Newsletter October 2008
The Church of England put a "prayer for the current financial situation" on the prayers page of its website and saw traffic increase by almost a third. On Friday, it was viewed 8,000 times.
The Rev Simon Butler, a curate at St Giles church in Nottingham, said he had seen more young professionals at services since the crisis began. "I would guess that some of them would be looking to things of a spiritual nature because things of a material nature are looking a bit shaky," he said.
Lord God, we live in disturbing days:
across the world,
jobs are taken away,
and fragile security is under threat.
Loving God, meet us in our fear and hear our prayer:
be a tower of strength amidst the shifting sands,
and a light in the darkness;
help us receive your gift of peace,
and fix our hearts where true joys are to be found,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Times are tough but the UK’s biggest private-sector employer is adding jobs and re-training the long-term unemployed
Times are tough – even at Tesco – but not as tough as elsewhere in British retail, according to figures out last week which showed the grocery giant had racked up an 11% rise in first-half profits despite what chief executive Sir Terry Leahy called “powerful economic headwinds”. The announcement came as Tesco, which is already the UK’s biggest private-sector employer, would be adding another 6,000 jobs to its 273,000 strong workforce.
“I started with Tesco as a Saturday boy. I became a store manager, then a regional manager and now I’m the retail director and a board member,” said David Potts who, like Leahy, started work as a shelf stacker.
Strong staff retention and the home-grown nature of Tesco management are some of the retailer’s key strengths, according to analysts.
According to Chloe Smith of The Grocer, the trade magazine for the sector, Tesco’s “classlessness” and diversity works on the level of both products and employment. She said: “Tesco has avoided being associated with any one economic group like those who shop at Waitrose or Asda. You can shop in Tesco without feeling that you are making a statement about yourself.”
Management has encouraged the ethos that “whatever your background, you can get on,” said Potts. In addition to traditional graduate-training schemes, Tesco has 1,000 apprenticeships as well as projects to bring the long-term unemployed back into work.
“We redevelop brownfield sites and in those areas operate schemes for people who have been out of work for a long time – or who have never worked,” said Potts. “One of my most satisfying moments came when a man who had been on one of those schemes told me he’d had the confidence to go to his daughter’s school open day for the first time.”
With more than a fifth of its workforce coming from the overfifties, Tesco is also an important employer of older people. The company has no fixed retirement age and has seen the number of oversixties on the payroll double in the past 10 years. Age and experience may bring better customer service but most late-joiners will not at first have seen employment with Tesco as a career.
Personnel manager Linda Avis admitted: “We have a lot of people who join us as a second career. They often think they’re coming as a stop-gap to get some money but stay for years and retrain in a new area. We take a significant number of ex-Service people, for example.”
About 20% of the staff enrolled in the company’s Options career-development plan are over 50.
Retail analysts attribute Tesco’s success to innovation and data-driven customer information, applied with an efficiency that can sometimes appear inflexible. Kasoulis said: “Tesco has been at the forefront of the loyalty card, Sunday trading, large out-of-town shops that sell other goods in addition to food, and smaller city-centre stores.”
In a business that now accounts for £1 in every £8 spent on the high street there is little room for quirks and deviation, either instore or in its employment practices. “Our benefits package is market leading, but not flash,” said Avis.
With Tesco’s announcement that it will buy the remaining half of its own banking operation from Royal Bank of Scotland, the likelihood of Tesco becoming a serious financial-services employer appears to be not far off.
However, with scale and increased size comes greater risks, retail experts warn. “Tesco mustn’t rest on its laurels,” said Kasoulis. “The top people still have the ethos that they are a small food retailer, fighting its way to the top. They have an advanced sense of paranoia, and keep everyone focused on what the customer wants. In the current climate that is probably the right way to be.”
From The Sunday Times
October 5, 2008
Diversiton to launch specialist support programme - ‘Re-think’
Unemployment soared and markets plummeted yesterday as the world’s biggest economies braced themselves for a prolonged recession.
The number of people out of work in Britain will rise to three million within two years, economists forecast, as unemployment surged at its fastest rate for 17 years. David Blanchflower, a member of the Bank of England’s rate-setting committee, said that the figure could exceed two million by Christmas.
Diversiton’s new ‘Re-think’ programme is a positive response to the stressful reality of redundancy (or possible redundancy) at this difficult time. ‘Re-think’ is a development process that helps individuals to detail their personal objectives and to set a clear course for the future – one that not only deals with career and work – but also relationships, family, purpose, direction and priorities, etc. ‘Re-think’ encourages participants to consider the ‘next job’ question in the context of life and happiness, where they going and why.
Participants achieve a high level of self understanding by undertaking one reflective exercise each day that relates to their own situation. Each programme is tailor made to individual needs as participants can choose 30 exercises from the full range of 90. ‘Re-think’ is therefore appropriate for all levels of personnel. As well as the daily exercises there is ongoing personal and email support from a dedicated ‘Re-think’ facilitator.
‘Re-think’ is ideal for helping to establish the overall framework for the next career decision - one that can then be supported by traditional re-skilling, job search and placement activities as appropriate.
Diversiton is delivering a number of pilots beginning in January 2009 – ideal not only for employees facing redundancy, but those approaching retirement or those seeking to take a close look at their career development.
If your organisation would like more information on the ‘Re-think’ pilots please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Gossip, alimony and the principles of equality
The equality interest in the break-up of Madonna and Ritchie is whether he will claim the share of his wife's fortune to which he is legally entitled. Alimony is one thing when the beneficiary is the wife of a rich man, quite another if the claimant is a man. But Ritchie can claim to have subordinated his career to his wife's and helped to raise their child. If he wins custody of their son and an equal share of her assets, it would do more to advance the principles of equality than his wife's entire career.
From The Times
October 16, 2008
Encouraging diversity is key stage for increasing innovation
A lot of clichés are being banded about telling us all that we will have to be creative and innovative to survive. Few commentators are creative enough to tell us how we go about doing this effectively, though.
Luckily, the Harvard Business Review offers practical advice on how managers can be creative and foster an innovative environment.
The six key stages to increasing innovation are: remembering that you are not the sole fount of ideas; enabling collaboration; encouraging diversity; mapping the stages of creativity; accepting the inevitability of failure; and motivating with intellectual challenges. All of which can probably be briefly summarised as encouraging people to think for themselves.
From The Times
October 15, 2008
Western Christian woman loses discrimination case
The news channel Al Jazeera has successfully fought off a £1 million claim that it discriminated against a former employee because she was a Western, Christian woman and forced her out of her job.
The high profile case was brought by Jo Burgin, who was employed as Head of Planning at the international news channel's Doha headquarters between 2005 and 2007.
She alleged unfair dismissal and discrimination on the grounds of sex, race and religion or belief.
But an employment tribunal has dismissed her claims. Yesterday Anas Al Merstani, Head of Al Jazeera's legal department, said: "This is an important victory for Al Jazeera, and publicly clears its name of any discrimination against an employee.
"As a global organisation with offices in over 100 countries we welcome people from all walks of life and will strenuously contest claims that we do not."
Ms Burgin, 49, worked at Al Jazeera International Ltd alongside her husband, Steve Clark, who was Director of News. Al Jazeera’s lawyers argued that this situation became untenable as staff felt Ms Burgin's management style was influenced by her relationship with Mr Clark. As a result she was offered a role in a different department. Ms Burgin declined to take this role and her contract with Al Jazeera was terminated in April 2007.
From Times Online
October 16, 2008
Monday 24th November 2008 - London
Diversiton’s half day training session provides a range of insights and practical support for those wishing to develop greater awareness of religion and belief – particularly in the context of the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations (2003).
The next date for Diversiton's award winning half day training programme in Religion & Belief is on the 24th November 2008 in London.
If you have yet to test our training then this could be your ideal opportunity......
The Archbishop of Canterbury says theological differences separate Islam from Christianity
Dr Williams, speaking at an interfaith conference in Cambridge, said that it was possible for Islam and Christianity, two of the three Abrahamic faiths, to agree around the imperatives to love God and "love your neighbour". Muslims and Christians agree about the need to alleviate both poverty and suffering, he said.
Dr Williams was one of a number of leading Christian and Islamic scholars addressing the conference, A Common Word at Cambridge University. It marked the first anniversary of the publication of A Common Word Between Us and You, a letter from 138 Islamic scholars, clerics and intellectuals promoting understanding and tolerance between the two faiths.
Addressed to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders, the letter warned that the survival of the world could be at stake if Muslims and Christians could not make peace with each other.
"If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world - with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before - no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world's inhabitants.
"Our common future is at stake," the letter said. "The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake."
The conference will make recommendations on how the two faiths can work better together, to be unveiled at Lambeth Palace, the London office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, on Wednesday. The closer cooperation will not just be at the level of religious organisations but will be enacted across charities and secular bodies at all levels of society.
The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, who also addressed the conference, welcomed the Archbishop's speech. "It is clear from your response that you are fully prepared to enter into dialogue on a profound level. For our part we would like to tell you that we share your willingness for dialogue and that we take this great deal of common ground to be a foundation for promoting respect and understanding that will in turn lead to a deepening of our relationship. We hope this conference will result in new, practical, and groundbreaking recommendations," he said.
"Effective communication is our powerful tool for containing and managing crises.....Every action now in any place will affect others either positively or negatively. Isolation and seclusion are no longer an option. The only choice is to live together on this Earth. So what should we do? We must engage in dialogue and lay down foundations for it as God intended."
He said he hoped the two sides would be able to transcend dialogue and find partnership.
From Times Online
October 13, 2008
Carbon neutral calendar and paperless option welcomed
Diversiton has been praised by Local Authority Chiefs who are keen to cut down on waste paper in local councils. The web based calendar is not just a practical cost effective ‘green solution’ but at just £485 per organisation offers real value for money. Every employee and web visitor has unlimited access for 12 months.
The paper based calendar for 2009 will be carbon neutral.
Order your 2009 Diversity Calendar online at www.diversitonshop.com or call Celine on 02841 754777