Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 4:18pm

It's not plain sailing for Murray these days

Simon Murray (pictured), he of the Foreign Legion, Hutchison Whampoa and now Glencore, does not appear to be flavour of the month. He was taken to task recently for remarks he made during an interview with the The Sunday Telegraph on women in business. One of his choicer lines was that he wasn't keen on hiring young women, 'who are about to get married ... because I know they're going to get pregnant and they're going to go off for nine months'. The idea of the interview was to generate favourable publicity for Glencore, where he has just become non-executive chairman ahead of its listing. The resulting blowback has been less than positive.

In addition, we see that his re-election to the board of Hong Kong-listed Orient Overseas (International) (OOIL) wasn't exactly the shoo-in these matters normally are. While Kenneth Cambie was re-elected to the board with 99 per cent of the votes and Roger King 98.9 per cent, Murray received what amounts to a bit of a drubbing with 86.5 per cent in favour and 13.5 per cent against. Another shot across the bows perhaps.

After the financial crisis, the 'C-level' is back in demand

Demand in Asia for CEOs, CFOs and COOs - otherwise known as the 'C-level' - is on the increase for the first time since the financial crisis. For the past two years recruitment at this level has been virtually frozen, according to analysis by IIC Partners, an executive search organisation.

Demand for C-level and board candidates is strongest in the financial services, industrial and manufacturing, and consumer and retail sectors. The company's research also shows that there has been a 114 per cent increase in executive recruitment in the industrial and manufacturing sector in the Asia Pacific region from 2009-10, a 100 per cent increase in the technology sector over the same period and 480 per cent rise in the energy sector.

Demand for C-level searches during the first quarter of 2011 was strongest in the industrial and manufacturing sector, followed by financial services and consumer and retail. Growth in financial services in the Asia-Pacific region was up by 100 per cent in the first quarter compared with the comparable period last year.

The survey adds that the current environment for C-level talent has changed post-crash in that they can no longer expect an army of support staff. They also need to be able to demonstrate they are capable of rolling their sleeves up and can operate at all levels. Moreover, companies are taking longer to hire, sometimes up to a year compared with a few months previously.

You have been warned.

Foxconn feels the heat

Foxconn, the company that makes Apple's iPads, has come under fire from two NGOs for the inhuman working conditions it imposes on its workers.

Following a spate of suicides at its factories last year, workers have been 'encouraged to sign anti-suicide pledges' at the company's two factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, according to a report by The Guardian.

The research by The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour claims staff are being asked to work excessive overtime, despite a legal limit of 36 hours a month. It cites one payslip showing 98 hours of overtime worked in a month.

To meet the huge demand for iPads, workers were pressured to take off one day in 13. Workers who performed badly were publicly humiliated in front of co-workers. One reportedly was forced to write a 'confession' letter after illicitly using a hair dryer in the dormitory.

The management's response to the claims was that overtime was worked voluntarily, while Apple says it is committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility throughout its supply base.

Red faces at Orange

There is embarrassment at mobile phone company Orange, according to People Management magazine, on account of the dismay it caused 40 of its staff at its Darlington office in the north of England. The workers were offered the option of either being made redundant or making the 11,000-kilometre trek to Manila, where the company's night operations were being transferred.

Workers say they were offered GBP200 (HK$2,560) a month plus a 'generous rice allowance.' Orange has apologised to the staff, citing a 'human resources error'. Under British employment law, the firm is obliged to offer workers the option of moving with the job but the company concedes the matter was handled insensitively.