The City stands accused of failing to modernise key aspects of its employment practices. The focus of the criticism is the area of discrimination against women. Two high profile cases in the past fortnight have highlighted the urgent need to bring the City in line with industry and make it a less hostile environment to women employees.
Last week, Kay Swinburne, a £300,000-a-year investment banker with Deutsche Bank, won her claim of sexual bias, constructive dismissal and breach of contract against her employer. And a fortnight ago, Aisling Sykes, a top banker with JP Morgan, also won her case for unfair dismissal against her firm. She claimed she lost her job when she became pregnant with her fourth child.
The danger is that the macho culture, which breeds such unfairness against women, could drive away talent from areas crucial to the UK economy. Official data published by the Office for National Statistics last week, reveals that unemployment is at its lowest for 20 years.
But is this good news? Well maybe not, because the big fall in the number of people claiming dole could push inflation to above the level that the Bank of England is comfortable with. Skill shortages appear to be driving up wages and excessive pay growth fuels inflation. Inflationary pressures would force the Bank to put up interest rates and ultimately higher cost of borrowing would hurt borrowers a truly vicious cycle.
Supermarket aims for lion's share of on-line shoppers
Tesco, the supermarket chain, has announced major expansion of its on-line home shopping. The company, which already enjoys the status of largest on-line grocery retailer in the world, is planning to create 7,000 new jobs by increasing the number of its stores offering online shopping threefold, from 100 to 300.
By 2004, retail analysts predict online retail business could be worth as much as £2.3bn. Tesco, which already has a quarter of a million customers, is proactively positioning itself to seize the lion's share of new Internet grocery business going forward. Tesco Direct has been capturing new ground from other retailers and expansion of its home shopping service would mean that each store would service a 2,000-customer radius.
Telecommunications firms fight over company split
Mannesmann, the German telecoms company, is continuing to play Oliver as part of its defence strategy against Vodafone's host