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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Labor Day 2013 Highlights

Labor Day 2013 kicks off with a message from Labor Secrtary Tom Perez: Labor Day 2013 is special. This year marks the centennial of the U.S. Department of Labor – 100 years of working for America’s workers. And this past week, our nation reaffirmed the ideals of the 1963 March on Washington. This transformational event, exactly 50 years ago, was just as much about labor rights as it was about civil rights. Read more: http://social.dol.gov/blog/a-labor-day-opportunity/

Secretary Perez 2013 Labor Rights Week Message: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8UBJzFzUJI&feature=youtu.be

The fast food strikes that began last November in New York City with walkouts by 200 workers expanded and spread to other cities in the spring and summer. On Thursday, thousands of workers in 60 cities went on a one-day strike. The demands were the same, only amplified — higher pay, to $15 an hour, and the right to organize without retaliation.
Read more at:http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/29/fast-food-workers-on-strike/

See also:
Steven Ashby, a University of Illinois professor who specializes in labor and employment relations, said these strikes have picked up momentum this year, partly because of their new approach. Instead of targeting one company, in Chicago, they target low-wage industries - fast food and retail - and strike for one day. - See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2013-08-28/poverty-issues/labor-day-2013-brings-new-twist-to-labor-movement/a34216-1#sthash.WHkq7SdY.dpuf

A new report by the AFL-CIO depicts how, even after four years since the recession officially ended, Latino workers continue to be disproportionally affected by the weak economic recovery.
The report released Thursday finds that as the U.S. economy recovers, Latinos are facing higher rates of unemployment and underemployment, as well as lower wages and bleak retirement prospects. The report comes on the heels of Labor Day, which will be celebrated on Monday.

InterContinental Hotels Groups's Holiday Inn Opens Out To Peru

IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), continues to increase the Holiday Inn® brand's footprint in Latin America with the signing of the new-build Holiday Inn Lima Airport hotel. The $24 million hotel will be located adjacent to the city's Jorge Chavez International Airport, and is being developed by the Pinasco family, who will also manage the hotel under the Operaciones Turisticas Peruanas S.A.C. entity. The organization has been working with IHG for many years and also owns and manages the Crowne Plaza® Lima hotel.

Peru’s expansion into international hotel brands will continue with the announcement of a Holiday Inn Airport. According to Gestion newspaper, the firm Operaciones Turisticas Peruanas is bringing the hotel chain to Lima and at least one other northern city.
Though no date has been set, the first hotel will be built in front of Jorge Chavez International airport in Callao with an estimated budget of $24 million.
Moscoso said the new hotel will be marketed to business travelers and a 5-star clientele.

Barclays' SmartPhone Pingit App Introduces Gift-Giving Operation to Help Charities

Barclays' smartphone app, Barclays Pingit, has launched a new 'donate with Gift Aid' function allowing consumers to maximise donations to their favourite charities using their mobile phones. With estimates suggesting that Gift Aid is worth nearly £1bn a year to charities and their donors, this instant mobile payment platform will ensure charities are able to fully benefit from each and every donation made to them using Barclays Pingit. Read more: http://www.4-traders.com/BARCLAYS-PLC-9583556/news/Barclays-PLC--Charities-set-to-benefit-as-Barclays-launches-Gift-A

When a user of the app scans a charity's QR code or chooses a charity from the business directory, they will be given the option to select Gift Aid, which claims back basic rate tax relief on a donation.
The new addition to the app will also now let charities track donations linked to associated campaigns - enabling them to better measure the success of initiatives.

David McHattie, head of charities, corporate banking, Barclays, said: "As [charities] explore new and innovative ways in which to engage and broaden their donor base, and in particular appeal to the next generation donor, Pingit could prove to be a key element in their evolving armoury.”
Macmillan Cancer Support, Dogs Trust and Charities Trust are some of the charities to make use of this new functionality.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

DOL's Women's Bureau and The Continuing Fight for Women's Rights in the Workplace

As America celebrates today Women’s Equality Day, a day proclaimed each year by the United States President to commemorate the granting of the vote to women throughout the country on an equal basis with men – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Equality_Day, it is fitting to look into the role the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau has played in the continous struggle of women
for equality and opportunity in the U.S. Workforce.

Since the publication of ”American Women,” the Women’s Bureau has continued to advocate for the nation’s working women. In the 1970s, the bureau threw its support behind the Equal Rights Amendment, which sought to guarantee equal rights for women. In 1984, the bureau launched a national initiative to educate the public about the Job Training Partnership Act and its potential to improve the economic status of women. In 1992, it joined the Employment and Training Administration in administering the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations program, to assist employers and labor unions in placing and retaining women in apprenticeship and nontraditional occupations. Read more: http://social.dol.gov/blog/champions-of-womens-work/

In America today, there is still a long way to go before women are large enough part of the corporate leadership ranks to shift the cultural expectations of behavior, and debunk stereotypes.

As discriminatory practices and negative gender stereotyping continue to take their toll on women, the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau – the only government agency whose mission is to advocate for the economic advancement of women – is more important than ever before. ( ) Many work on shop floors, in restaurants or in call centers. These women can’t afford to be judged on anything other than whether or not they get results. For these women, many who support their families as the sole breadwinner, our continuous demand for dignity and respect in their work lives is essential.

Random Thoughts on Women's Equality Day 2013

In this year's celebration of Women's Equality Day, established by a joint resolution of Congress, in1971 designating August 26 of each year as Women's Equality Day
various thoughts are shared, among others:

This year, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, where Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before a crowd of hundreds of thousands, and delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Among those visionary civil rights leaders were courageous women, like Dr. Dorothy Height, whom you can see standing on the podium supporting Dr. King as he speaks.
Whether through the Women’s Suffrage Movement, or the Civil Rights Movement, we are reminded of those women, and men who have worked so hard to make our country more equal. We look back at our history to inspire our future.

Monday marked Women’s Equality Day, 93 years to the day since the ratification of the 19th amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote. Women have made huge strides since then: they now make up about half of the workforce, hold half of middle management jobs, and are graduating college at rapid rates.
But much work remains to be done if women are to be truly made economically equal with their male colleagues. Read more: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/26/2528721/womens-equality-day-policies-help-make-women-economically-equal/

What does investing in women and in their ability to advocate for themselves mean for the world? In Caribou, Maine, where I'm from, girls had two choices when they were growing up - who they would marry and how many children they would have. There were many "invisible women" who lacked access to resources, powerful female role models and, above all, choice. My mother encouraged me to advocate for myself and for those who felt invisible. As the CEO of WomanCare Global, a non-profit women's health company focused on delivering high-quality healthcare products, I believe that empowering women by ensuring their reproductive choice is critical for women who simply want to provide a better quality of life for their children and ultimately, themselves. On a global scale, an investment in female empowerment ensures healthier, wealthier and better educated communities.

Office Depot Embarks On a Nationwide $1 Million Anti-Bullying Drive with One Direction

Executives of Boca Raton-based Office Depot shared the stage Monday with popular boy-band One Direction to announce a $1 million anti-bullying campaign at U.S. middle schools.
The retailer has been selling an exclusive line of One Direction back-to-school supplies and is funneling $1 million of those proceeds to its nonprofit arm for the campaign that kicks off this September. Read more: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-office-depot-antibullying-20130826,0,1268340.story

The Office Depot Foundation – the independent, nonprofit philanthropic arm of Office Depot - has engaged nationally known speaker Brooks Gibbs to present its “Be The Difference. Speak Up Against Bullying!” program in middle schools across the U.S. during the upcoming school year. A youth crisis counselor and bullying expert, Gibbs has spoken to more than 1 million students about bullying in the past decade. Gibbs’ “treat everyone like friends - even your enemies” philosophy enhances One Direction’s message of “Live Nice.”

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Nature Conservancy and AT&T: Partners in “Skip the Bag” Program

In its mission to help the environment, The Nature Conservancy has teamed up with AT&T in Hawaii and on the national level to launch an eco-friendly shopping experience that asks AT&T customers to “skip the bag” with their purchases, and in exchange AT&T will donate 10 cents to the nonprofit for each surrendered bag. The purpose of the promotion, which runs until Jan. 31, is to align with The Nature Conservancy’s mission of protecting and restoring lands and waters.

AT&T's Skip the Bag campaign is in support of The Nature Conservancy's efforts to protect and restore the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Nature Conservancy takes innovative action to invest in the planet's environmental and economic future, including Hawaii's fresh water and coral reefs. This is an effort to empower AT&T customers with sustainable choices, increase efficiency and minimize impact on the environment.

The Nature Conservancy and its partners in Hawaii are leading innovators in conservation technology to adapt and implement cutting-edge techniques in forest conservation. The Conservancy is expanding the conservation toolbox by developing, field testing, and piloting the most promising technologies and then quickly implementing them on the ground. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/att-and-the-nature-conservancy-team-up-to-help-hawaii-customers-skip-the-bag-220236911.html

Phillips 66 High on its Corporate Social Responsibility

In a survey of more than 20,800 business students at 320 colleges nationwide, Phillips 66 was ranked as the employer with the strongest degree of social responsibility. The oil company, formally based in Bartlesville, ranked ahead of organizations such as the Peace Corps and the American Cancer Society.
The students used Universum's employer-attractiveness tool to rank and categorize what makes companies more desirable to work for. Including compensation and reputation, corporate social responsibility is high among the attributes.
Read more at:

In a related news, Phillips 66 teamed with the Center for America to become the lead corporate sponsor of American Jobs for America's Heroes, a nonprofit group that helps National Guard members find jobs. See:

Phillipps66 is a growing energy manufacturing and logistics company based in Houston.

7 Reasons OFCCP is Good for Diversity in the Workplace

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is good for diversity companies and their employees. As its mission statement goes, “The purpose of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is to enforce, for the benefit of job seekers and wage earners, the contractual promise of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity required of those who do business with the Federal government." www.dol.gov/ofccp/aboutof.html

It has so far been successful as OFCCP efforts benefit real people through systemic contractor investigations and through partnerships with private industry and state and local agencies.
Read also: Successes www.dol.gov/ofccp/aboutof.html

Here then are the reasons OFCCP helps in ensuring diversity thrives in the workplace.

First, OFCCP has been helping women get into the field of construction, said to be America's 5th fifth-largest contributor to job creation, generating more than 300,000 jobs from 2009 through 2012, and end blatant discrimination that excludes women from working in construction and increasing their representation in the industry.
Data from BLS show that construction is a comparatively well-paying field.
Unfortunately, women have traditionally been excluded from entering these good jobs and continue to be denied their fair share of employment in the industry. Despite a modest increase between 1969 and 1990, BLS data (http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2011/ted_20110914.htm)for 2012 show that the percentage of construction jobs filled by women has declined to 2 percent.

Second, OFCCP continues to focus on entry-level jobs to determine whether there is adverse impact on a particular group when comparing applicants to hires. Read more at:
Third, OFCCP may pursue discrimination claims on behalf of groups that we might not traditionally think of as protected classes. e.g. males and whites. Read more at:
OFCCP also uncovers examples of discrimination every day during its compliance evaluations.
See examples at: www.dol.gov/ofccp/aboutof.html

OFCCP is making sure that affirmative action plans benefit veterans and persons with disabilities. According to the latest update on its final rule amending a contractor’s and subcontractor’s affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations towards protected veterans, on the afternoon of July 31, 2013, the OFCCP submitted its 503 rule for final OMB review. Therefore, OFCCP rules regarding affirmative action requirements for both veterans and individuals with disabilities are expected shortly.

OFCCP compliance officers have identified and successfully resolved over 80 cases of race- or gender-based pay discrimination, recovering $2.5 million in back pay and salary adjustments for about 1,200 workers, from the time President Obama established the National Equal Pay Task Force in January of 2010 to the present. Equal pay is a tough problem to tackle, as it’s both pervasive and most are quick to rationalize it away, and OFCCP helps resolve such issues.

Lastly, because of the requirements of Executive Order 11246 and other laws enforced by OFCCP, Federal contractors have changed the corporate climate in ways that are not statistically measurable. Corporate sensitivity to issues like sex and race harassment and wage discrimination has increased, as has the awareness of the benefits of a family friendly environment. Employers now view ability, not disability. http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/aa.htm

As many diversity companies continue to realize, when diversity thrives in the workplace, everyone is happy as the business continues to expand and succeed. Diversity is indeed an invaluable engine towards success in today's increasingly global culture.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Diageo Under New Leadership: Looking Ahead

Diageo, the UK-based world's leader in the premium drinks industry, is poised to steer the drinks giant's emerging markets ahead, under the leadership of its new chief executive, Ivan Menezes, who took over Paul Walsh last July 1st, envisioning Diageo's path hereon.

Ivan Menezes, the new chief executive of Diageo, is to put the company's emerging markets business at the heart of its strategy and believes the drinks giant could exceed its 2016 sales targets for the region. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/leisure/10043025/New-Diageo-chief-Ivan-Menezes-to-focusBy Kamal Ahmed6:16AM BST 08 May 2013

Ivan Menezes may now preside over a drinks company worth £49bn but the chief executive of Diageo still counts selling NescafĂ© instant coffee in the “wilds” of India among his career highlights.

New Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes might have been expected to bring some big ideas to the table when he took over from Paul Walsh at the helm of the world’s biggest drinks company one month ago. Presenting his first results to the City on Wednesday, Mr Menezes said he wants to make his mark at Diageo by “making this big company act small” and ensuring it remains “entrepreneurial” in responding to fast-changing trends in its 180 markets.

Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilty

Presently in the USA, there are still many disabled people who find themselves out of the labor force, and according to the Disability Statistics, www.disabilitystatistics.org, that in 2011, only an estimated 33.4 percent (plus or minus 0.30 percentage points) of non-institutionalized, male or female, with a disability, ages 21-64, all races, regardless of ethnicity, with all education levels in the United States were employed.

In a recent interview by Judy Woodruff with Delaware Governor Jack Markell, the current chairman of the National Governors Association, several benefits for hiring people with disability were presented by the governor. Gov. Markell, while acknowledging the fact that there are still many unemployed disabled people, remains optimistic that the situation will improve, and he gives several reasons “Hiring More People With Disabilities Is Good for the Bottom Line.”

In the interview, Gov. Markell stresses on the need “to focus on the ability and not on the disability.”
He explains, “And we have seen so many companies around the country benefit when they give people with disabilities a shot at employment. And that's really what this is all about.”
Read more:

In another event in Chicago, after a job fair in Arlington Heights for those with disabilities stalled, officials now plan to soon launch an informational campaign to promote the hiring of people with disabilities.
Ryan Danzinger, co-chair of the village's Commission for Citizens with Disabilities, said “"We want to let them know people are out there and there are programs and incentives to hire people."
Read more:

GE Healthcare's Cutting-Edge PET Technology

GEHealthcare, a leading global provider of transformational medical technologies and services to meet the demand for increased access, enhanced quality and more affordable healthcare around the world, recently announced that its Discovery* PET/CT 690 and PET VCAR 2.0 were used by Professor Patrick Flamen of the Institut Jules Bordet in Brussels in capturing the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 2013 "Image of the Year."

Professor Flamen's winning scan illustrated the effectiveness of radium-223 dichloride in treating bone metastases in breast cancer patients with bone-dominant disease. It was selected as the winning image from more than 2,000 studies.

SNMMI said it "chooses an image that exemplifies the most cutting-edge nuclear medicine or molecular imaging research today and that demonstrates the ability of molecular imaging to detect, diagnose and treat disease and help select the most appropriate therapy."

The GE Discovery PET/CT 690 is specially designed for speed, efficiency, and PET quantification accuracy. From short exam times through optimized sensitivity system design and comprehensive imaging protocols, the Discovery PET/CT 690 is the first platform focusing on quantification accuracy without compromise by providing intelligent PET and CT iterative reconstruction, respiratory motion management solutions, and integrated PET calibration technologies. PET VCAR 2.0 is the latest visualization and analytical monitoring solution featuring both PERCIST and EORTC standards helping physicians in assessing disease progression or response to therapy.

Another of GE Healthcare world-class imaging technology is its GE Healthcare Discovery PET/CT 710, which Helen Keller Hospital has recently acquired. The unit features 64 slice imaging capabilities and is designed to comfortably accommodate larger individuals. The PET/CT 710 combines the anatomical information from the CT and functional information from the PET to create a combined image during one scan.

The PET/CT 710 allows clinicians to monitor progress and fine tune treatment plans. The advantage for physicians is the ability to more accurately differentiate between benign and malignant tumors. Due to precise imaging capabilities, surgeons have the ability to determine the exact location to perform an invasive procedure. Radiation oncologists can pinpoint radiation fields to the degree that treatment reaches all the cancer cells with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Doug Arnold, Helen Keller Hospital president and CEO, said “We are thrilled to bring this state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment tool to the Shoals. The capabilities of the PET/CT 710 far surpass any currently in Northwest Alabama and will allow our patients to stay close to home.”
Such is GE Healthcare's commitment to providing the best lifecare solutions helping medical professionals deliver great, affordable healthcare to their patients.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Diageo Sustains Dominance in the Market with Its Green Advocacy

Diageo, the world's leader in the premium drinks industry, based in the United Kingdom, continues to dominate the world market in “celebrating life everyday, everywhere.” Established only in 1997, it has built an enviable business empire, and analysts say that Diageo has sustainable competitive advantage over its peers.

Analysts believe that Diageo's unmatched portfolio of spirits combined with its vast distribution network, including thousands of dedicated sales people in the US, would be very difficult and expensive for any competitor to duplicate. The company is making investments to grow its book of business in emerging markets such as India and China.

In the opinion of analysts, these competitive advantages and growth prospects justify an earnings valuation above the market average.

More than that, however, bioenergy technology is helping drive long-term growth. Renewable energy is playing an increasingly important role in Diageo's efforts to curb emissions, specifically the £17m bioenergy plant at the Roseisle Scotch whisky distillery in Speyside, Scotland, which won the award for Renewable Energy Project of the year at the 2013 BusinessGreen Leaders Awards last month.

The innovative plant combines a range of clean technologies, including anaerobic digestion to convert the draff and pot ale by-products into methane, which is fed into a biomass boiler, and clean water, which can be used for the malting process. Waste heat from the distilling process is also pumped to Diageo's Burghead maltings plant next door for reuse.

Diageo is now poised to open a giant £65m bioenergy plant at the Cameronbridge distillery in Scotland later this year, which will reduce total company CO2 emissions by more than five per cent by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, another bioenergy plant has also been opened at Diageo's St Croix rum distillery in the US Virgin Islands, and further projects are in the pipeline.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Top Diversity Recruiting Strategies of Top Diversity Companies and Organizations

Diversity recruiting is a top priority of companies and organizations that are Equal Opportunity Employers, and dedicated to Diversity and Inclusion. Each has their own diversity recruiting methods, and the following are top diversity recruitng strategies that top diversity companies and organizations practise:

  • Getting referrals from employees of diverse communities. A benchmarked recommendation from trusted sources is the best predictor of job performance.
  • Reaching out to different segments for talents through social media, but making sure that it goes beyond the level of meeting “quotas.” This is to ensure that an organization's Affirmative Action is sincere and truly aligned to its commitment to diversity.
  • Targeted advertising. Diversity companies and organizations advertise directly to diverse groups such as blacks, women, disabled, Asians, veterans, and other minority groups by posting flyers in malls or where common foot traffic can easily see these ads.
  • Expanding outreach efforts to minorities in schools such as in African-American communities begining at the elementary school level to encourage more students to pursue careers that their respective companies and organizations offer.
  • Offering apprenticeship/or internship programs in their respective companies for diverse segments.
  • Candidate assessment techniques like behavioral interviewing and targeted selection also help interviewers keep a focus on job-based criteria rather than impressions.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Office Depot Comes out with New 3-D Printers Online

Office Depot, a supplier of office products, computers, computer software and office furniture in the US, recently announced this week that it has started offering customers the opportunity to purchase 3D printers from their website. The chain announced that it's added 3D Systems' Cube and CubeX to its online store, selling the printers for $1,299 and $2,499, respectively.

The cheaper Cube 3D printer has 16 different colour options, including two that glow in the dark, and prints objects up to 5.5″ x 5.5″ x 5.5″ in size and is available to purchase starting from $1,299.

The CubeX 3D printer has 18 different colour options that include two that glow in the dark plastics, and is capable of printing objects up to a size of 10.8″ x 10.45″ x 9.5″ and is available to purchase starting at $2,499.

These two state-of-the-art 3D printers and printing supplies are the first in a line-up of groundbreaking 3D printing technology products and are currently available on www.officedepot.com and www.business.officedepot.com, the company's press release partly reads.

Whether for small businesses, product designers or students, Cube 3D printers are an affordable 3D printing solution that puts customers just a click away from their imagination. These printerCube 3D printers are ready to use right out of the box. Featuring Wi-Fi for a simple connection to other devices, they are compatible with Mac or Windows and come with 25 free 3D templates designed by professional artists, with additional templates available online. With ultra-portable designs, Cube 3D printers fit into the home, office or classroom.s offer a new way to express personality by creating fully formed objects through advances in printing software and technology.

Cube 3D printers are ready to use right out of the box. Featuring Wi-Fi for a simple connection to other devices, they are compatible with Mac or Windows and come with 25 free 3D templates designed by professional artists, with additional templates available online. With ultra-portable designs, Cube 3D printers fit into the home, office or classroom.


Cabela's New Metro Denver Stores' Grand Opening To Fuel Competition

Cabela's is set for its grand opening this Thursday of its new Colorado stores located at Lone Tree and Thornton respectively. Cabela's now joins its closest competitor, Bass Pro Shops, along with smaller-format Gander Mountain and Sportsman's Warehouse in battling for their share of spending from hunters and anglers.

The two new Cabela's soon will be joined by another two Bass Pro Shops, in Colorado Springs and Loveland. Adding to the competitive mix are Walmart, sporting-goods generalists Dick's and Sports Authority, and hundreds of small independents.

Marking the first time Cabela’s will open two stores in the same metro area on the same day, the (Lone Tree) 110,000 and (Thornton) 90,000-square-foot stores feature gun libraries with rare collectible firearms, specialty delis serving the likes of elk and wild boar sandwiches, indoor archery ranges, walls lined with taxidermy displays and aquariums housing an array of native fish species – aside from thousands of quality outdoor products.

To mark its celebration of these two stores, one of America’s most popular hunting couples and Outdoor Channel television hosts Lee and Tiffany Lakosky are slated to make a special guest appearance at both of the openings. The Lakosky couple will be on hand to meet-and-greet outdoor enthusiasts, provide expert advice from some of their most memorable hunts; share information on what products they enjoy most; and hand out fun Outdoor Channel gear.

Hordes are expected at the two openings. Traffic jams, beefed-up police presence and the obligatory overnight campers seeking to be first through the doors are to be expected. Their zeal will be fueled by gift-card and product giveaways, and a shot at winning a Chevy pickup replete with Coleman utility vehicle and trailer.

CEO Millner said he is well aware of the competitive challenge produced by opening two stores along the Front Range where Gander Mountain already has two, Sportsman's Warehouse operates three, and Bass Pro Shops' lone Denver store will soon by joined by new outlets in Colorado Springs and Loveland.

With the Lone Tree store at 110,000 square feet and Thornton at 90,000, both fit in the company's relatively new "next generation" format, key to what Millner maintains will be the stores' success.


The Secret To AutoZone's Success

In a recent study of analyst recommendations at the major brokerages, AutoZone, Inc. (NYSE: AZO) is shown to be ranked the #76 broker analyst pick among those stocks screened by The Online Investor for strong stock buyback activity. To make that list, a stock must have repurchased at least 5% of its outstanding shares over the trailing twelve month period. In forming the rank, the analyst opinions from the major brokerage houses were tallied, and averaged; then, the list of stocks with strong buyback activity was ranked according to those averages.

Thus, AutoZone, Inc. is a company with strong buyback activity that is also considered a compelling buy by analysts; a bullish investor could take this to mean that sharp analyst minds came to the same bullish conclusion as the company itself that the stock is a good value, and therefore the stock should do well in the future.

Through the story of Pitt Hyde himself, we can glean AutoZone's disciplined path to success. Pitt Hyde's grandfather started Malone & Hyde, a wholesale food distributor, in 1907. “He ran it, my father ran it, and I ran it.”

From the time Pitt Hyde was 4 or 5, “my grandfather would take me to visit the stores, and my father always discussed the big decisions being made with me.” It seemed that his future was cut out for him: “ I was always told that I had the opportunity to run Malone & Hyde, and the obligation to do it better than my grandfather and father did. I never knew I had a choice.”

His first job, “when I was 14 or 15 years old, was bagging groceries and carrying them out to cars at one of our stores. After I graduated from the University of North Carolina with an economics degree, my father grew ill. So in 1968, at 26, I had to take over. That year, we had $240 million in sales. Fortunately, I was able to continue to grow the company.”

Then in the mid-1970's, he looked for areas to diversify into. “We had a successful drug chain called Super D and felt comfortable with specialty retailing. So when this small company, Checker Auto Parts in Phoenix, came up for sale, I checked it out. I saw how it was growing with auto parts geared to the do-it-yourself market. We passed,” and another company bought it. Still, he continued to study the situation: “I could see the auto parts business was growing rapidly and wasn't as price-sensitive as food. I didn't see anyone doing a superior job of customer service, and most were not well kept, so we decided to start a company from scratch.”

They opened “our first store in Forrest City, Ark., on July 4, 1979, and called it Auto Shack” However, there was a complaint filed by Radio Shack for trademark infringement. In short, instead of fighting it, “we changed the name to AutoZone.”

Then in 1988, “we sold Malone & Hyde, which by then had $3.3 billion in sales. We had set up AutoZone in its own corporate structure, so when we sold the base business, I kept AutoZone.”

Pitt Hyde was not really into “do-it-yourself” and did not know about the auto parts business, “but I knew there was an opportunity. We worked on small margins and were very tight operators, so that discipline helped us through as we learned the business.”

Starting with four stores, and with an electronic catalogue to boot, AutoZone was well on its way to success as it worked within its objective of building “a culture around superior customer service, and to have everyday low prices in good-looking stores. In 1991 we went public, and the competition saw how well we were doing. They started copying our store layout and pricing. But none of them could copy our culture. Today we have 5,000 stores.”

According to the ETF Finder at ETF Channel, AZO makes up 2.76% of the Retail ETF (RTH) which is trading higher by about 0.4% on the day Friday.

Pitt Hyde's parting words sum it all: “Money is a small part of the equation for success. Sweat equity is what makes things work.”


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

AutoDesk Introduces New Cloud-Based Technology for Infrastructure

AutoDesk,Inc., a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, has just recently unveiled its breakthrough cloud-based technology for infrastructure, the AutoDesk InfraWorks 360 Pro, which is designed to change the way infrastructure projects are planned, designed, built and maintained using the cloud, mobile and desktop.

This cloud-based platform aims to provide new visualization, simulation, and three-dimensional modeling technologies to customers in the infrastructure industry. AutoDesk InfraWorks 360 Pro gives users the option to create presentation material in the form of still images, slideshows, or animations.
AutoDesk InfraWorks 360 Pro enables users to see designs as they would appear in the real world and to perform lighting studies using realistic, dynamic sun and shadow models.

In addition to giving stakeholders a realistic view of a project, visualizing designs within InfraWorks 360 Pro also allows for the evaluation of more options in the same amount of time, according to Richard Humphrey, the senior director of infrastructure product strategy at AutoDesk.

The ability to rapidly produce proposals by creating and aggregating project information, which can then be viewed within the InfraWorks environment as it might appear in the real world, helps make AutoDesk InfraWorks 360 Pro a powerful tool for winning new business and accelerating the project approval process.

Starting this month, customers can purchase InfraWorks 360 Pro for a three-month trial, or for short-term projects. The purchase on a quarterly basis includes 150 cloud credits (units of measurement to perform tasks such as rendering or a simulation in Autodesk 360). To accommodate long or short project needs, users have the flexibility to renew at the end of the quarter.


What You Know; Who You Don't Know: Does It Matter?

Affirmative Action is a very important term in the corporate, industry and business sectors in today's increasingly global market. In essence, Affirmative Action is giving equal employment opportunity – to test, hire, promote, or retain - any qualified individual, employee or applicant, without bias to color, religion, sex, or national origin, which “federal contractors and subcontractors are legally required to adopt,” so as to “create as level a playing field as possible - but level, not tilted.”

On the other hand, there is also a subtle mechanism that is said to be at play, and is said to be neither illegal nor illegitimate: social networking in order to find a job, as in the case of job-seekers; or looking for the right candidate to hire, as in the case of prospective employers. Others term this as “favoritism.”

This practice of networking has thus given rise to the common belief that it is “not what you know, it's who you know” that matters. Several pros and cons of this practice have been pointed out, from both sides: the jobseeker and the prospective employer.

Some jobseekers/observers see this practice of networking as somehow negative:
  • I remember being startled that we were promoting a method that was clearly subjective and would tilt towards hiring based on secondary considerations...it implied to me pressure to conform.”
  • Whites believe they should have priority over other groups to economic security, political power and basic goods and services, anything that threatens that priority is considered an unfair racial preference. In tough economic times protectionism becomes the order of the day - and social networking helps to facilitate that process.
  • If an employee has a referral, regardless of whether s/he is the best candidate for the position, the referral usually gets the job. I've always found this an unfair practice.”

From the employer's/observer's point of view, there seems to be more rationilizing about it:
  • When a valued and trusted employee comes to you with the name of a colleague, perhaps someone they've worked with in the past, and vouches for them, it rightfully carries some weight.”
  • Resumes today are a mix of boiler plate and total fantasy. The private grapevine is imperfect, but based on decades of small business experience across several industries, it is wrong less often than resumes.”

While there are others that seem to evaluate the practice more objectively:
  • Unless they really think about it, probably most white people are unaware of how unconscious barriers affect other racial groups. Most wealthy people are unaware of barriers and hardships affecting the lower economic classes.”
  • The point is simply that social networks often end up amplifying inequality that already exists. It's only natural to draw on your own circle of contacts, and everyone does it. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but it does have the inadvertent consequence of reinforcing and perpetuating the inequalities that exist between different groups in society.”
  • The majority of successful employed blacks hesitate to reach out and pull in other blacks fearing being scorned? attacked?...in some way being taken less seriously in the workplace for their actions. They do not network to the advantage of other blacks.”
  • Networking is not illegal but can negatively affect Black employment rates because many White people do not have Black people in their social networks and White employers frequently use their networks to fill positions.”

Yet, there seems to be also some silver lining behind the cloud of resentment or frustration that calls for challenging this practice, or the way of looking at it, to render it more beneficial for both job seeker and employer.
  • Moving to consensus on more equitable redistribution of jobs and wealth will require confronting the myth of meritocracy and the role of privilege in sustaining status.”
  • Instead of the usual progressive whine of 'unfair' how about some concrete proposal to fix the situation?”

More positive concrete actions are suggested, in support of networking:
  • One of the ways affirmative action can make an impact is by allowing blacks and other less privileged groups to enter networks that they would otherwise be excluded from. This has the potential of a very positive cascading effect for the individuals affected, allowing them to enter new networks that could drastically impact their career prospects for the rest of their lives.”
  • Sure there's favoritism against Blacks, but Blacks can emulate what Asian-Americans have done successfully -open and run millions of successful small businesses. Asian-Americans have massive sources to finance their start-ups; successful Black businesses need to create non-traditional funding sources and incubation for aspiring Black entrepreneurs.”
  • There are good opportunities out there for African-Americans, but they need to branch out and expand their networks to find them.”

Most interestingly, these perhaps are times that call for more boldness or creativity on the part of jobseekers, whether minority or Whites, if they do indeed have the talent and skills. As one said, “If you're waiting to be hired, you're missing the boat. Hire yourself. "Getting a job" isn't the right answer any more.”

Thus, “what you know” will rightfully regain credibility and respect and become one's premium selling point: “Increasingly, your job is what you create yourself.” In this way, “who you don't know” does not truly matter anymore, for while it is true that “social networking is an important part of it, but it is not all of it. If you can't do the job, you won't last in this economy.”

On the other hand, employers need to be on the lookout for more real talents out there in the marketplace, and go beyond asking their usual network of people “they know.” “Who you don't know” should become a priority for corporate recruiters, as they branch out more - trying to go as far out of their way - in search of people who can do “what they can do.”

Organizations who are indeed dedicated to diversity should by all means exhaust all means and efforts to reach out to the minority population. “In the network's strong DESIRE to include minorities, do they advertise to them directly?