Friday, March 27, 2015 at 12pm

Business News Weekly Roundup: March 27 2015

MBA news

Progress made in terms of gender equality in UK boardrooms

In the UK, FTSE 100 firms are only (collectively) 17 female board members away from reaching a governmental end-of-year target of 25% representation, with the current figure of 23.5% standing at almost double what it was in 2011, when the target was first set (The Guardian). Some companies are doing better than others, with 59 firms still falling short of the 25% target. In the wider FTSE 250, progress is slower, with women only currently accounting for 18% of board members. 

There is more of a problem at the very top, where women only occupy 8.6% of executive roles in the FTSE 100 (the relative figure for the FTSE 250 is 4.6%) – indeed, The Guardian found that there are more men called John (or Jean) or David than women among chief executives and chairs.

To end on a positive note, business secretary Vince Cable stated that he believed that we would see female board representation reaching 33% by 2020 – considered to be a tipping point in terms of decision making.

‘Watershed moment’ for women in the US

The case brought against venture capitalist firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (backers of Amazon and Google), by HBS alumna Ellen Pao, who claims the firm paid her less than men, passed her over for promotion and fired her after she complained about a colleague’s behavior (she says she was pressured into having an affair), has been declared a ‘watershed moment’ by several high profile female executives (Bloomberg) – no matter what the verdict.

Pao is seeking US$16 million in compensation and lost wages. But, it is the precedent it could set in encouraging women to speak out, rather than any monetary figure, that is thought to really be the most significant consequence of the trial – particularly as it is thought that companies of this nature are not as often held to account in the same way as bigger corporations. 

Research by Babson College found that women accounted for 6% of venture capital partners in 2014, compared to 10% in 1999.

Update: Pao lost the case on all counts, with the jury ruling in favor of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on March 27.

New Google CFO to earn US$70 million by 2016

Google’s new chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, is to be paid US$70 million by 2016 (Bloomberg). The astronomical figure breaks down to a US$5 million signing bonus, a US$25 million stock grant this year and a US$40 million biennial stock grant in 2016, with a US$650,000 base salary serving as something of a cherry on top.

Porat, who will replace Patrick Pichette in the role at the end of May, currently occupies the same role at Morgan Stanley, where she has worked for 25 years.

Pepsi overtakes Diet Coke as the US’s second-favorite soft drink

In the ongoing battle for dominance in the chilled drinks cabinet, Pepsi has overtaken Diet Coke as the second-most popular soft drink in the US (BBC), with Coca-Cola maintaining its position at the top of the pile. Sales of Diet Coke fell by 6.5%, while Diet Pepsi suffered a similar fate, losing 5% of its sales, with concerns about the negative effects of artificial sweeteners thought to be behind the trend.

New York’s Beverage Marketing Corporation reported that the US beverage market was worth US$160 billion in 2014 overall, growing by 2.2%. However, fizzy drinks have suffered in recent years while bottled water has grown massively in popularity (Nestlé’s sales went up by 9% as a result of this). Coca-Cola and Pepsi both posted small increases in sales in 2014; the first reported rise since 2000 in the case of Coca-Cola. 

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Mansoor is a contributor to and former editor of TopMBA.com. He is a higher and business education specialist, who has been published in media outlets around the world. He studied English literature at BA and MA level and has a background in consumer journalism.

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