Airbnbing when black

Does Airbnb have a race problem? That’s the question the New York Times poses as a growing number of African-American users of the accommodation service claim they’ve been discriminated against. The NYT cites a number of anecdotal cases of alleged racism and also highlights “a January study from Harvard Business School [that] found that Airbnb users with distinctly African-American names were roughly 16 percent less likely to be accepted as guests than those with distinctly white names.” Airbnb says it is looking at ways to tackle discrimination.

Tesla offers to buy Solar City

Electric vehicle pioneer Tesla has offered to acquire SolarCity, the energy company it already has a major stake in, in an all-stock deal valuing it at $2.8 billion. Calling the move a “no-brainer” Tesla CEO Elon Musk justified the merger “because Tesla is ramping up production of batteries used in conjunction with solar panels, SolarCity’s main business,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Tesla and SolarCity’s connections run deep. As well as being a major investor Elon Musk is the cousin of SolarCity founder Lyndon Rive. Both men have recused themselves from voting on the deal.

M&S crowdfunds solar

In a smaller solar venture, Marks & Spencer is crowdfunding the installation of solar panels on some of its stores in the UK, the Guardian reports. The retailer wants to raise £1.23m to place solar panels on nine of its large stores and is partnering with Energy4All, a not-for-profit group that helps community groups set up energy co-ops. The crowdfunding venture is “part of M&S’s plan to source 50% of electricity used in its UK buildings from small-scale renewables by 2020,” the Guardian reports.

Boll and Branch inspires sustainability through sourcing

Here’s a modern day tale of sustainable consumer demand that should have all companies taking note. Five years ago Missy Tannen was shopping for new sheets. She had questions. “Where were the sheets made? Were the cotton farmers well compensated? Were the factory workers well treated?” When we couldn’t get good answers from retailers and manufacturers Missy and her partner Scott decided they could do better. The result, as The New York Times reports, is Boll & Branch, a three-year-old linen business that aims to improve the livelihoods of farmers and factory workers in India through a sustainable supply chain. This year it is on track to sell $40 million worth of sheets and towels.

How not to motivate your workforce

Finally today, there are ways to inspire employees and then there is this story from China where a motivational trainer for a regional bank “beat eight rural bank employees with a stick, shaved the heads of the men and cut the hair of the women after they performed poorly on a training weekend,” the Guardian reports. 

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