July 2015

An impressive lady but competition is coming.

Published on: 23 Jul 2015

She’s an interesting lady.

Her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She’s 56 years old and has had over 150 different careers including being a lifeguard, a doctor and a Spanish language teacher. Perhaps most impressively of all she travelled into space in 1965, four years before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

She’s managed to do all of this despite being only 29 cm tall.

The Barbie doll is the centrepiece of many a child’s toy cupboard and it’s been estimated that over a billion of them have been sold in more than 150 countries since they were first introduced in 1959.

There have been a number of business issues faced by Barbie recently. Even though there’s an Accountant Barbie, I should in fact clarify that and say that there have been a number of business issues faced by Mattel, the owner of the Barbie brand.

Some of you may have heard of Bratz dolls.

Bratz dolls were a competitor to Barbie dolls back in the early 2000s and they were pretty successful. They were so successful that by 2004 they had taken more than 40% of the UK toy doll market and had in fact also taken the top spot for sales of dolls which had been held by Barbie since records began 10 years earlier.

In 2006 Mattel sued MGA Entertainment, the owners of the Bratz brand as they claimed that the Bratz doll creator Carter Bryant was working for Mattel when he developed the idea behind Bratz.

In essence Mattel argued that as they were paying Mr Bryant to work on Mattel matters and not those of another venture the Bratz doll idea was Mattel’s and not MGAs.

Back in 2008 a Californian judge agreed with Mattel’s claim and told MGA to stop making and selling Bratz dolls and also ordered MGA Entertainment to pay Mattel $100 million in damages.

However, MGA weren’t happy with this decision and the case went back to court in 2011 where a federal jury delivered a verdict supporting MGA.

Now whilst the court cases between Mattel and MGA are all very interesting, if you’re a parent of a young daughter what is probably of more relevance is that the Bratz dolls are being relaunched onto the market this coming weekend.

So, if you’re queuing up with your daughter to buy a Bratz doll this weekend you can impress her with your background knowledge of who owns the brand as well as let her know that the UK doll market is the second largest and second fastest growing segment of the UK toy market and has grown 11% over the last year to reach £288m.

I’m sure she’ll be very impressed with your discussion and won’t at all be interested in the doll she’s about to get….

How did he get away with this?

Published on: 19 Jul 2015

Picture the scene. It’s the office Christmas party and you’ve had a couple of drinks. You’re relaxed and are having a good time.

So far so good but what would you do next?

Would you:

a) Carry on in a chilled relaxed way to enjoy yourself and celebrate the festive period, or

b) Drink too much, tell one of the directors of the company and a senior project manager to (rude word removed so as not to offend any of our readers) off, make a female colleague cry by telling her that she was a stuck up (another rude word deleted), keep on pestering another female colleague to go horse riding together, hold another female colleague’s face in your hands and kiss her on the mouth and then finish the evening off by asking another female colleague what colour underwear she was wearing.

Whilst most normal people would opt for option a), Stephen Keenan, a team leader at Leighton Boral and Amey Joint Venture in Australia chose option b).

Mr Keenhan had reportedly had about 10 beers and one vodka and was by all accounts extremely drunk.

Telling a director to “go forth and multiply” as well as insulting female colleagues and kissing them against their wishes isn’t the most impressive way to act during a Christmas party and it was probably no surprise when he was called into the office on his return to work after the Christmas break to be told that he would be dismissed for sexual harassment.

However, what will probably come as a bit of a surprise though was that he made a claim for unfair dismissal at the Australian Fair Work Commission (FWC) and surprisingly enough he actually won his case.

Yes, despite insulting a number of his colleagues and trying to kiss a female colleague against her wishes he won his case for unfair dismissal.

Adam Hatcher, a vice-president at the FWC found that none of the incidents were valid grounds for dismissal and concluded that Mr Keenan had been unfairly dismissed.

The FWC tribunal found that there was no evidence the board member took offence or remembered the incident. They also found that proposing to meet up with a colleague was not sexual harassment and the kiss occurred in the upstairs bar after the function had officially ended. As a result it was not connected to Mr Keenan’s employment.

Mr Hatcher also said that “In my view, it is contradictory and self-defeating for an employer to require compliance with its usual standards of behaviour at a function but at the same time to allow the unlimited service of free alcohol at the function,”

In other words, the employee couldn’t be held responsible as the employer had partly contributed to the actions by serving unlimited free drinks.

Now whilst Mr Keenhan is no doubt pretty happy about the decision (and in fact will probably head out for a few celebratory drinks…), the decision of the tribunal is causing a fair amount of concern for some people in Australia. After all, the fact that an employee’s unacceptable behaviour was excused due to free alcohol being supplied by the employer has led some to worry that to avoid such a situation in the future, Australian firms may stop providing free alcohol at their Christmas parties.

Dancing towards a big mistake.

Published on: 15 Jul 2015

When you’re at work it’s always worth taking a step back and doing a reality check every now and then to check that everything is ok.

Steve Pallet, a Jersey politician is no doubt a busy man but he should have taken a step back to review things a couple of weeks ago.

Earlier this month, in what was probably one of the simpler tasks on his to-do list, he needed to fly from the UK to Bucharest, the capital of Romania to be present at the handover of the Dance World Cup.

This year’s Dance World Cup took place in Bucharest where nearly 3,000 competitors from 32 countries took place in the annual dance event.

Jersey is hosting next year’s Dance World Cup and Mr Pallet was flying to Bucharest to attend the official handover where he was due to make a speech and receive a special flag from his Romanian hosts marking the fact that Jersey will be hosting the next World Cup.

You’re probably thinking that there’s nothing particularly difficult about flying from one country to another to give a short speech, receive a flag, shake a few hands and no doubt have a nice meal and a couple of drinks.

Whilst most people would probably agree with the assumption that it was a fairly simple exercise, Mr Pallet decided to prove everyone wrong. Instead of flying to Bucharest in Romania he flew to Budapest, the capital of Hungary which is about 500 miles (800 km) short of where he should have been.

Mr Pallet only realised his mistake as his plane was coming in to land in Budapest. It was too late for him to arrange transport from Budapest to Bucharest and as a result he was unable to accept the official handover of the World Cup flag.

When the news of his error broke he pointed out that the flight booking had been made by a colleague of his but this isn’t really a particularly good excuse as it was him personally who got on a plane flying to the capital of Hungary expecting to land in Romania.

He did apologise though and said “It is really disappointing, I have to apologise for wasting taxpayers’ money and for letting down the Dance World Cup. I don’t know the exact cost as I’ve still got some figures to come back, but it won’t be less than £1,000. All I can do is apologise for what is a schoolboy error.”

He mentioned it was a “schoolboy error” but given Mr Pallet’s geographical knowledge (or rather, his lack of geographical knowledge), then I guess he probably made plenty of schoolboy errors in his geography lessons at school.

Is it a good thing to be smelling of beer?

Published on: 03 Jul 2015

I’ve checked the calendar and it’s July. It’s not April or to be more precise, it’s not 1 April.

It may sound like an April fool’s joke but it’s not.

Carlsberg, the famous Danish beer company has just released a new product.

“A new product?” I hear you say.

What would be a suitable new product for a beer company?

Some of you may be thinking that it’s a new flavour of beer or maybe a complimentary product such as a “stay chilled beer glass” but no, Carlsberg have taken the concept of brand extension a step further.

They have just announced the launch of a series of male grooming products. Yes, shampoo and body wash for men made out of Carlsberg beer.

In a partnership with cosmetics producer Urtegaarden, Carlsberg has launched a product range which contain the main ingredient found in Carlsberg lager (barley, hops and yeast) but instead of producing it in such a way that you drink it, it is produced in such a way that you rub it on your hair or body to wash.

Now, whilst some of us have no doubt ended up with beer on our hair and/or body when we were younger this time it would be a deliberate move to keep clean.

A survey conducted by Epinion found that 65% of men in the UK were daily groomers and nearly half of the men used their girlfriends or wives grooming products on a weekly basis.

Zoran Gojkovic, who not only has a great job title being “Director of Research at Carlsberg Laboratories”, was also quoted as saying “Men do care about looking good, but they often seem to lack alternatives to the more female-friendly beauty options available. And what better way to give them just that, than to introduce a grooming series made from beer?”

Each product in the Beer Beauty series contains 0.5 litres of real Carlsberg beer which is freeze-dried into powder and then mixed with organic ingredients in order to create products including shampoo, conditioner and body lotion.

More details can be found here and will this mean that wives and girlfriends the world over will no longer be criticising men when they say they “stink of beer”?

A very forward thinking leader…

Published on: 01 Jul 2015

She is the first female boss of a major accountancy company in the UK and Sacha Romanovitch is doing things differently.

At 47, Sacha who heads up Grant Thornton in the UK is one of the youngest leaders of a major City firm and has certainly got some innovative views in terms of how she plans to run Grant Thornton.

She has just announced a profit share scheme for the whole business which could boost salaries by 25%. She will oversee a “shared enterprise” scheme which will allow future profits to be shared between all of its 4,500 staff instead of being restricted to the most senior staff.

Ms Romanovitch was quoted as saying “The benchmark that we are working to is that in great organisations that do this, it ends up being between 10 and 25 per cent of a person’s salary. That is what they can potentially earn as a profit share. John Lewis [a prestigious UK department store] does it, Arup [an engineering firm] is the other one that does it really well.”

She has also announced plans to “crowd source” new business ideas and to consider allowing lower ranked staff to join board meetings.

In a move which will no doubt endear her to the team at Grant Thornton she has also agreed to cap her own salary. She has stated that her salary will be limited to a maximum of 20 times the average salary in the company.

This is an admirable move, especially when you consider that bosses of FTSE 100 firms (the largest 100 stock exchange quoted companies in the UK) have on average a salary which is 149 times the average salary in their respective firms.

In a recent newspaper interview Ms Romanovitch, who is a married mother of two and who works from home in the beautiful county of Devon on Fridays, said she was a fan of social media and thinks firms that restrict staff use of social media are wrong.

She said “A lot of firms don’t let their people use social media because they’re worried that they will say something they shouldn’t.

I find that a bit scary. I employ great people. If I was worried that they were going to say something on social media that they shouldn’t, I’d question whether I should employ them at all.”

Congratulations on a great start Sacha and if you’re interested, the marvellous photo of Sacha at the top of this article is from her twitter page which can be found here.

The ExP Group