Tuesday 23 January 2018

TH€ PUNT: Bruton: do as I say, not as I do

A FUNNY thing happened on the way to the forum.

We have heard lots about EU targets for gender equality in business and quotas for women on the boards of state companies, but it looks like the Government is all talk and no action.

That is if its latest advisory panel is anything to go by. The newly launched Entrepreneurship Forum, announced on Thursday by Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton, boasts seven members – but just one of them is female.

Her name is Noelle O'Connor (pictured), the founder of TanOrganic, which makes and sells its own natural self-tanning products.

Her company is backed by 'Dragon's Den' investor Gavin Duffy and says it is the most successful business from the TV series so far, notching up €1m in sales in its first three months of trading. She is an inspiring entrepreneur.

At the launch of the forum, Mr Bruton highlighted the start-up fund for women entrepreneurs that was set up by the Government last year.

But the sum total of that fund was just €500,000, which is tiny in comparison to other national start-up schemes. It was also heavily oversubscribed. Ms O'Connor is one of thousands of Irish female entrepreneurs. In fact, The Punt can think of 20 off the top of her head.

And the Department of Jobs had total discretion to select the members of its Entrepreneurship Forum, from a very large pool – about 2,000 people set up a company in Ireland every month.

The Punt thinks the forum can do rather better than selecting an important group in which just one in seven is a woman.


Workers try 'lock-in' protest

WE'VE all had our frustrations with bosses and, let's be honest, we've probably all secretly dreamt about what we'd like to do to them when they particularly annoy us.

But we come to our senses and, for the sake of our careers, we remain as charming and calm as ever.

Workers in one factory in China though just couldn't take any more.

US businessman Chip Starnes was winging his way back to America yesterday, no doubt a little shaken up, after he was held captive by the workers in his factory for almost a week in a pay dispute.

It was claimed that he was barricaded in after disgruntled staff, fearing they were about to be laid off, demanded severance pay.

Workers claimed the dispute was actually over pay arrears.

Whatever the reasons, it hasn't been a pleasant week for the man at the top.

Mr Starnes claimed that workers blocked exits and whenever he tried to sleep, they banged on doors and windows. He claimed the experience was humiliating and embarrassing.

What a reasonable, proactive bunch. Let's just hope it doesn't catch on.

(Incidentally, The Punt would like to point out that we love our bosses here at the Irish Independent).


BlackBerry needs smart move

THE Punt is always impartial when it comes to dealing with companies, but inevitably there are brands and businesses that we have a soft spot for. BlackBerry is one such brand.

We remember fondly the first time we used one, and thinking what a leap it was from the suddenly boring and limited "feature phones" we had used up to then.

Being able to get email on the move, or surfing the web in a meaningful way, was such a pleasure that we very quickly became addicted to the "Crackberry".

Unfortunately it hasn't lasted. The company has been on life support for years now, and it received another blow with its first-quarter numbers missing forecasts.

The new BlackBerry 10 operating system is superb, and the smartphone market desperately needs a third force to take on Apple iOS and Google's Android.

So far though, BlackBerry 10's sales haven't been anything like what was hoped.

BlackBerry's fall makes Irishman Rob Orr's decision to quit as the firm's head of UK and Ireland after less than a year and move to Samsung look like an understandable move.

The Punt really wants the company that pioneered the smartphone to fight back, but the Canadian firm is running out of time, money, and options. The end may come sooner rather than later.

Irish Independent

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