive and effective leaders. This is a critical lesson for other organisations: rather than feeling responsible for group-based inequities that they did not create, white male managers should feel empowered and equipped to lead the creation of an inclusive workplace.

The results at Rockwell are a testament to the power of turning old ideas about leadership upside-down and the importance of understanding and managing group identities through honest dialogue. Empowerment and skill-building, not shaming and blaming, are key to engaging men as advocates for change.

Jeanine Prime is vice president for research at Catalyst

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Media Advisory: Coalition Declares April 9 Equal Pay Day

Category : World News

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – April 9, 2013) - The Equal Pay Coalition is declaring April 9 Equal Pay Day and is launching a province-wide campaign to close Ontario’s 28 per cent pay gap between men and women.

The rest is here: Media Advisory: Coalition Declares April 9 Equal Pay Day

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Shortage of science graduates will thwart manufacturing-based recovery

Category : Business

Too few women studying science, maths and engineering and a curb on immigration make government hopes forlorn

The government’s hope that it can drive an economic recovery by growing the UK’s manufacturing industry will be thwarted by a lack of science and technology graduates, a report suggests.

The report – which concludes that there is an annual shortfall of 40,000 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates – has been released amid calls for a national campaign to boost the number of women in science.

A spokesman for the Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank, said the number of home-grown graduates in STEM subjects needs to increase by half just to keep science-related industries at their current size.

If the government would like to grow these sectors to drive a recovery at the same time as reducing migration, the shortfall balloons even further.

Nida Broughton, a senior economist at the SMF, said: “The government has made clear its aim to rebalance the UK economy towards manufacturing and away from financial services. But it has also pledged to reduce immigration. Our analysis shows that the gulf between skills and jobs makes these aims incompatible in the short-term.”

The manufacturers’ association, the EEF, estimates that 90% of Britain’s engineers are male and 80% of workers in the manufacturing industry are male. That compares with other sectors, where men are an average of 51% of the workforce.

The EEF notes that manufacturing companies in the FTSE 100 have a higher than average number of women on their boards. But with 81% of directorships at manufacturing companies held by men and 92% of executive directorships, the representation of women on boards is still very low.

EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler, said: “There is no getting away from the fact that women are substantially under-represented in manufacturing at a time when industry needs to be tapping every talent pool.

“Some will argue for quotas for women on boards but this would not address the underlying need for a substantial increase in the pipeline of women with engineering and other key skills going into industry.”

The EEF is calling for a national campaign to increase the number of women studying STEM topics to professional level, as well as to promote apprenticeships and other vocational routes into work.

According to the SMF, even if the same number of girls as boys studied STEM subjects beyond GCSE, there would still be a significant skills shortage. As well as boosting uptake of STEM subjects among girls, the SMF said the UK must improve results at GCSE level. It calls for the government to increase pay for science and maths teachers, relax the eligibility criteria for teacher training and encourage international recruitment of science and maths teachers in the short-term.

Hilary Devey: this much I know

Category : Business

The 56-year-old businesswoman and star of The Intern and Dragons’ Den on success, family tragedies and men

My earliest memory is of the bailiffs walking in and taking every stick of furniture we had. It felt like an injustice. After that I wanted to become a

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How John Lewis found fashion and became never knowingly underdressed

Category : Business

Clothing boss Peter Ruis tells how the stores known for good sense and slippers became the fashionistas’ darling

Fashionistas queuing round the block, a sell-out designer collection and breathless reviews by the style press. Can this really be John Lewis? As 84,700 partners working at the department stores celebrate their 17% bonus this weekend, they can rest assured they are back in fashion in a big way. A 9% rise in clothing sales helped drive a bumper year for John Lewis as it increased its market share, mainly at Marks & Spencer’s expense. The chain accounted for 2.1% of the UK clothing market in 2012, according to retail analysts Verdict, 10% up on a year before.

Once associated with sensible knitwear and cosy slippers, the 40-store chain has polished up its fashion credentials through designer collaborations, classy own-label products and the addition of upmarket brands that had previously steered clear of the store.

As a result, fashion sales topped £1.1bn last year – up from about £700m in 2005. That’s still only about a quarter of what Marks & Spencer sells, but it indicates the kind of growth that rivals can only dream of in the economic downturn.

Under the guidance of buying and brand director Peter Ruis, who took charge of fashion in 2007, John Lewis has created a buzz by recognising that shoppers of all ages now want to look trendy – and that older customers no longer want gold buttons and elasticated waistbands.

Sitting in the John Lewis Christmas room surrounded by some very classy Alice Temperley lingerie as well as cute sparkly kids’ dresses – and, of course, an array of tweed slippers – Ruis says: “Everything’s ageless these days.”

John Lewis’s Somerset by Alice Temperley range is a case in point. Now in its second season, the British designer’s collection is already the store’s biggest own-label and its fastest-selling brand ever.

But the fashionistas who line up outside the Oxford Street store and battle for popular items online form a broad church. “We see people in their 50s and 60s wearing it, as well as people in their 20s,” Ruis says.

Its new Kin brand also takes on that concept. Its collection of simple, relatively low-cost pieces includes outfits for children similar to those aimed at their parents and grandparents.

Anyway, Ruis says, the department store’s fans have been misidentified for years: “Historically we have been told that our customers are more affluent and a bit older, but increasingly our research has shown that to be a bit simplistic.”

He says John Lewis has strong market share in all age groups over 25, with a particular “sweet spot” among 35-to-44-year-olds. That demographic includes trendy urbanites who go to John Lewis to buy an iPad and stop to buy some clothes too. The store’s combination of homewares, technology, beauty and fashion has, Ruis says, been vital in helping the business through tough times on the high street.

Instead of worrying about ageing shoppers, he sees an opportunity in the fact that people feel less defined by their age: “The 40s and 50s are the prime of life. People are having kids later, and taking out mortgages later.”

A stylish and well-groomed 44 with three children aged between four and 11, Ruis is a good example of that modern John Lewis customer. He believes the generation that grew up loving brands such as Topshop, Whistles, Ted Baker and Topman don’t feel the need to swap to the classic labels that once formed the backbone of a typical department store.

So in the past seven years, John Lewis has edited out traditional, conservative labels such as German brand Basler and British “mother-of-the-bride” classics Jacques Vert and Alexon, and transformed itself into a kind of indoor high street, but with a grown-up aesthetic.

Ruis say the company works closely with brands to ensure their stock reflects what its customers want: “It’s less likely to be the most overt partygoing outfit of a 16-to-24-year-old. Those shoppers have less income, and the higher cost of going to university means there is less and less business there anyway.”

John Lewis fashion floors now mix the likes of Jaeger, Hobbs, Mango and Whistles with smaller brands such as Toast and Fenn Wright Manson. Prices have stretched up to Ralph Lauren levels, and down to the cheaper Kin.

Somerset and Kin are the department store’s newest and most adventurous creations, designed to suit a different kind of customer from those who would wear the classic John Lewis Collection or John Lewis & Co menswear.

“We have now started to find our feet on own brands. In the first few years we were getting the core range right, but last year we got a bit more feisty and fun,” Ruis says. “We have taken the customer with us, and the more fashionable we get, the more interested they become.”

He predicts that own-label will move up from about 30% of John Lewis fashion sales today to 35% or 40% as Somerset and Kin expand. This autumn, there will be a 50% bigger range of Kin clothing in stores and Somerset will expand into lingerie for Christmas, as well as cashmere, kidswear and even, eventually, home textiles and electricals.

Ruis is also in talks about bringing in a new designer name for menswear but says that despite the success of the Temperley range, he won’t be signing a whole catwalk of collaborators, Debenhams-style. “I’d hate to have 20 or 30 of them and lose our point of view,” Ruis says.

The Temperley range hasn’t been the only hot success. Ruis says sales of John Lewis & Co menswear shot up 20% after advertising featuring a long-haired bearded model proved controversial. A certain newspaper may have described the model as a “gingery tramp”, but Ruis says shoppers were won over by the clothing, and menswear sales increased faster than womenswear over the year.

Ruis, clad in a slimline Burberry Prorsum suit with a Richard James shirt and Grenson shoes, says men are more interested in fashion than they ever used to be. While it was once accepted that 80% of men’s clothes were bought by their partners and mums, now men in their 40s are happy to shop for themselves.

“There is no embarrassment about men’s fashions now. We used to talk about the pub factor – a man didn’t want people to point at what he was wearing, even if as a compliment. Like with men’s moisturiser, it isn’t an issue any more.”

Yet it’s not even metrosexual urbanites who are the main drivers behind John Lewis’s fashion explosion. What is? The internet, of course.

Sales of clothing in stores rose 3% last year, thanks partly to additional floor space. There are plans to add a further 10% of fashion square-footage by 2020 as John Lewis puts fashion into more stores. But that is all small beer compared with online growth.

In the year to 26 January, online fashion sales increased 41%, and the Temperley range sold three times as much on the internet as it did at the Oxford Street store. Ruis suggests it could have sold more had there been more stock in the warehouse.

There is no doubt that John Lewis’s highly effective online operation has brought the brand to a much wider customer base – people who would never have dreamed of buying their dream outfit in an emporium that also sells irons, bedlinen and curtain rails.

Yet Ruis believes John Lewis has just discovered the fashion in its bones. He says it is the story of the partnership and the way thousands of workers get a share of profits that really helped him persuade fashion brands to give the department store a whirl.

“What John Lewis has is quirkiness. It is unorthodox with a slight eccentricity to it. Great British brands of 150 years old work really well with fashion. We have always had that tradition, whether it’s Savile Row or Barbour. I always thought it could work well.”

Graduate pay gap – women paid less

Category : World News

Female graduates are still likely to earn thousands of pounds less than men, according to a new report.

Read more: Graduate pay gap – women paid less

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Burma’s oil rush: ‘Nothing else in this country gives you money like this’

Category : Business

Thousands seize chance to profit from abandoned wells in spirit of enterprise denied under former military regime

At the end of the last dirt road in Thayet, Maung Ko Oo, 25, is standing thigh-deep in a pit of crude oil, his longyi tied up high around his waist, a sweaty vein of black tar streaked across his forehead. His boss – a round-faced man sporting a baseball cap and ruby ring – is standing over him, shouting out orders to the half-dressed men relaying oil-filled buckets to the huge barrels lining their station.

As the early afternoon sun arcs high over these dusty hills in central Burma, the men climb atop the barrels and pour in the oil bucket by bucket, then roll the filled barrels up a ridge and into the back of a truck. All around them, thousands of workers are doing the same – digging for oil, drilling for oil, collecting the oil, and selling it off to local refineries – in unregulated, artisanal pits which they claim can fetch up to 300 barrels of crude oil a day, worth $3,000 (£2,000) at local market prices.

“This is easy money,” says boss Ko Win Shwe, a former miner who moved hundreds of miles to this settlement of huts and tents to find his fortune. He waves his hands to take in the barren earth stilettoed with oil-blackened drills and bares a toothy grin. “See all this land?” he says, his rubies glinting in the sun. “I bought all of it for $4,000 six months ago and struck lucky last week. Now I get 200 barrels a day. It’s easy! Such easy money.”

About 2,000 people already live here, but many more are arriving daily in search of opportunity, entrepreneurship and independence – all denied under the military regime that ruled the country for nearly 50 years. Oil was first discovered by the British in the 19th century, but the wells were abandoned, and now it is the enterprising locals who have tapped into this plentiful resource – some of whom claim to have earned millions of dollars doing so.

“We have our eyes and ears open, always, because wherever and whenever the government stops drilling, then we move in,” says Aung Win, a self-styled “oil boss” in a purple dress shirt, cowboy hat, flipflops and wraparound sunglasses. “Sometimes it can take a year for the oil to come out, so you just wait, and sometimes you have to move on. In my 24 years doing this, I’ve had to move 49 times to follow the oil.”

Here in Thayet, a township caked in dust about seven hours north of Rangoon, the oil rush began in 1989 after a farmer found crude near his land. Soon thousands of people had flooded the village, including students whose classes were cut short after the 1988 uprising. Those who have remained here since – along with a handful of wives and a fair few children – clamber under wooden derricks fashioned from bamboo and rope, the drills between them squelching out crude oil that runs into large open pits lined with tarpaulin.

Everywhere one looks, there is oil: in the fumes floating up in the midday heat, in the black rivulets snaking down the hillside, in the old barrels littering the land. But this is not the biggest “oil town”, says Aung Win: just a few hours away, roughly 20,000 drillers dig for crude at Su Win, and another 10,000 are in the neighbouring Khing Taung village.

Prospecting is a costly gamble. Land costs about $4,000 an acre, drills are $2,000, and permits – whose prices vary – must be purchased from the local refineries. Most drillers pool their resources and their profits, says boss Ko Win Shwe, as many start out drilling by hand until they can afford a generator and engine. “But it’s really paying off the officials that’s expensive,” says Aung Win, shaking his head. “They want to be taken out to sing karaoke and drink all night – it can cost $1,500 just for the bribe!”

The opportunities for wealth may be great, but there are no health and safety rules here, no environmental protection, no employee regulations.

Work continues 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and fires are a common hazard: earlier this month five men were killed when a cooking flame rollicked across the hills and nearly spread into the pits themselves.

Up at the local refinery small no-smoking signs, weathered and curling from the sun, dot the bamboo fence, but barrels of oil are stored in thatched huts and men drill nearby with cheroot (local cigars) at their lips.

“There are oil fields to the left and right all along the Irrawaddy river, and still so many basins all over [Burma] that we haven’t explored or developed yet – but the problem is that there is no good estimate of how much oil is in place,” says oil and gas expert KK Hlaing of Smart Technical Services, which helps local and international companies drill for oil. “There are around 14 basins in [Burma] but only three or four have been properly commercialised.”

As Burma has opened up under the presidency of Thein Sein, whose quasi-civilian government ended five decades of military rule in 2011, about 18 onshore blocks are now up for grabs by foreign and local firms looking to cash in on the nation’s great oil and gas reserves.

That alone may explain why government officers trailed the Guardian to various drilling sites and demanded to see travel visas, and why a very different oil rush is taking place in Rangoon.

At the Myanmar oil and gas summit earlier this month – which cost £1,500 a person to attend and was sponsored by Halliburton and the Malaysian oil firm Petronas, among others – executives spoke of the pros and cons of investing in Burma. “There is a boom here but, like in many other countries in the region, we’re the bad guys,” said one, warning that “big business can be blamed” for anything that goes wrong. He pointed to Burma’s lack of arbitration, dodgy track record in policing and the suspended Myitsone dam project as lessons to be studied.

For those drilling for oil near Thayet, however, short-term gains far outweigh any long-term fallout. Aung Win claims he lost $2m last year because of faulty drilling and dodgy business practices, and just last week lost another $70,000 at a well a few hours away. “But this is the only industry in Burma where you can lose $70,000, let alone make it,” Aung Win explains. “Nothing else in this country gives you money like this.”

Nearly everyone agrees. “It’s easy to lose the money if you don’t invest it in other areas, because sometimes you win and sometimes you lose,” says Zaw Min Tun, 37, a former farmer who has built a new house for his family and pipes his oil earnings into carwash businesses. “We just lost $50,000 because we drilled and couldn’t find any oil. But I would still recommend this business to anyone, with no reservations.”

It is impossible to verify the wealth of these seeming gamblers, but KK Hlaing says that it is highly unlikely any of them are able to tap more than 30 barrels a day due to the fact that most are drilling between 300 metres and 762 metres (1,000ft and 2,500ft), “and most of the good oil is 10,000ft or below”. In Thayet, many houses are painted in bright greens and blues and the women wear emerald and ruby earrings – but much of the village life still seems impoverished, with most villagers choosing to work at the local weapons and concrete factories instead of in the oil fields.

Still, the richest driller in this “oil town” is Kyi Nai, 41, a lithe man with a crew cut and betel-stained teeth who says he has earned $300,000 in the past six months alone. “I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and I’ve never hit oil like that,” he says with a grin. “My hard work finally paid off. My wife is happy – she likes money.”

BP set for trial over Gulf oil spill

Category : Business, World News

BP is set to face civil proceedings over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 men and caused one of the worst oil spills in history.

See the article here: BP set for trial over Gulf oil spill

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