Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Employers will still hire those who "fit in" but just won't be able to mention that age was a factor -- thus wasting the time of many older (or younger) job applicants

Thousands of companies could be heading for expensive and embarrassing legal action when new age discrimination laws come into force in October, according to two studies. A survey of 18,000 employees has discovered that almost half believe that it is acceptable to discriminate on grounds of age when it comes to hiring staff or setting salaries. They were presented with six scenarios that would break the new law, and between a third and a half of respondents said that all six were a normal part of office life.

A third of people thought that it was fine to pay someone more if they were older, regardless of experience, and more than a third said that it was perfectly acceptable to turn down a job applicant if their age did not suit the company's image. An even higher proportion (40 per cent) said that it was fair to hire staff on the grounds of age so that they would fit into a team.

The attitudes are a serious concern for employers. Under the law, line managers and employees, as well as employers, are liable to charges of age discrimination and their behaviour can be cited at a tribunal. That leaves companies vulnerable to huge payouts if their staff breach the legislation, as there will be no cap on compensation.

Rachel Krys, head of communications at the Employers Forum on Age, which commissioned the research, said that companies needed to wake up to their new responsibilities. "There is clearly a long way to go before age discrimination is on a par with race and sex discrimination," she said. "Employers are just starting to realise that it is not enough to have the right policies in place if their managers and staff do not recognise age discrimination when they see it." In the US, cases involving age discrimination are increasing at a faster rate than any other form of claim.

The law, which comes into effect on October 1, will sweep away decades of tradition, especially in recruitment, by banning terms such as "bright young graduate" or "experience required" from job advertisments because they could be an attempt to screen out old or young candidates. Ageist jokes will also be prohibited and job application forms may no longer request a date of birth.

From October 1 it will be unlawful to: Ask a job applicant for a date of birth; Place job adverts in niche magazines; Use hidden messages in adverts such as 'energetic'; Get rid of staff on a last-in, first-out basis; Allow older staff to 'coast' into retirement


The rarely acknowledged downside of changing from biologically normal sex-roles

Relationship terrorism is an increasingly ugly and destructive phenomenon between strong Alpha females and less driven, more laid-back, gamma guys. At first, it is easy to see the attraction between these disparate types. The taut, controlled, go-getting female finds a charming, flexible chap who seems to be everything she is not: relaxed, nurturing and fun. So far, so promising. He can help her uncoil and bring romance and much-needed tenderness into her brittle life, while she can provide a lifestyle which is initially thrilling for its full-throttle dynamism.

This was certainly the case between me and my ex, who, at seven years younger than me, was, when I met him, settled in a corporate job in Somerset, coasting along but never going to reach for the fiscal stars. He seemed such a world apart from me and my competitive, high-octane friends that at first being with him felt like taking a holiday from myself. It was a blessed relief.

The rot sets in when the haze of love burns off and lurking resentment on both sides surges to the surface. My ex became irate that the full beam of my focus was on my career, while I was frustrated that he expected me to change when I had never claimed to be the stay-at-home, earth-mother type. We both wanted support and emotional attention that the other seemed unable to give.

In a situation like this, the woman wants her man to pull his weight - mainly financially - and, in a typically direct fashion, lets him know it. He, however, feels emasculated by her capricious demands and seeks to undermine her in an effort to flex his masculine muscle.

In our only post-mortem on our failed relationship this spring, four months after he left, I said to my ex: 'You pulled the trigger on this relationship.' And he shot back: 'But you loaded the gun.' At the time I found his suggestion ludicrous. Sure, I was tense, stressed and distracted, but wasn't I working harder than him to bring home more bacon and look after our child? However, thinking about this article has changed my perspective. Relationship terrorism is not, as some glossy women's magazines have suggested, exclusively a male preserve. Both partners are equally guilty of colluding in a power struggle which, unless they seek to redress the balance, will destroy any chances of a fulfilling, lasting union.

Statistics bear this out: the number of women entering the workplace has increased by a third since 1975, and in 2005 one third of all managers in business were women. At the same time, 40 per cent of all marriages end in divorce. Clearly, it's difficult to deny the two sets of figures are in some way connected. Relationship psychologist Dr Pam Spurr, author of Sex, Guys And Chocolate, says: 'I've come across this phenomenon many times and with more women in high-powered positions, power struggles like this are ever more common. 'Hard-hitting, driven women are attracted to slightly gentler, more laid-back men because in their subconscious they know they need more of that to get balance in their lives.' But if opposites initially attract, over time they cause friction because what was first appealing becomes irritating to women and we end up thinking: 'I want a real man around, not a laid-back wimp.'

I have witnessed the lacerating cycles in which the man feels demeaned, so he thinks: 'Right, I'll demean her.' He feels bad about himself because he knows her friends and her peer group think he's a loser compared with her, so he lashes out....

So what is the impact on Alpha women who provoke such attacks from their partners? Do they slog it out or do such messy break-ups cause them to reassess their lives? Interestingly, Alison has married again and has given up her high-powered career to enable her second husband to be the main bread winner. She is qualifying as an astrologer, while her husband works in marketing. 'He feels more empowered and it is better emotionally for our relationship,' Alison says.

As I rehash my own failed relationship, the question I ask myself is: why didn't I go for an Alpha male in the first place? Psychologist Dr Robert Holden, author of Success Intelligence, says that often Alpha women do not go for their Alpha match because, for them, what appears on the outside to be emotional strength masks a fragility they have not come to terms with.

I would agree that, personally, I was too needy in emotional terms and so thought an Alpha male would not have time for me. 'The big failure of Alpha women is that they starve themselves of attention and nurturing so they don't know what they want,' explains Dr Holden. 'If they are not careful, they end up choosing a feminine, caring man to take up the slack. 'This works in the honeymoon period but afterwards the problem is that each is trying to change each other rather than enjoy each other's differences. 'The woman says: "My role as Alpha female is to whip you into shape and make you more of a man." 'And he says: "I'm scared of how confident you are, so my role is to show you that you're not that confident emotionally, so that in the end you will stay with me because you need me."'

The answer to successful relationships would appear to be the need for greater self-awareness and emotional honesty. 'These relationships can work if an Alpha woman can find her softer side and the gamma man she has chosen can find a stronger side without being emasculated,' says Dr Pam Spurr. 'What I've found about many Alpha women is that in reality they do want a really powerful man in their lives, but perhaps they think it's horribly old-fashioned to admit the fact. 'They think: "I'm tired of being in this role of money maker," but they don't dare own up to themselves or their peer group that actually they want a man who earns more - that takes them back three decades in the workplace. 'The element of the Alpha woman's character most deeply hidden is that secretly she longs to be taken care of.'

It may be an insult to feminism to admit it but, battle-weary and scarred by relationship terrorism, I more and more begin to agree. How wonderful it would be to be loved and supported. Can a woman have a successful career and a successful relationship? Increasingly, I fear the answer is 'No'.

More here


Many fruit drinks contain more sugar and calories than Coca-Cola, experts have found. Popular drinks are packed with hidden sugar and kilojoules, an investigation by The Sunday Mail found. And compared with freshly prepared fruit and vegetables they contain less fibre and fewer nutrients.

Dietician Kate Diprima said many people were not aware of the high kilojoule count in fruit drinks. "Many consumers choosing these are watching their weight and therefore will be surprised that the calories are comparable to cordial and soft drink," she said. Ms Diprima was asked by The Sunday Mail to analyse seven popular drinks, including a "blueberry blast"-flavoured Boost juice, Ribena blackcurrant fruit drink, Pop Tops orange drink, V8 Fruit & Veg Juice, Berri Juice It Up (pineapple, mango, banana and spirulina) and a McDonald's chocolate thick shake. "All the drinks analysed were incredibly sweet and concentrated, which only encourages a very sweet tooth," she said.

Coke was found to contain the fewest calories and the McDonald's chocolate shake the most. The orange-flavoured Pop Top, popular for children's lunch boxes, was not so popular with Ms Diprima. "It has no health benefits at all -- only five per cent juice or 12.5ml of orange juice. The only positive over the cola is that it is caffeine-free, therefore non-addictive," she said. "Poppers and pop-top juices should be limited to party foods, not lunchboxes."

Ribena, which is billed as containing real fruit juice and free of artificial sweeteners, contains 14.1g of sugar per 100ml. This makes it more sugary than cola. Coca-Cola, which is criticised for its lack of nutritional value, contains 10.6g of sugar per 100ml or 39.8g per can. The Boost blueberry blast fruit smoothie contains a whopping 72 calories per 100ml, or 468 calories in a regular serve -- quarter of an adult's recommended daily intake.

Diprima warned sugary drinks could cause bowel irritations, weight gain and dehydration. Derek Lewis, of the Australian Dental Association, said the drinks could also lead to dental problems. "You end up with either decay from the sugar in the drink or this erosion problem from the acid in the drink. In combination, high sugar and high acid is devastating," he said. "The profession is concerned about dental erosion, we call it the silent epidemic, particularly here in southeast Queensland, where acidic drinks, including citrus juices, dissolve teeth over time.

Dr Lewis advised parents to limit children's consumption of juice or fruit drinks. "It really doesn't matter what the source of the acid or the sugar is, whether it's a natural product or an artificial soft drink, they still have the same effect."

Queensland University of Technology Institute of Health and Biomedical researcher, Susan Ash, said the "high density" drinks could lead to child obesity. "The children can be getting quite significant amounts of unnecessary energy from the drinks," she said. "You only need to be consuming a small amount above your energy needs for your weight to go up." Ms Ash said the sugar from soft drink was metabolised the same way as sugar from juice. "It terms of weight control, it doesn't matter what the type of sugar, it's still going to give you that same amount of energy when it's broken down in the body," she said. "People don't go to a tap or bubbler any more to get a drink. "It has to be somehow processed into a flavoured beverage -- and it's hard to get a drink less than 600ml."


No comments: