Oracle in Court Over Allegedly Underpaying Women and Minorities by $400 Million | In a rare public display of the alleged bias against female and minority tech workers, the Department of Labor made its case in a hearing Thursday tha

Oracle in Court Over Allegedly Underpaying Women and Minorities by $400 Million

Oracle in Court Over Allegedly Underpaying Women and Minorities by $400 Million

Oracle in Court Over Allegedly Underpaying Women and Minorities by $400 Million

Oracle in Court Over Allegedly Underpaying Women and Minorities by $400 Million

Oracle in Court Over Allegedly Underpaying Women and Minorities by $400 Million

Oracle in Court Over Allegedly Underpaying Women and Minorities by $400 Million
Oracle in Court Over Allegedly Underpaying Women and Minorities by $400 Million
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In a rare public display of the alleged bias against female and minority tech workers, the Department of Labor made its case in a hearing Thursday that Oracle underpaid women, Asians and black employees working in certain roles at its Silicon Valley headquarters by $401 million (roughly Rs. 2,862 crores) over the course of four years, one of the largest federal anti-discrimination cases to go before a judge.

Over the course of the multi-day hearing, the Labor Department is set to call 21 current and former Oracle employees as witnesses to bring to life the statistical claims that Oracle violated equal opportunity statutes governing federal contractors. The agency alleges Oracle, the database management company founded by billionaire Larry Ellison, paid some women as much as 20 percent less than their male peers, or $37,000 (roughly Rs. 26.4 lakhs), in 2016. The lawsuit was filed by the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which audits companies with government contracts worth more than $100 million (roughly Rs. 713 crores) a year.

"The only thing worse than economic discrimination is economic discrimination subsidized by tax dollars," Janet Herold from the OCCP said during her opening statement.

During Oracle's opening statement, the company's counsel argued that Oracle does not discriminate and pointed out that the company is run by a woman, chief executive Safra Katz, who was sitting in the court room.

The hearing in San Francisco has broad significance for the tech industry because the allegations against Oracle are similar to the department's claims that other tech giants, including Google and Palantir, exercised systemic bias against minority and female employees in hiring, pay or promotion.

The first witness, former employee Kirsten Hanson Garcia, who worked for Oracle for more than 16 years, mostly recently in human resources as senior director of talent development, testified that during a meeting in the mid-2000s with top executives, the head of human resources said, "Well, if you hire a woman, she will work harder for less money."

Palantir, a data-mining company, settled the claims in 2017, while the department's investigation into Google has been mired in a dispute over access to compensation data. That makes the Oracle hearing a rare airing of testimony from the employees who faced alleged discrimination, as well as compensation data at a major tech company. Oracle and Google are also facing private pay, promotion, or hiring discrimination lawsuits filed by current and former employees.

In late November, Oracle filed a lawsuit alleging that the Labor Department's enforcement action was unlawful.

Google didn't respond to a request for comment. Palantir declined to comment.

Some tech companies initially tried to hide annual reports about workforce diversity, arguing that the demographic data was a trade secret. (Oracle and Palantir said the data was a trade secret as recently as 2017.) However, in the past five years, as scrutiny has intensified, more companies have acknowledged their struggles to have a diverse workforce. Some publish annual reports on the race and gender diversity of their workforce, which have shown limited improvement. But they are more reluctant to admit a pay gap.

Oracle's lawyer argued that the Department of Labor's expert witness compared employees based on broad job titles, and failed to take into account that a software developer who worked on Oracle's product PeopleSoft is valued differently in the market than developers who work on artificial intelligence of machine learning. Among the 6,000 or so class members, salaries varied from $45,000 (roughly Rs. 32 lakhs) a year to $17 million (roughly Rs. 121.3 crores).

In the Oracle lawsuit, initially filed in January 2017, the Labor Department also claims that Oracle preferred hiring Asians with student visas because they were dependent on Oracle's sponsorship to stay in the United States and could therefore be systematically underpaid. The department claims that Oracle's college recruiting program hired 500 graduates between 2013 and 2016 for product development roles at its Redwood Shores, California, headquarters, 90 percent of whom were Asian. During the same period, Oracle only hired six black people through the recruitment program.

The agency argues that pay disparities stem from Oracle's practice of steering women, Asian people and black people into lower-paying jobs and relying on prior salaries in order to set their pay at Oracle. The judge will rule on claims regarding both disparate impact and disparate treatment regarding women and minorities at Oracle. In a recent filing, the judge said that the government will need to show that Oracle's actions were intentional in order to prove its claims about disparate treatment, but it does not need to show bad faith.

Another witness on the stand Thursday, current employee Kirsten Klagenberg, vice president of customer programs and a 23-year veteran at the company, testified about an instance in which Klagenberg's superior allocated her 2,000 fewer shares than what was expected, while the same superior said he found an extra 1,000 shares to give to a white male employee who had a serious performance review issue that year.

Both witnesses testified that Oracle did not offer them training in applying affirmative action to compensation for individuals based on race or gender. Federal contractors are required to implement an affirmative action plan.

The case will be decided by an administrative law judge, not a jury, and is limited to the 2013 to 2016 time period only at Oracle's headquarters. However, if the agency wins, it plans to ask for back pay for discriminatory conduct from 2013 to the present day, along with immediate changes to Oracle's policies, as well as the cancellation of all of Oracle's government contracts and to bar Oracle from future contracts until it complies, according to court documents.

© The Washington Post 2019

Flipkart Leads $60 Million Investment in Logistics Platform Shadowfax

Flipkart Leads $60 Million Investment in Logistics Platform Shadowfax

Walmart's Flipkart has led a $60 million (roughly Rs. 428 crores) financing round in logistics platform Shadowfax as the online retailer looks to expand hyperlocal delivery capabilities.

This investment is part of a Series D funding that Shadowfax has received from Eight Roads Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, Mirae Asset Naver Fund and World Bank-backed IFC.

Flipkart has an existing partnership with Shadowfax to fulfil logistics requirements across various categories in its e-commerce business.

"At Flipkart, we are focused on redefining customer experience, and hyperlocal is a key element to enable this transformation," Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Chief Executive Officer, Flipkart, said in a statement on Thursday.

"We have seen strong synergies with Shadowfax through our existing engagement with them, and their investments in tech-enabled innovations will help us significantly reduce delivery time and provide superior customer experiences across product categories," Krishnamurthy added.

Founded in 2015, Shadowfax currently enables delivery of 10 million monthly shipments across diverse segments ranging from hot food to grocery to fashion, electronics and other e-commerce items.

The company will use the funds to enhance the tech capabilities of the platform, recruit talent, increase the number of shipments to 100 million a month and expand its geographical presence to 1,000 Indian cities, Flipkart said.

"With the new round of capital infusion, Shadowfax plans to invest extensively in building long-term capabilities which are essential to developing an efficient and superior service quality ecosystem in Indian logistics," said Abhishek Bansal, CEO, Shadowfax.

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 could launch in India by January 2020

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 could launch in India by January 2020

Xiaomi's 108MP Penta-camera Mi Note 10 could launch in India by January 2020 with a price of around Rs 40,000. The company has previously teased the launch of a 108MP camera phone in India, and we suspect it to be the Mi Note 10 series, which debuted in China as the Mi CC9 Pro.

Now, Xiaomi recently announced it's Global Photography Challenge 2019 on the Mi India community, and under its Juror's Choice Awards prizes, the company is offering ten Mi Note 10 to winners. Interestingly, the Mi Note 10 is cited as worth Rs 46,832 in the announcement post, which was first spotted by the folks over at 91Mobiles.

The report states that the price of the Mi Note 10, as mentioned in the details of the challenge, is a directly converted price from US dollars. The phone is priced starting at AU$888 in Australia and CNY 2,799 in China, where it retails as the Mi CC9 Pro. We expect Xiaomi to price the Mi Note 10 upwards of the Rs 40,000 mark when it launches it in India.

The winners of the Global Photography Challenge 2019 will be announced on February 5, 2020, and we expect the company to announce the Mi Note 10 around the same time. 

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 will pose to be a direct competitor to the Realme XT 730G which is slated to launch sometime before the end of 2019 with a rumored price of Rs 17,000 for the base variant.

Mi Note 10 specifications

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 series features a glass-metal sandwich design featuring a 6.4-inch Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) display, which uses an AMOLED panel. The screen has a u-shaped notch cut-out, resulting in a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and also houses the 32MP selfie camera. The display supports DCI-P3 color gamut and can playback HDR10 videos. It is protected with a layer of Gorilla Glass 5, and the fingerprint sensor is embedded within the display.

A Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor powers the Mi Note 10 with an octa-core CPU and Adreno 618 GPU paired with up to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. It runs on MIUI 11 out-of-the-box.

The highlighting feature of the Mi Note 10 is its primary 108MP camera, which uses Samsung's ISOCELL Bright HMX sensor with an f/1.7 aperture backed by PDAF, Laser autofocus, and OIS. The second camera is a 12MP telephoto lens with up to 2x optical zoom followed by a 5MP custom telephoto sensor with 5x optical zoom, a 20MP ultra-wide angle lens with 117-degree field-of-view and a 2MP macro lens.

The phone has a 5,260mAh battery that supports 30W fast charging and USB Power Delivery. Xiaomi claims that the phone can go from 0-58% in 30 minutes and up to 100% in 65 minutes tops.

Survival of the fastest: balancing the business complexity seesaw

Survival of the fastest: balancing the business complexity seesaw

At a time of constant innovation and evolving customer expectations, business agility has never been more important. The enterprises most adaptable to change stand the best chance of thriving. By contrast, those caged by complex and disjointed back office systems are running out of time.

In particular, established companies that have been on the market for more than a decade face real challenges – from silos to legacy systems – that put the brakes on their ability to innovate and remain relevant to customers. A recent study by Oracle and The Confederation of British Industry highlights just how unrelenting undergoing this change can be, with half of the largest FTSE100 companies disappearing from the index since 2009. In short, large enterprises are in serious danger of being left behind.

Companies who can’t move at the speed of their customers and handle relentless change won’t be able to compete in today’s digital marketplace. While they won’t disappear overnight, the outcome will eventually be falling revenue, an intense scrambling to identify deep-seated problems, increasing levels of irrelevance and the inevitable death spiral.

By contrast, the opportunities are vast for companies with the courage to remake themselves around today’s realities and harness the pace of change as a competitive weapon.

The age of confusion

It’s no coincidence that some of the least connected companies suffer the most from complexity. To react to changing customer needs, companies need insight from a multitude of data sources and the ability to act on it quickly.

Evolving is only achievable through a state of hyper-connectivity, where company, customer and supplier data are all easily accessible across the organisation. If the Chief Financial Officer needs insight into employee productivity, they should be able to access the data from HR in seconds. Similarly, a Chief Human Resources Officer looking for information on a new hire’s financial impact should easily be able to draw the data from finance.  

While aspiring to hyper-connectivity is easy, achieving it is the real challenge. The main hurdle for business leaders is the oft-neglected back office. It’s here where some of the most crucial functions, including payroll, HR and supply chain operate. It’s the engine room of the organisation, so when it isn’t running efficiently the entire company stalls. 

To keep pace with change, organisations need to leverage enterprise resource planning to effectively manage, optimise and leverage data across the day-to-day but crucial business functions.  

Automate, integrate, iterate

For business leaders to align, the underlying back office must be integrated and connected. Migrating your various functions to the cloud avoids system fragmentation. Doing so also means you have all the data in one place and a flexible, scalable and secure environment in which to roll out changes. This leads to improved performance, agility and visibility. 

Even then, however, organisational functions like HR and finance still drain time and resources. Simple, repetitive tasks like payment processing will continue to draw your staff away from higher-value tasks. And you won’t change outlooks overnight. Your ability to adapt and change your organisation is still compromised by cultural resistance and long-standing processes.

To overcome this resistance, businesses should look to simplify, standardise and automate with applications embedded with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). A ML application, for example, can easily auto-approve expenses, flagging those that require further investigation.

A connected, cloud based back office is a strong foundation on which to build these shared processes that run by themselves, more efficiently, and which filter throughout the enterprise.

It’s also crucial that employees, partners and stakeholders drive change. Led from the top and executed from the ground up, there must be an expectation in place that failing isn’t a bad thing. Small companies may have agility, but might not have the established processes in place, while large organisations can have the opposite problem. In order to build the right change culture for your organisation, it’s important to be open to all answers and different models.

United we stand

The impact of connecting data and automating processes across lines of business is transformative. Armed with the correct tools, business leaders can unlock unprecedented insight into operations, leading to increased collaboration, performance and the ability to anticipate change.

This couldn’t come at a better time. Our research found that almost three-quarters of HR and Finance executives struggle to focus on future strategic direction due to a lack of collaboration and too much short-term thinking. With a shared, single source of accurate data, however, business leaders will no longer have to make decisions in the dark.

They’ll also be able to exploit more sophisticated tools. With predictive modelling, for example, organisations can forecast budget and headcount needs, responding early to avoid future crises. AI solutions can also extract insight from vast quantities of third-party data otherwise unavailable to the business. Overall, better, more evidence-based decisions can be made that help grow the business. 

Many organisations are already realising these benefits. Amplifon, the world’s largest hearing aid manufacturer, has been able to improve its customer experience and working practices all while growing its network and customer base. Its cloud-based platform has been the catalyst, spreading common governance models, metrics and KPIs across countries.

Global fashion conglomerate Apparel Group has also innovated through a mix of intelligent cloud applications. By centralising its data in a single source of truth, the brand has gained visibility across its global operations, giving them insight into opportunities with new brands and markets.

Connectivity and complexity are like two ends of a see-saw. When one side goes up the other comes down; the less connected you are, the more difficult it will be to run the business.

With a connected, automated mindset, a strategy can be developed at the top and rapidly implemented all the way down. This agility is what allows businesses to outpace change and evolve faster than the competition.

After all, you don’t lead the market by following it.

Debbie Green, Vice President of Applications, Oracle UK


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