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23rd June 2022
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U.S. tech companies rescind job offers
Recent college graduates are having their nascent tech careers upended even before they begin as companies revoke job offers amid belt-tightening in response to four-decade-high inflation, the broad consequences of the war in Ukraine, and the ongoing pandemic. At least 40 recent college graduates have lost job offers in the past few weeks, according to LinkedIn posts and Google spreadsheets that circulated online to help those affected find new roles. As of Tuesday, 22 recent graduates were listed as having offers revoked by Twitter and nine people were listed on a separate spreadsheet for cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase. Organizations may be saving money in the short term, but they risk “potentially catastrophic” reputational damage, said Brian Kropp, distinguished vice president of Gartner's human resources practice. “Just think about how unfair that is to people you’re rescinding the offer from,” he said. “You’re putting them in a painful situation.”
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NLRB seeks broad order against Starbucks
Federal labor regulators have asked a court to force Starbucks to stop what they say is extensive illegal activity in response to a nationwide campaign in which workers at more than 150 corporate-owned stores have voted to unionize. In a petition filed Tuesday with U.S. District Court in Buffalo, officials with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accused the company of firing and disciplining union supporters; intimidating and threatening workers to discourage them from voting for the union; and effectively offering benefits to workers if they opposed the union. The agency is also seeking the reinstatement of seven Buffalo-area employees whom, it said, Starbucks had illegally forced out in retaliation for their union-organizing activities, and an order effectively recognizing the union in a Buffalo-area store where the union lost a vote despite strong initial support. Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesman, rejected the accusations. “As we have said previously, we believe these claims are false and will be prepared to defend our case,” he told the New York Times.
The case for turning off your Zoom camera
Workplace experts say turning off video call cameras could improve worker wellbeing and make meetings more efficient. "At the beginning of the pandemic, it made a lot of sense that people wanted to be on camera, because we were living under the premise that this was going to be a two-week pause of our lives – and so we were like, 'We want to see everybody, we want to connect'," says Allison Gabriel, professor of management and organizations at the University of Arizona, who has studied the effects of Zoom fatigue. But most workers now well know that leaving cameras on for everything can exacerbate Zoom fatigue: a tiredness linked to factors including fixating on your own on-camera appearance and the cognitive strain of trying to identify non-verbal cues that are much easier to interpret in person.  These distractions may also reduce productivity, if workers are "focusing on themselves and how they might be being perceived,” rather than the meeting itself, says Winny Shen, associate professor of organization studies at York University, Canada.
Walmart expands health services to address racial inequality
Walmart is expanding health care coverage for employees who want to enlist the services of a doula, a person trained to assist women during pregnancies, to address racial inequities in maternal care. After first offering doulas to employees in Georgia last year, the nation’s largest retailer said Wednesday that it will expand the same benefit to its employees in Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois. Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women, largely due to differences in the quality of health care, underlying chronic conditions and structural racism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Employing a doula as a part of a birthing team decreases C-sections by 50%, shortens the time of labor by 25% and decreases the need for other medical interventions by more than 50%, according to the National Black Doulas Association. Walmart said it chose to extend coverage to Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois because of the potential for instant impact for employees who live in those three states.
Former Tesla worker rejects $15m award
A Black former Tesla worker, who said he was the victim of racial abuse, rejected a $15m award after the amount was drastically cut by a judge. Owen Diaz, who worked at the electric carmaker’s plant in Fremont, California, said he faced "daily racist epithets."  Diaz was originally awarded $6.9m in damages for emotional distress and $130m in punitive damages in the case. A judge reduced that award by nearly 90% to $15m. Rejection of the award could mean a new trial in the case.
Ford chooses Valencia for new electric car plant
Ford has chosen a plant in Valencia in Spain to build its next generation electric vehicles in Europe. The U.S. automaker selected the site over a rival facility in Germany. The company plans to only sell electric cars in Europe by 2030, ahead of a planned EU ban from 2035 on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles. There will be "significant" job losses as part of its changing strategy, a Ford spokesperson told Reuters. Facilities that do not secure production orders for electric vehicles, such as the overlooked Saarlouis facility in Germany, which employs 4,600 workers, face the threat of closure once the EU ban comes into force. Ford has warned there will still be staffing cuts even for plants that are selected for electric vehicle assembly - including the Valencia plant, which employs 6,000 workers. Jim Farley, Ford's president and chief executive, said the automaker’s pivot to electric vehicles in Europe would require tough decisions. "The European auto industry is extremely competitive, and to thrive and grow we can never settle for less than unbelievably great products... [and] ultra-lean operations," he said.
The best cities to move to for diversity
Researchers have determined the best locations to move to for diversity by calculating a composite index based on equally-weighted indices of ethnic and racial diversity, birthplace diversity, and economic equality. The three best cities to move to for diversity are San Jose, CA; Tucson, AZ; and Aurora, CO, according to the research.
Mars CEO to step down
Mars chief executive Grant Reid will retire this year, and will be succeeded by Poul Weihrauch, the global head of its pet care business. The company said that, under Mr Reid's leadership, annual sales grew by more than 50% to $45bn and its global workforce more than doubled to 140,000.
Amazon trials new Alexa voice feature
At Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, the company demonstrated a feature that enables its Alexa voice assistant to emulate any voice. The company has developed a model that allows its voice assistant to produce a high-quality voice with “less than a minute of recorded audio", said Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for the Alexa team. He added that Amazon wants to make conversing with Alexa more natural in general, and has rolled out a series of features that enable its voice assistant to replicate more human-like dialogue, even to the point of asking a user questions. He said that goal is "not to be confused with the all-knowing, all-capable, uber artificial general intelligence," or AGI, which Alphabet's DeepMind unit and Elon Musk-co-founded OpenAI are seeking.
Swedish gaming firm hit by war is reorganizing
Stockholm-headquartered gaming company G5 Entertainment is overhauling its organizational footprint by opening offices in Georgia, Malta, Montenegro and Turkey after its 1,000-strong workforce, which was split evenly across Russia and Ukraine, was upended by the outbreak of war on February 24th. Vlad Suglobov, the company’s Russia-born CEO who himself is based in California, said the aim of the changes is to diversify the staff base and to offer safe relocation for those forced to flee their home countries. “We will still probably be Eastern European-focused in terms of developer talent,” Suglobov said. “That’s where the company grew out of and this is where people running the company are from.” G5 is a free-to-play gaming specialist with titles such as ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Jewels of Rome.’ The company has significantly more women customers than men.
German hotel industry says COVID mistakes can’t be repeated
The head of Germany’s DEHOGA hospitality body says lawmakers need to prepare now to be ready for the coming winter, as the country’s hotels seek to recover after the pandemic. "The mistakes of the past cannot be repeated," said DEHOGA president Guido Zoellick, as he urged the state and federal governments to issue clear rules and a unified course on COVID-19 policy for the winter. Zoellick said a lack of workers continues to be a major hurdle to recovery. He wants labor immigration rules for non-EU countries to be simplified. There were roughly 1 million full-time workers in the industry recorded in March 2022, he said - 63,700 fewer than the in same month in 2019 but 61,000 more than in March 2021. "This is encouraging and shows quite a few employees are returning and new employees are also being recruited," said Zoellick.
Gulf countries face skilled worker shortage
Gulf countries have some of the highest shortages of skilled workers in the Middle East, according to a new report. PwC’s survey of more than 1,500 employees across the Middle East found that three-quarters (75%) of respondents in Kuwait and 60% of respondents in Qatar said their country has a shortage of people with specialised skills. In Saudi Arabia, 58% of respondents acknowledged that there is a skilled labour shortage in their country, while 46% in the UAE shared the same view. Employers in the region recognize the importance of retaining staff with skills, the survey suggests. Thirty-eight per cent of respondents across the Middle East, slightly more than the global average, said their companies had increased salaries as a strategy to retain skilled talent. “This may reflect the increasing tendency of employers, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to raise salaries rather than hire scarce and therefore expensive foreign talent to address skills and labour shortages,” PwC said in its report.
Sheryl Sandberg is building out her foundation
Veteran Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has sought to hire a chief of staff and at least a dozen others as she prepares to begin a new chapter as a billionaire philanthropist. Sandberg, who has a net worth of $2.2bn, announced her plans to step down as the Meta-owned company's COO later this year after more than a decade at the business. The Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation largely focuses on women's issues. Bloomberg observes that in increasing her philanthropy, Sandberg joins prominent billionaire women, including MacKenzie Scott and Melinda French Gates, who have become household names for their giving in recent years.

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