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Conquering adversity: Female leaders reflect on resilience in the face of overwhelming odds

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Conquering adversity: Female leaders reflect on resilience in the face of overwhelming odds

It’s official, according to the most recent data on consumer sentiment: as Australians prepare for additional rate increases and as inflation continues to bite, discretionary spending is being dramatically reduced. 

In the meantime, almost half of businesses reported rising operational costs, as per the latest ABS data. The business environment is getting more challenging due to labour shortages, supply chain interruptions, and other factors, and things could get worse before they get better. 

This binary attitude towards leadership examines business and gender through two opposing lenses; that you can either be a compassionate, empathetic leader or a forthright businessperson. In reality, regardless of where a person sits on the gender spectrum, leaders today must be multifaceted and ever-changing. 

Sadly, leadership in Australia is still far from equal. Women, non-binary people and those from minority groups and diverse backgrounds are still significantly outnumbered when it comes to leadership positions. For this to change, attitudes towards gender and the workplace must be reimagined to achieve true equality. 

Moreover, despite the fact that the past two years have undoubtedly been among the most difficult, women leaders have encountered unique difficulties throughout this time, which has seen a fall in gender equality. Earlier, Dynamic Business stated that a poll found that women are mistreated and underpaid at work, with the national pay gap anticipated to reach $966 million per week or $51.8 billion per year.

The study revealed that gender discrimination remained the biggest driver of the pay difference, according to the economics of the gender pay gap issued by KPMG, Diversity Council Australia (DCA), and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). 

Cashflow woes

The latest Xero Small Business Insights report, Crunch: Cash flow challenges facing small businesses, uses the anonymised and aggregated data of thousands of Xero customers in Australia to deeply dive into small business cash flow trends.

According to the study, 92 per cent of Australian small businesses experience at least one cash flow “crunch” month each year, which is characterised as a period when expenses outpace income. In Australia, 20 per cent of small businesses experience more than six cash flow problems annually. 

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Monitoring cash flow is critical in a high inflation environment as small businesses try to juggle expenses and revenues. The 6.1% year-on-year rise in the CPI in June shows that inflation continued to rise in the year’s first half. This is the highest inflation rate since the introduction of the GST, which means many small business owners have not had any experience running their businesses in such an environment. So how can a female founder strengthen her business’s resilience in the current business environment?

Ruth Thomas, the founder of the media and communications company ChangeMakers Media, spoke with female business owners to get their tips on fortifying their inner resilience, becoming adaptive, and thriving in the business.

Sarah Thornton, Founder, Finders Keepers says: “Inflation has definitely affected us directly, as a lot of our events have been on hold for two years already, which we’ve had to move to this year. Our supplier and services costs have gone up by 5 to 10 per cent for events and additional staff surcharges, so it’s hard for us to compare things to two years ago. Financially, it’s a whole different game, and it’s been challenging. 

“During these times, you’ve got to have creative courage and resilience to try new things. Staying in business is an act of bravery at the moment, which includes riding the ebbs and flows. I’ve definitely learnt a lot about being able to weather the storm in the last two years. You need to be able to get back to basics or change the things you do in business. 

“People think they can’t change anything and can’t batten down the hatches, but understanding your profit and loss and numbers is key to knowing what you actually need to survive. However, having a support network and being part of your community as a business is everything. If we didn’t have the community supporting us, we wouldn’t have lasted. If your business doesn’t have a heart and soul, it won’t survive the tough times.” 

Anna Ross, Founder Kester Black says: “I launched my first six nail polish colours in 2012 but didn’t stop my full-time job to run Kester Black full time until 2016. When the pandemic hit, we had to lean up. We moved to work from home and stopped packing and sending our own orders. We also had many supply chain issues, with some of our stock taking 14 months to arrive. While these were all challenges, facing obstacles as a young female business leader is something I’ve become accustomed to. 

“As a female entrepreneur in the cosmetics world, I often work with or alongside large heritage businesses that are generally owned or managed by men. Unfortunately, young female entrepreneurs are not taken very seriously. But as a creative, I’ve always thought differently, plus I simply don’t take no for an answer. I spent a year emailing a supplier who wouldn’t work with me initially because he said my company was too small. Finally, he took me on, and within a year, Kester Black was their second largest customer. 

“Regardless of what’s happening in the business or economic climate, it’s really important that young female entrepreneurs reach out and ask for help. Find mentors and build your connections; doing so helps you with the challenges that come with business and build you into a success. Developing resilience, in tough and good times, as a female business leader is essential; it helps you learn to adapt and forces you to be smarter.”

Jessica Ruhfus, Founder & CEO, Collabosaurus says: “The unpredictability and constant need to adapt quickly over the last 2.5 years have been exhausting for so many businesses. Many of our clients experienced burnout, as did I and, sadly, there’s no easy road ahead as we face more dramatic changes in the economic landscape. At Collabosaurus, we’ve seen both immense growths as well as sharp losses and stagnating periods. Challenges, rejection, tough conversations, and life-altering decision-making come with running a business. 

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“Throw a global pandemic, recession, major political shifts and flooding into the mix and your capacity for resilience increases out of survival. After burning out, another necessity was to reassess priorities and health, which has been a great positive shift. It’s easy to get caught up in self-doubt and blame, especially when there are external forces at play, but we all need to be easier on ourselves. Connections and relationships are truly everything; I wouldn’t be here without my amazing network of friends, colleagues, clients, team, collaborators and brand partners.”

Kellie Brown, Co-Founder, Fig & Bloom says: “We launched into a new market in Brisbane during the thick of the pandemic, which had its challenges. However, we’ve been open for 10 months now and are understanding our differing markets better than ever. Throughout the past year, we faced two main challenges with this expansion, including developing a culture of excellence with a brand new team and affordable customer acquisition. 

“Staff turnover in our industry is quite high, and over time we’ve acquired the ability to recruit, select and train staff quickly. Having strong core values in place and living and breathing those values has been key to our success. We want our team to dream big, and we support ambitious and creative people on their journey. During difficult times I’ve had to be really firm but fair. However, doing the hard things with compassion, love, and kindness has been essential.”

According to Louise Southall, an economist for Xero, inflation has a big impact on small businesses as they struggle to maintain cash flow and remain profitable in a situation where expenses are rapidly increasing.

“It has been a busy few weeks in terms of economic news, with the inflation data and the Reserve Bank Board meeting today. Much of the attention around inflation and interest rates are focused on how households cope. But inflation also hugely impacts small businesses as they try to maintain cash flow and stay profitable in an environment of rapidly rising costs,”  Louise said. 

“Small businesses relied on their trusted financial advisors more than ever during COVID. But now is not the time to relax – monitoring costs and ensuring prices are set high enough to stay profitable is critical. Small businesses can quickly find themselves under cash flow pressure when costs are rising so fast, not charging enough to cover their expenses.” 

Bridging the gap

The research also contains a breakdown of the gender pay gap by income quintile, demonstrating how gender discrimination, a lack of advancement opportunities, and underrepresentation in management affect women throughout their careers. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimated that on a global scale, it would take 257 years to reach economic parity between women and men. 

Despite this, two-thirds of new businesses created in Australia in the last decade have been founded by women, according to Xero, and the last 20 years have seen a 46 per cent increase in female-owned businesses. 

More needs to be done to guarantee female entrepreneurs survive these challenging economic times, despite the newly elected Labor party promising increased assistance for women in regards to equality, financial equity, and business. 

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Read more about the online event hosted by One Roof and Pin Payments this month on August 18, discussing resilience, businesses and advice for female founders.

Pin Payments are also sponsoring access to 12 months of business support through One Roof’s memberships for 5 women-led businesses. 

Each business owner has the opportunity to elevate a fellow female founder, creating a positive domino effect of much-needed access to business resources, coaching, networks and more for women in business. Apply via the One Roof Website. 

For more information on the event, visit https://events.humanitix.com/unstoppable-female-forces-women-and-the-future-of-online-business.

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

LONDON (AP) — Amazon won’t have to pay about 250 million euros ($273 million) in back taxes after European Union judges ruled in favor of the U.S. e-commerce giant Thursday, dealing a defeat to the 27-nation bloc in its efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance.

The ruling by the EU’s top court is final, ending the long-running legal battle over tax arrangements between Amazon and Luxembourg’s government and marking a further setback for a crackdown by antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager.

The Court of Justice backed a 2021 decision by judges in a lower court who sided with Amazon, saying the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, had not proved its case that Amazon received illegal state support.

“The Court of Justice confirms that the Commission has not established that the tax ruling given to Amazon by Luxembourg was a State aid that was incompatible with the internal market” of the EU, the court said in a press release.

Amazon welcomed the ruling, saying it confirms that the company “followed all applicable laws and received no special treatment.”

“We look forward to continuing to focus on delivering for our customers across Europe,” the company said in a statement.

The commission said it “will carefully study the judgment and assess its implications.”

The case dates back to 2017, when Vestager charged Amazon with unfairly profiting from special low tax conditions since 2003 in tiny Luxembourg, where its European headquarters are based. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits in the EU were not taxed, she said.

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The EU has taken aim at deals between individual countries and companies used to lure foreign multinationals in search of a place to establish their EU headquarters. The practice led to EU states competing with each other and multinationals playing them off one another.

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Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

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Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla is recalling nearly all vehicles sold in the U.S., more than 2 million, to update software and fix a defective system that’s supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when using Autopilot.

Documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators say the update will increase warnings and alerts to drivers and even limit the areas where basic versions of Autopilot can operate.

The recall comes after a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a series of crashes that happened while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was in use. Some were deadly.

The agency says its investigation found Autopilot’s method of making sure that drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and can lead to “foreseeable misuse of the system.”

The added controls and alerts will “further encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility,” the documents said.

But safety experts said that, while the recall is a good step, it still makes the driver responsible and doesn’t fix the underlying problem that Tesla’s automated systems have with spotting and stopping for obstacles in their path.

The recall covers models Y, S, 3 and X produced between Oct. 5, 2012, and Dec. 7 of this year. The update was to be sent to certain affected vehicles on Tuesday, with the rest getting it later.

Shares of Tesla slid more than 3% in earlier trading Wednesday but recovered amid a broad stock market rally to end the day up 1%.

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The attempt to address the flaws in Autopilot seemed like a case of too little, too late to Dillon Angulo, who was seriously injured in 2019 crash involving a Tesla that was using the technology along a rural stretch of Florida highway where the software isn’t supposed to be deployed.

“This technology is not safe, we have to get it off the road,” said Angulo, who is suing Tesla as he recovers from injuries that included brain trauma and broken bones. “The government has to do something about it. We can’t be experimenting like this.”

Autopilot includes features called Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control, with Autosteer intended for use on limited access freeways when it’s not operating with a more sophisticated feature called Autosteer on City Streets.

The software update will limit where Autosteer can be used. “If the driver attempts to engage Autosteer when conditions are not met for engagement, the feature will alert the driver it is unavailable through visual and audible alerts, and Autosteer will not engage,” the recall documents said.

Depending on a Tesla’s hardware, the added controls include “increasing prominence” of visual alerts, simplifying how Autosteer is turned on and off, and additional checks on whether Autosteer is being used outside of controlled access roads and when approaching traffic control devices. A driver could be suspended from using Autosteer if they repeatedly fail “to demonstrate continuous and sustained driving responsibility,” the documents say.

According to recall documents, agency investigators met with Tesla starting in October to explain “tentative conclusions” about the fixing the monitoring system. Tesla did not concur with NHTSA’s analysis but agreed to the recall on Dec. 5 in an effort to resolve the investigation.

Auto safety advocates for years have been calling for stronger regulation of the driver monitoring system, which mainly detects whether a driver’s hands are on the steering wheel. They have called for cameras to make sure a driver is paying attention, which are used by other automakers with similar systems.

Philip Koopman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who studies autonomous vehicle safety, called the software update a compromise that doesn’t address a lack of night vision cameras to watch drivers’ eyes, as well as Teslas failing to spot and stop for obstacles.

“The compromise is disappointing because it does not fix the problem that the older cars do not have adequate hardware for driver monitoring,” Koopman said.

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Koopman and Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, contend that crashing into emergency vehicles is a safety defect that isn’t addressed. “It’s not digging at the root of what the investigation is looking at,” Brooks said. “It’s not answering the question of why are Teslas on Autopilot not detecting and responding to emergency activity?”

Koopman said NHTSA apparently decided that the software change was the most it could get from the company, “and the benefits of doing this now outweigh the costs of spending another year wrangling with Tesla.”

In its statement Wednesday, NHTSA said the investigation remains open “as we monitor the efficacy of Tesla’s remedies and continue to work with the automaker to ensure the highest level of safety.”

Autopilot can steer, accelerate and brake automatically in its lane, but is a driver-assist system and cannot drive itself, despite its name. Independent tests have found that the monitoring system is easy to fool, so much that drivers have been caught while driving drunk or even sitting in the back seat.

In its defect report filed with the safety agency, Tesla said Autopilot’s controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse.”

A message was left early Wednesday seeking further comment from the Austin, Texas, company.

Tesla says on its website that Autopilot and a more sophisticated Full Self Driving system are meant to help drivers who have to be ready to intervene at all times. Full Self Driving is being tested by Tesla owners on public roads.

In a statement posted Monday on X, formerly Twitter, Tesla said safety is stronger when Autopilot is engaged.

NHTSA has dispatched investigators to 35 Tesla crashes since 2016 in which the agency suspects the vehicles were running on an automated system. At least 17 people have been killed.

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The investigations are part of a larger probe by the NHTSA into multiple instances of Teslas using Autopilot crashing into emergency vehicles. NHTSA has become more aggressive in pursuing safety problems with Teslas, including a recall of Full Self Driving software.

In May, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department includes NHTSA, said Tesla shouldn’t be calling the system Autopilot because it can’t drive itself.

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AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this story.

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Why Was Sam Altman Fired? Possible Ties to China D2 (Double Dragon) Data from Hackers

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Theories are going around the internet why Sam Altman was fired. On an insider tech forum (Blind) – one person claims to know by third-hand account and how this news will trickle into the media over the next couple of weeks.

It’s said OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models, which includes GPT-4. This data was obtained through a hidden business contract with a D2 shell company called Whitefly, which was based in Singapore. This D2 group has the largest and biggest crawling/indexing/scanning capacity in the world 10x more than Alphabet Inc (Google), hence the deal so Open AI could get their hands on vast quantities of data for training after exhausting their other options.

The Chinese government became aware of this arrangement and raised concerns with the Biden administration. As a result, the NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed that OpenAI had been using data from D2. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, which is a major investor in OpenAI, was informed of the findings and ordered Altman’s removal.

There was also suggestion that Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board. This lack of candor ultimately led to his dismissal and is what the board publicly alluded to when they said “not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”

To summarize what happened with Sam Altman’s firing:

1. Sam Altman was removed from OpenAI due to his ties to a Chinese cyber army group.

2.OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models.

3. The Chinese government raised concerns about this arrangement with the Biden administration.

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4. The NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed OpenAI’s use of D2 data.

5. Satya Nadella ordered Altman’s removal after being informed of the findings.

6. Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board.

 

We’ll see in the next couple of weeks if this story holds up or not.

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