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Businesses Need to be Concerned About Employee Privacy as Much as Consumer Privacy



Employee Privacy

By Andrew Bourne

Of late, there have been a lot of headlines around major technology players putting customer privacy first and making data privacy one of their core values.

The business landscape is hurriedly re-orienting itself to provide the digital consumer with a safe space where their data is protected round the clock.

Meanwhile, there’s another important stakeholder whose privacy equally matters. Employees have just as much right to privacy in the workplace.

Recent trends like remote working and hybrid models have heightened the importance of employee privacy

Forced to switch overnight to remote work, organisations turned to digital collaboration and productivity tools to enable their workforce to continue their day-to-day operations. With little to no time to vet third-party vendors, organisations had to purchase and implement technology quickly or use free applications without weighing vulnerabilities.

But this hasty transition was not without its risks, especially for employees. For instance, the steep rise in user base for video conferencing tools caught the hackers’ attention and live meetings were invaded in some cases.

Moreover, audio/video calls while working from home means that varied details of employees’ personal lives are archived in vendors’ data records, at risk of being compromised unless the vendor has a stringent data protection program.

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Many companies introducing remote monitoring software when their employees began working from home also raised a lot of privacy concerns.

According to Gartner, more than one out of four companies purchased technology during the pandemic to passively track and monitor their employees.

Another area where the delicate balance between privacy and necessity worried employees was the interim health data collection (like vaccination proof, medical records, household surveys, status updates, etc.) carried out to ensure a safe return to the office.

Workers want their employers to be transparent and upfront with their data practices

Employee data collection is not new. Employers have been long studying workplace patterns, engagement survey responses, and team dynamics to foster a productive work environment.

Employees are usually willing to work together with their employer on this, provided the data gathered directly serves an internal business goal as well as the latter inform beforehand about what the data will be used for, how it will be stored, and who will have access to it. The same goes for employee monitoring. A 2018 Gartner study reported that more than 50% of the respondents were comfortable with monitoring on grounds of valid reasons from the employer.

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To put things in perspective, employees willingly trust employers to keep their data safe and use it responsibly. But this trust is broken when employers keep employees in the dark about what purpose their data serves or cross a line with tracking by going to lengths like uninformed surveillance or camera monitoring. The moment employees feel their employer is invading their privacy, it will reflect in the organisation’s attrition rate.

Shaky legal ground

Businesses may also be placing themselves on a shaky legal ground when it comes to employee privacy. In terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), employers have to make employees aware that their productivity and performance is being monitored and should provide reasons for doing so. The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA), meanwhile, restricts the interception of communication except under very specific circumstances.

Businesses may also be placing themselves on a shaky legal ground when it comes to employee privacy. In terms of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) employers are required to display a simple and conspicuous policy regarding personal information data. To avoid any legal complications, employers should obtain employees’ consent as well as buy-in before implementing monitoring tools.

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Rather than trying to evade these legal minefields, employers should look to build trust between themselves and employees, and build a safe and compliant environment where privacy is assured.

Commitment from the top

Ultimately, employee privacy is as much a leadership prerogative as anything else. It requires organisational commitment on an ongoing basis. Employee data, like customer data, is of critical importance and warrants the same level of protective measures like robust encryption both at rest and in transit, clear data handling statements, and informed consent. In the case of third-party services, the safe choice for businesses is to work with vendors who espouse an ethical approach to data privacy protection, are compliant with local regulations, and would never monetize data.

When privacy is assured, the trust relationship grows stronger. You build more loyal employees who are willing to go the extra mile for customers, ultimately resulting in a positive impact on your bottom line. As such, employee privacy shouldn’t be treated as a feature but as a non-negotiable given.

Andrew Bourne is the Regional Manager – MEA, Zoho Corporation

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Ecobank Promotes Employees for Better Efficiency



Ecobank cardless withdrawal

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

To realign its workforce for better efficiency in line with best practices, Ecobank Nigeria has promoted 682 staff effective May 1, 2021,

The elevated employees represent 26 per cent of its core staff and the action was purely to reward their efforts and commitment to the growth of the business.

This development is coming despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the attendant impact on business performance globally.

The Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, in a statement issued by the banking institution, disclosed that workers remain the greatest asset of the company.

“It is commendable that the board and management of Ecobank Nigeria exceptionally approved the promotion exercise at this time,” he was quoted as saying.

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He explained that, “The promoted staff were selected through Ecobank Group’s standardized performance management system; an in-house developed performance management system which uses both financial and non-financial metrics to appraise staff.”

“As we progress on the journey to becoming the bank of choice in Nigeria, the empowerment and growth of our people remain a critical cornerstone for achieving the desired market leadership, the Ecobank brand promise, and a respectable return to our shareholders.

“We are re-building our bank and our people continue to be the most valuable contributors to our present and future success.

“While these individuals have been recognized at this time, it by no means belittles the contributions of other colleagues who have also done well. The promotion is a continuous exercise and all hard-working employees will eventually be promoted,” Mr Akinwuntan added.

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“Let us continue to grow the bank and delight our customers to enable us to achieve our desired target of becoming the preferred bank in Nigeria and contribute positively to the growth of the Ecobank Group and Africa,” the MD urged the members of staff.

“As a bank, we remain committed to prioritizing the development and career growth of our people and ensuring commensurate recognition continues to apply to all other deserving staff,” he assured.

Meanwhile, Ecobank has announced the recruitment of the first batch of 60 new entry-level trainees into its workforce as part of its growth agenda.

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The new employees will be absorbed into the firm’s training programme at the state-of-the-art Ecobank Academy in Lagos.

This being part of the bank’s deliberate policy to train and equip its workforce in line with its transformation drive to make the bank the most preferred financial institution in the country.

The rigorous training of new staff is targeted at preparing the graduates to better serve its customers in a convenient and accessible manner.

Ecobank Nigeria is a subsidiary of the Ecobank Group, the leading pan-African banking group with operations in 33 African countries and an international presence in four locations (London, Paris, Beijing and Dubai).

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Gebeya Targets Chunk of $1.5trn Freelancer Economy Industry



Gebeya Amadou Daffe Becky Tsadik

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Though the global freelancer economy industry is estimated to worth $1.5 trillion, Africa only controls 1.4 per cent and according to data, North America accounts for over half of the total freelancers in the world, about 78 million, with $486 million going to tech freelancers.

But this is about to change as a pan-African source for freelance professional talent, Gebeya, is target a fair chunk of the pie.

In 2020, the company raised a $2 million seed investment co-led by Partech and Orange Ventures and followed by Consonance Investment Managers, to set up the machine for scale, fully automated and digitized.

On Monday, June 14, 2021, the firm announced the launch of its revamped marketplace, the first of its kind in terms of reach in Africa. Prior to investment, Gebeya operated mostly a manual non-scalable marketplace model.

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As experts project, freelancers will constitute 80 per cent of the workforce by 2030 andGebeya’s vision is to unlock the power of the skilled workforce on the continent and increase the number of innovative startups leading the helm of digital transformation.

The Gebeya Marketplace boasts of an intelligent matching algorithm that considers location, language, and budget, an automated matching for a seamless experience on a single dashboard and the ability to create a profile and request talent at no cost.

Also, the platform has an option to hire individual talent with specialized skills or build a core team, a dedicated Account Representative, a smooth handling of administrative and finance processes, and an access to a diverse pool, ready to work remotely.

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Visitors to the Gebeya Marketplace are matched with freelancers from a carefully curated pool, trusted by multinational telecommunications companies like Orange, as well as e-commerce startups such as Limestart, and logistics startup Paps.

“It’s time for businesses to leverage the sharp skills and fresh perspective that freelancers infuse into a permanent workforce,” said Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-founder of Gebeya.

“Africa doesn’t have a talent deficiency, it has a matching problem and that is what Gebeya is seeking to address through the deployment of a true Pan-African freelance marketplace,” he added.

“Freelancers are part of a smart, agile hiring strategy. We plan to expand our pool of skilled freelance talent to 15,000 within the next 3 years,” noted Amadou.

Since its inception, Gebeya has played an integral role in aggressively moving the needle forward, bringing Africa’s competitiveness to the forefront of the global digital and technical landscape. New features on the platform will connect businesses with talent in minutes.

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Demand for African talent on the Gebeya platform is Pan-African, from East to West Africa – and reaches as far as the EU and the US, as its quality and calibre is comparable to freelancers in those markets. Clients are only matched with talents who have successfully passed vetting, testing, and an interview. Freelance talents possess experience in exploding sectors like fintech, healtech, agritech, and logistics & supply chains, meaning individual entrepreneurs, startups, and large enterprises alike will benefit.

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Nigerian Oil Workers Threaten to Shut Down Chevron



Shut Down Chevron

By Adedapo Adesanya

Some oil workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have threatened to disrupt oil field operations of Chevron Nigeria Limited.

The Nigerian oil workers, through its joint executive union, NUPENGASSAN, threatened this action following the refusal of the company to meet its 14-day ultimatum issued to address their demands.

In a letter addressed to the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Chevron Nigeria Limited, the aggrieved employees alleged the energy firm of inhumane treatment of three of their members.

“The inhuman treatment meted out to the affected Nigerian workers is antithetical to all applicable laws of the federal government of Nigeria as well as other international laws that guide employment and the protection of the rights of workers.

“As a union, we are greatly disturbed by your disregard for due process the termination of the Nigerian workers,” a part of the letter read.

The union also raised dust over what it described as the unlawful disengagement of Bukola Sola Adebawo, James Ukachukwu and John Ayeni.

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The group noted that the firing of the three workers attached to IESL, Candid Oil and Expameadow was influenced by Chevron, which it claimed adopted new labour policies that were detrimental to contract labour workers and in contravention of labour laws, as well as in disregard of the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

And as a result, the Joint Executive Committee of NUPENGASSAN in Chevron issued a 14-day notice, demanding that the termination of the Nigerian workers be rescinded, warning that it would take all steps deemed necessary to protect the rights of the Nigerian workers.

But after the 14 days’ notice expired, Chevron and the contract companies refused to meet the demands of the union.

The group said the 10 major issues raised in their letter dated January 21, 2021, have remained unresolved despite several meetings and the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

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“Our findings revealed that the management has tactfully perfected the plans to casualize the contracts, moving present IEME maintenance labour contract personnel to a service contract on reduced pay which will be determined by the new service contractors.

“All personnel on the IEME maintenance labour contract will be forced to go home, and the new companies will provide new employees for the service contracts,” the unions said, adding that the company was also determined to short-change staff who were compelled to work from home in the payment of compensation for ergonomic tools.

“CNL through her labour contract companies has directed labour contract personnel working from home to provide receipts for ergonomic chairs and tables for them to compensate with N70,000.

“The ergonomic chair costs $1,250 in the market; therefore, we are demanding unconditionally N150,000 flat payments to all affected labour contract personnel working from home as compensation for ergonomic tools required to work safely at home,” the oil workers’ group said.

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The union said that what it found most troubling was the surreptitious move to casualise the labour force, adding that – “it has come to the notice of NUPENGASSAN JEC that management plans to change all the manpower contract (Labour Contracts) to service contracts as it is presently happening to – IEME, Xepameado, and Ykish contracts. The contractors that supply manpower to Chevron are being categorized as service contract while the jobs remain as labour jobs.”

“The plan to change all jobs to casual jobs is against the FML&E guidelines. It is only a contractor that supplies manpower and tools to the organization that can be categorized as a service contract! The JEC is demanding that all manpower contracts should be changed to a labour contract with immediate effect.”

In its latest letter, the union threatened to shut down Chevron oilfield operations without further notice if the company fails to take necessary steps.

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