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  Opinion   Columnists  17 Sep 2023  Kishwar Desai | Top bizmen felled by hubris & lust...

Kishwar Desai | Top bizmen felled by hubris & lust...

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Sep 18, 2023, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Sep 18, 2023, 12:00 am IST

Will Gulf sheikh take over ManU?

Bernard Looney, the chief executive at BP (British Petroleum) is the latest to resign over an investigation launched into alleged relationships he may have had with colleagues.(Representational Image: DC)
 Bernard Looney, the chief executive at BP (British Petroleum) is the latest to resign over an investigation launched into alleged relationships he may have had with colleagues.(Representational Image: DC)

It may still be summer but things are not as sunny as we would like.

What has surprised many in recent months is that some corporate bosses in the UK are not behaving with the propriety they should be. Harassment at the workplace has been in focus with three high profile cases coming to light regarding behaviour of corporate bosses towards their colleagues — and yes, some of these allegations do appear to be sexual in nature.

How can this happen one may ask — especially these days when so much has been written and said about the “me too” movement? If good behaviour is not possible — then surely certain exposure on social media should be a deterrent? And what about the rules at the work place?

Bernard Looney, the chief executive at BP (British Petroleum) is the latest to resign over an investigation launched into alleged relationships he may have had with colleagues. This follows closely after Tony Danker, the head of CBI (possibly the largest business lobbying group in the UK) being fired over his behaviour at work, and then Crispin Odey, a Tory donor and hedge fund founder facing allegations from 13 women. He has been forced to quit from his own hedge fund.

All of this seems to belong more to the last century than this one. Today even little kids know there will be consequences if anyone (male or female) oversteps the line at the work place. But people at the top may imagine that they are immune. It is a sad moment indeed to think that some British institutions still do require basic freedom from bullying and harassment.

Meanwhile, yes, it does seems the rate of inflation has come down but just a smidgen.

At least, the Bank of England is not increasing interest rates. Enough damage has been done to house prices (falling) and mortgage rates (rising). But that has been the story much of this year.

So as expected mental health issues are coming to light more and more and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) has many in its grip with over 6,35,000 young people, men and women, being in psychiatric care of some kind.

While money is tight — the job market has also been tight for some time. Students are particularly impacted as there have also been strikes by college lecturers who have refused to grade exams. This has further delayed results, and so there is more uncertainty.

Things are particularly tough right now for the young — and one can only hope that Christmas round the corner will bring its usual cheer.

Well, it’s good to know that the “youth icon”, Prince William, the Prince of Wales is off to the US. He is publicising his environmental prize, Earthshot. He raises money from eager and helpful donors (who no doubt enjoy the royal connection), but he has been dedicated to this task. After all, his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, was and his father King Charles continues to be also active in promoting charitable causes.

William is popular across the pond. But the question journalists are asking is whether he will encounter his brother Harry, who is disaffected with the family. Of course, Kate, the Princess of Wales, is even more disaffected with Meghan. Hence what people are looking forward to is not publicity for a good cause, i.e., the environment, but another fight in the family. If it does not happen, no doubt some cold vibes between the erstwhile “Fab Four” will be conjured up by our inventive media. It will provide a diversion from all the problems we are facing. We shall wait with interest!

Cricket may be the religion in India but it is no longer here. It is football or soccer (to distinguish it from rugby), which is the mania. Back in the Sixties, professional clubs were locally owned and players were modestly paid. Fans were fanatical about their teams. Now football is a massive business. Clubs are rich, players come from around the world and get paid thousands of pounds per week. Fans are, of course, there but, with social media, they constantly review their team’s success and shout when they fail.

One of the great football clubs of all time, Manchester United (ManU) illustrates this story. It was for many years the best club, not just in England but in Europe. It has an immensely loyal fan base. Once upon a time in the Fifties, it was bought by the local butcher. Now it is owned by an American family who bought it in 2005 for £790 million. Now they want to sell. Their fans deride them as the Club has not won any prizes for some years. Yet the name ManU is valuable. A Qatar family has offered £5 billion. The fans are impatient to get rid of the Glazer family but there is a lot more haggling going on.

Just note however that whatever trouble the country may be in, there is a corner of England where the value of a club has gone up more than six times in 18 years. Not bad going!

Tags: corporate behaviour, uk, workplace harassment, me too movement, social media exposure, workplace rules, bernard looney, bp, tony danker, cbi, crispin odey, inflation, bank of england, mental health, generalised anxiety disorder, job market, prince william, earthshot prize, royal family, football, manchester united, glazer family