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CEO Daily Brief – Oct. 14, 2010

Women Employees Sue Citigroup for Gender Discrimination Six current and former female employees have sued Citigroup Inc., claiming the company operates at an outdated "boys club" and turns a blind eye to discrimination against women. The lawsuit was filed in by five women who formerly worked in the company’s Public Finance Department and a current …

Women Employees Sue Citigroup for Gender Discrimination

Six current and former female employees have sued Citigroup Inc., claiming the company operates at an outdated "boys club" and turns a blind eye to discrimination against women.

The lawsuit was filed in by five women who formerly worked in the company’s Public Finance Department and a current employee in the company’s Asset Finance Group.

The complaint, which is seeking class-action status, alleges company-wide layoffs in November 2008 had a "disparate impact" on the company’s female employees, with thousands of well-qualified women being let go, while less qualified men were retained.

The lawsuit also alleges the woman working in the Asset Finance Group was subjected to "inappropriate and offensive comments" and demoted to a "less prestigious and less lucrative" position after she returned from maternity leave in January.

Citigroup responded that many of their allegations are either totally inaccurate or selectively incomplete. The facts do not support their claims of gender discrimination.

To read more about the employees’ concerns and the company’s response in The Wall Street Journal, please click here.

United States Slips in Competitiveness

The United States slipped from second to fourth in a country-by-country ranking of global competitiveness, according to a study by the World Economic Forum (WEF). This is the second year in a row that the U.S. ranking has slipped, with the U.S. losing the No. 1 slot in last year’s report. The lowest rank the U.S. was given for any of the 12 pillars was 87th out of 139, for macroeconomic environment.

There were some individual factors for which the United States received especially low scores, in the bottom 25 percent. These included the business costs of terrorism, the government’s budget balance, the national savings rate, accumulated government debt and the soundness of its banks.

On the good side, the United States ranked first in the world for two of the pillars of competitiveness, innovation and market size. The United States also garnered top-ten rankings in higher education and training, labor market efficiency and business sophistication.

Please click here to read more about the U.S. report card in the Huffington Post.

The Wal-Mart Disease Hurts Shareholders

Business management is being attacked again. Blogger Adam Hartung says that many of America’s leading companies have done little, or nothing, for shareholders. They suffer from something he calls the "The Wal-Mart Disease."

These companies are becoming so obsessive about execution, so focused on doing more of the same, that they forget the prime objective is to grow the investment. Not just execute. Not just expand with more of the same by constantly trying to enter new markets – such as Europe or China or Brazil. The No. 1 job of company leaders is to improve the rate of return.

The Disease keeps management so focused on trying to work harder, to somehow squeezing more out of the old success formula, to finding new places to implement the old success formula, that they ignore environmental changes which make it impossible, despite size, for the company to ever again grow both revenues and rates of return.

Read more about the prescription to cure the disease in Forbes.

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