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Pasig City to get Anti-Red Tape Unit



THE ANTI-RED TAPE AUTHORITY (ARTA) signed its first agreement with a local government unit (LGU), partnering with Pasig City for the creation of a specialized unit to address bureaucratic red tape.

ARTA Director-General Jeremiah B. Belgica inked the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pasig City Mayor Victor “Vico” N. Sotto to establish the Anti-Red Tape Unit, ARTA said in a statement Thursday.

The unit would notify ARTA about the formulation, modification, and repeal of regulations. It would verify the accuracy of the city’s Citizen’s Charter and its compliance with the zero contact policy and prescribed processing time.

Citizen’s charters detail each government agency’s checklist of requirements and procedures for its applications and request processes. ARTA last year set a December deadline for agencies to submit their respective charters.

“With the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding, we’re confident that Pasig will become much better in removing red tape in the coming years… [And through] this partnership, we will be able to help each other make Pasig business-friendly and make our systems and processes more efficient sa tulong po ng bawat isang nasa kwartong ito (with the help of everyone in this room,” Mr. Sotto was quoted as saying in the statement.

The MoU details the support to strengthen the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business law in Pasig from the UPPAF (University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation, Inc.) Regulatory Reform Support Program for National Development (RESPOND) Project and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippines.

The Ease of Doing Business law or RA 9485 was passed in 2018 to improve efficiency in government services.

The Philippines improved its ranking in the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business report to 95th from 124th a year earlier, but was still seventh among the 10 Southeast Asian nations measured.

ARTA is also set to assist Pasig City in assessing their business one-stop shop and in activating its local board assessment appeals, which hears appeals on property assessments.

The authority also presented their programs on a regulatory reform team, one-stop shops for construction permits and property registration, and regulatory impact assessment training, among others. — J.P.Ibañez

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Goldman Sachs sends traders home after positive COVID-19 case in Manhattan office



Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sent some traders home from its Manhattan headquarters after at least one employee tested positive for Covid-19, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The quarantine was imposed on a select group directly exposed to the infected worker at the firm’s downtown New York office, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The bank is moving forward with plans to start bringing back staffers across most divisions, telling some of them to prepare for week-in, week-out rotational shifts starting in October, the people said.

“Our people’s safety is our first priority, and we are taking appropriate precautions to make sure our workplaces remain safe for those who choose to return,” Leslie Shribman, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, said in a statement Thursday.

Banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Barclays Plc have faced similar setbacks, highlighting the challenges they will face in refilling offices. Even as Wall Street firms have seen revenue rise with most staff working from home, executives have expressed concerns about productivity and the erosion of company culture six months after their main towers emptied out.

Read more about JPMorgan’s return-to-office efforts

Goldman hasn’t seen any transmission of cases within its offices, according to a person monitoring the situation.

Earlier this week, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer David Solomon reinforced to the bank’s traders the importance of bringing people back to work, citing the damage to culture if things didn’t return to normal soon, the people said. The bank has taken a more relaxed approach with those facing child-care issues or pre-existing medical conditions.

Adding to the dilemma facing company decision makers, JPMorgan’s move last week to mandate that its senior traders return by Sept. 21 became politicized after drawing the attention of Donald Trump. The president inaccurately congratulated the bank for ordering everyone back.

Goldman has also revised its method of sharing information about new infections, choosing a different approach this time around compared to the initial outbreak earlier in the year. Broadly shared messages have been ditched for a more selective follow-up from the human resources department, communicated only to those who have been in close proximity to anyone who tested positive, the people said.

More must-read finance coverage from Fortune:

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Meralco wins 2020 International Business Award



Placing sustainability at the heart of its operations

The International Business Awards (IBA), the world’s premier business awards program, recognized Meralco for its 2019 Sustainability Report (SR) entitled “Sustaining the Future” – a groundbreaking report which highlights the company’s commitment to place sustainability at the forefront while addressing the energy needs of a thriving nation, today and for generations to come.  It is a comprehensive discussion of Meralco’s sustainability agenda promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). IBA awarded Meralco a Bronze Stevie for its maiden SR under the Best Annual Report category, along with entries from Turkey, Indonesia, and Spain.

As the Philippines’ largest electric distribution utility, Meralco is distinctively positioned to contribute to UN SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy. Under the leadership of President and CEO Atty. Ray C. Espinosa, Meralco also promotes and supports 10 other SDGs through its other businesses and initiatives. This holistic approach is reflected in Meralco’s sustainability agenda focused on four areas – Power, Planet, People, and Prosperity.

‘Sustaining the Future’ provides bases for transparent reporting and lends credence to Meralco’s sustainability practices. It articulates how sustainability is core to corporate strategy and operations and how Meralco addresses governance, social, and environmental imperatives”, Atty. Espinosa said.

To achieve robust, material, and credible sustainability reporting, Meralco fulfilled the Global Reporting Initiative’s Materiality Disclosures Service. Meralco also received third-party assurance that its Sustainability Report contained reasonable and balanced accounts of the company’s sustainability performance and that all disclosures made were in accordance with best practices.

“We are very happy that ‘Sustaining the Future’ has resonated with and has been well-received by our stakeholders—from our employees and investors to the customers and communities we serve,” added Meralco’s Chief Sustainability Officer Raymond B. Ravelo. “This milestone report is our primary platform for communicating Meralco’s overarching sustainability program, ‘Powering the Good Life’.  Beyond providing information about our practices and projects, our aim is to influence and inspire as many as we can to join us on this sustainability journey.”

According to Atty. Espinosa, the award is a recognition of Meralco’s earnest efforts. “We are very honored that Meralco’s first-ever SR and our initiatives towards our sustainability agenda have been recognized on the global stage. This achievement pushes the company to further focus our strategic direction towards sustainability, allowing us to provide affordable, accessible, reliable, and clean power, while protecting and preserving Mother Earth, cultivating a culture of excellence and stewardship in our organization, and fostering inclusive growth for a prosperous nation – truly powering the good life for all.”

The International Business Awards is the world’s premier business awards program. All individuals and organizations worldwide are eligible to submit nominations. The 2020 IBA received entries from organizations in 63 nations and territories.

More than 3,800 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories. Stevie Award winners were determined by the average scores of more than 250 executives worldwide who participated in the judging process from July through early September.

“Despite the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on organizations and working people worldwide, the number and quality of nominations we received in this year’s International Business Awards attest to the continued outstanding performance of many organizations.  The commitment we’ve seen through these nominations to maintaining the success, health, and safety of employees, customers, and communities is truly impressive,” said Stevie Awards president Maggie Gallagher.

As the ongoing COVID-19 crisis will prevent winners from receiving their awards on stage during a traditional gala IBA banquet, winners will be celebrated instead during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday, 1 December.





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How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse



When AG Hair moved into its new, 70,000-sq.-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Coquitlam, B.C., two years ago, it was part of a plan to supercharge expansion of its hair care product line to salons in international markets. Europe was next on its list. Then COVID-19 hit.

Not only was the European expansion put on hold, but salons in major markets across Canada and the United States were temporarily closed. Very few were purchasing hair products, so manufacturing was halted in mid-March, leaving most of the company’s 82 employees out of work.

AG Hair could have waited out the pandemic but instead decided to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot. It began providing hand-sanitizing products for front-line health-care workers, addressing a global shortage.

“We realized there was this massive need for health-care professionals, and we wanted to make a difference and be able to provide them with the products they needed,” says AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.

AG Hair received Canadian and U.S. approvals a week after applying for the licences needed to make sanitizer, and produced samples to show local authorities within 48 hours.

AG Hair’s Coquitlam facility has pivoted to making hand sanitizer (Photograph by Alana Paterson)

“That rapid response time, and the fact that we had gone through all of the Health Canada regulatory hurdles, showed [the local health authorities] that we were a partner they could trust and someone they could look to, to deliver the products they needed,” Fraser says.

Within a month, the company started pumping out the products, first for the health-care industry, then for consumers on its own website and on Amazon. About 10 per cent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer production also went to people in need, as identified by organizations such as United Way.

Parallel 49 Brewing Company is also using AG Hair’s Coquitlam manufacturing facility to produce its own blend of liquid hand sanitizer for front-line health and emergency workers, in partnership with the B.C. government.

Fraser credits his team for its energy and creativity in making the hand-sanitizer production happen, and helping put AG Hair staff back to work.

“We realized we had an opportunity . . . and then it became this incredible, almost war-room mentality and collaboration with our owners, our executive team and our people to say, ‘How are we going to get through this?’ ” Fraser recalls. “I think our success speaks to the type of people we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing every avenue we have, understanding how we can produce the products and making it happen.”

AG Hair’s commitment to investing in future growth is a big part of what makes it a Best Managed company, says Nicole Coleman, a partner at Deloitte and co-lead of its Best Managed Program in B.C.

“Capability and innovation come through quite strongly with this company,” says Coleman, who is also AG Hair’s coach at Deloitte. “I don’t think they would be able to pivot as quickly if they weren’t so strategic and had the internal capabilities to do it.”

The manufacturing facility was a big investment, but one Coleman says has already paid dividends.

“They were looking forward with a strategic plan in mind about future growth and how they could expand, rather than just focusing on the day to day,” she says. “Best Managed companies are always pushing the envelope and are conscious about planning for the future.”

AG Hair was founded in Vancouver in 1989 by hairstylist John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The husband-and-wife team began bottling hair products in their basement and selling them direct to salons from the back of a station wagon.

The company eventually moved its manufacturing off-site, to a third party. One day, John went to watch the operations and was surprised to see salt being poured into the mixture. Although he was told salt is commonly used as a thickener, he didn’t like the potential side effects of dry hair and skin.

It was at that moment John decided the company would oversee its own manufacturing. “Through that experience, John also became an expert in product development,” says Fraser, who came to the company in 2000 as director of sales.

After having worked for more than two decades at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, Fraser was eager to work at a smaller, more agile company where he felt he could help make a difference.

“It was perfect because I got to bring a lot of structure and process that I learned in those organizations, but I also learned an awful lot about being an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: that sense of urgency, the decision-making process, the need to get things done and drive things forward and pursue opportunities,” he says.

Fraser has helped drive AG Hair’s expansion into the U.S. and internationally, including Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South America. A portion of its sales go to One Girl Can, a charity founded by Lotte that provides schooling, education and mentoring for girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser also oversees the development of new, trending products, including a new deep-conditioning hair mask made with 98 per cent plant-based and natural ingredients. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the latest addition to the company’s product lineup.

“We don’t see the demand [for hand-sanitizing products] going away,” he says. “As the isolation policies start to get lifted, people are going to need forms of security and protocols as they get back into regular life and work. We see there’s going to be a need for these types of products long-term.”

This article appears in print in the June 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Working out the kinks.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.

The post How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse appeared first on Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News.

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