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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

SEC Releases its Report on Causes, Solutions to the May Flash Crash That Hit Wall Street; Who is Mark Zuckerberg?; Equal Pay in the UK

Aired October 01, 2010 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICHARD QUEST, HOST: Tonight it's the view from the top. The new chief exec of United Airlines tells me, we're the biggest, we must be best.

New at the top, BP and Hewlett-Packard introduce their new chief execs.

And tough at the top, the Facebook movie about the founder Mark Zuckerberg, out today.

I'm Richard Quest. A cornucopia of chiefs, because I mean business.

Good evening.

Today, two became one. Continental Airlines and United wrapped up their $3.2-billion merger, and in doing so have now created the world's largest airline. The company, the holding company is called United Continental. And the shares began trading today. Right now those shares are up just 1 percent. But forget the holding company, what you and I need to talk about is the airlines underneath.

(DESK BELL CHIMES)

And how they actually performed. Come with me and you see exactly the size and scale of this airline. The new United will fly under the title United, and operate an estimated 5,800 flight a day, across all continents; 371 airports, obviously, around the world from Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa and to the U.S. United will have around 7 percent of global airline capacity.

Now if you think about how many airlines there are in the world, but this one carrier, to have 7 percent is quite extraordinary. But move it on and you see that they have got their work cut out for you. During the recession, both United and Continental suffered loses, 651 versus 282. The airlines, United is about a 20 to 30 percent bigger than Continental, but those losses reflect what was happening in the market.

So shareholders will be pleased to hear (ph) that the merged company is expecting to see gains of around 1.3 billion, out of costs, by 2013. In order to do all of this, the carrier must combine workforces of UAL and Continental. The new man at the helm is Jeff Smisek. He came from the Continental side of the industry. And when I interviewed him earlier, what I wanted to know is would there be job losses and how was he going to bring these two airlines together.

JEFF SMISEK, CEO, UNITED CONTINENTAL: We have very complementary networks. As a result there is very little overlap and very little effect on our front-line employees. What we are going to be doing is allocating the aircraft across this much broader route network. We have got 10 hubs worldwide and I expect to see a growth, certainly from an international perspective, because we are a global carrier and we will be the world's leading global carrier. I think you are going to see new destinations and increased frequency for business travelers.

QUEST: The biggest challenge, and you have been on the record saying it is not going to be easy, you may make mistakes on the way, but airline mergers, bringing the two together, are notoriously difficult, paved with errors of the past, because of cultural, of unions, all sorts of problems?

SMISEK: Well, Richard, we are going to have a culture at the new United that is very, very-uh, like what we have today at Continental. We are going to work together. We are going to treat people with dignity and respect, and treat customers with dignity and respect. We'll have direct, open, and honest communication. And we've got the right culture. I mean, this is a service business. If you have the right culture, then your co- workers want to do a good job. I mean, you can lecture them, but the only way you can really have somebody in a service business, do a good job is if they want to. And with the right culture they'll want to give good service. The customers will come back, when the customers come back, we'll make money and we can invest in the product, invest in the people, and have a very successful airline.

QUEST: Everybody says that you are going to bring a very different style of being a CEO. The Continental workforce is used to it. The United workforce is about to see a very different style of top management.

SMISEK: They will-they will but I think they will embrace it, because I think everybody understands that we are indeed in a service business. And they want a place where they enjoy coming to work every day, where they trust each other, where they are given the tools to do their jobs; where they trust management, where they have a vision for the future and they understand their place in it. And they understand that we go forward and we can create just a great airline here.

QUEST: Let's turn to the passengers, because they are the biggest stakeholders in many ways. When will passengers see the first tangible differences? I see spring 2011 is meant frequent flyers, towards the end, the middle to end of next year. So what will be the first difference we'll notice?

SMISEK: Well, the very first difference is today in the club, so worldwide, as of today, there is free wireless for all of our lounge members. And also there is free alcoholic beverages, I'm sure they'll enjoy that. So you will see incremental changes because we want to make things better for our customers as quickly as we can.

Spring in 2011, is what we call customer Day 1. That is when we'll get the systems together so we can handle each other's customers. But even today, even as of this moment, today, if a customer come up, a United customer, comes up to a Continental ticket counter we'll make sure that they are accommodated by sending them to the right ticket counter, the United ticker counter, we have mobile chariots so they don't have to go very far to get to a United agent.

QUEST: Keeping the international traveler on board, on message, and happy. We know, Jeff, that the international area is the biggest growth area, both in revenues, up 10 percent so far this year for premium traffic, internationally, what are you going to do to ensure that the other alliances, One World, and Sky Team (ph), don't steal your passengers?

SMISEK: Well, because this merger is going to deliver to us between 1 billion and a 1.2 billion annually in net synergies, we'll be able to take that money and invest in our people, and invest in our product, and keep ourselves competitive with lie-flats seats. For example, by the end of this year we are going to have over 100 aircraft with lie-flat seats, more than any other of our competitors. We are going to continue to invest in the product, whether it is AVOD, or wireless, or DirecTV, we are going to work hard to make sure that we have a great product for all of our passengers, with a lot of focus, of course, on the international long-haul traveler.

QUEST: The U.S. hubs, a lot of speculation about whether-I mean, after 10 global hubs, nine, or eight or nine are in the domestic U.S.; a lot of talk about whether it makes sense to have so many hubs.

SMISEK: Well, if you were starting an airline from scratch I think what you would have and the U.S. is the hubs we have. I mean, we have hubs on the East Coast, we've got hubs on the West Coast, we have hubs in the Midwest, we have hubs in the South. Both the East-West and North-South flows, flows into Latin America, off the West Coast to the Pacific, off the East Coast to trans-Atlantic, you know this is really a perfect structure for an airline.

QUEST: Jeff, finally, did you ever think-I mean, you've been in the airline industry, what, 15, 20 years. Did you ever think you would become chief exec of the world's largest airline?

SMISEK: Uh, it wasn't in my personal go-forward plan. But I am really pleased to be here and I will tell you I'm very, very proud to lead the new United.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: Extensive interview there with Jeff Smisek, who is now chief executive of the world's largest carrier, United.

Now, do you travel too much? What is the test if you travel too much? On my web Facebook page, I've posted an article about the indications of whether you travel-for instance, do you refer to cities by LAX? I'm going to LAX. Or I'm going to LHR. Well, if-take the test. Look, go to Facebook.com/CNNQuest. And see if you are one of those people that travels too much. It is a fascinating test.

Now, the question, are CEOs born, or made? Some high profile corporate leaders step up to take the charge. We listen to Heinz (ph) for tips on the boardroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Earlier this year, you and I were talking to each other on this program. We were on air when the flash crash took place and we both witnessed the Dow Jones falling by nearly 1,000 points in short order. It gave us all a nasty bit of heartburn and we wondered whether this was the end of the financial world as we know it.

Now the report into the flash crash from the SEC has come out. Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.

None of us want to live through that again, Alison. So what does the Securities and Exchange Commission say was the core problem, and how are they going to fix it?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, they are not saying anything that we already didn't really already know, but they are sort of confirming what a lot of people here at the New York Stock Exchange already thought. That automated trading, that was the culprit. And now we are getting some more details and they are basically blaming one large investor for contributing to that eye-popping plunge back on May 6, by using high frequency trading.

The sale of a large block of futures contracts is what triggered this flash crash. It basically, you know, triggered a series of other orders that the market just couldn't handle. The report says that the combined selling pressure from that order caused high-frequency traders to drive down the price of these futures that I was talking about. At the same time it drove the people who would buy into the market to actually sell their individual stocks.

Now you also have to factor in what was actually happening on this day. This, on May 6, it was a really volatile day on the market, turbulent day. With worries about the European debt crisis spilling around the globe, that is what really everybody was fretting about. I was actually here and watched traders here, at the New York Stock Exchange, and they were actually on the various monitors around the floor, watching those riots in Greece when those austerity measures were announced. They were watching these riots on the TV monitors. That was sort of escalating things as well. And of course then when that plunge happened, you know, the jaws dropped. They couldn't believe it. The hair stood up on their arms.

You know, what exacerbated this problem, as well, Richard, is that there are different rules at different exchanges, about these circuit breakers. That also added to the problem as well, Richard.

QUEST: But Alison, I'm going to interrupt you. The question, the core question, could it happen again?

KOSIK: I mean, sure, this was a really strange sort of confluence of events here. You know, that sort of all came together at the perfect time. You know it is like a perfect storm, but you know some measures have already been put into place to keep this from happening again. You know the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and the SEC put in new circuit breakers in place that are tripped when an individual stock moves 10 percent in either direction within five minutes.

You know, the goal also is to create a uniform set of rules, because the problem before this is that it was sort of based on which exchange this was traded on. So all these exchanges had different circuit breaker rules, and I'm telling you that is also what exacerbated the problem as well. So this is already helping things. We have already seen the circuit breakers tripped on a few times since May 6.

Also the SEC is looking into clamping down on high frequency trading even more, regulating it, and that could also help keep this from happening again. But you never know, I mean, there are always loop holes to these things. There is always something that could happen that could trigger this again, Richard.

QUEST: Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange with the flash crash of May, and hopefully won't be repeated.

All right. We continue our look at the range of chief executives. Over in the boardroom, you will see this chap now. You have probably seen him before, his name is Bob Dudley and he's just wrapped up his first day as chief exec of BP. He is probably still-well, no, he's probably still at the office now. BP, of course, battling with the shear amount of money that it is having to pay.

But BP isn't the only company welcoming new faces to the boardroom. There is not just only Bob Dudley. How about this gentleman, as well? Now, we've got Leo Apotheker is the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard. He takes over from Mark Hurd. He will take over on November the 1st. He was the chief executive of the software maker, the business software maker, SAP. Interesting appointment here, because it is a surprise appointment. He-the thought at HP was that they would go for an insider, but instead, of course, they went for this chap. Annual salary $1.5 million. And, ho-ho, nice work if you can get it, $4 million is a signing bonus and relocation expenses.

Bob Diamond takes over at the-at Barclays. Of course, chief executive begins on April 1, 2011. Head of the investment bank, controversial figure, again, because he has spoken out quite considerably about the various different ways-he's against the splitting of investment and commercial banks with retail banks. He believes that would be more destabilizing and not necessarily to the advantage of the market.

Now, if you are the top of the tree, well, you earn the big bucks. That is certainly the truth. But we do know that the buck stops with you. So what does it mean to be a chief exec and sit at the table? CEOs have commented on the things they wish they had known before signing on the dotted line. Isolation, the lack of a private life; well, back in July I spoke about this with the Heinz Chief Exec Bill Johnson. Here is a snippet. I asked him, are CEOs born or are they made?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL JOHNSON, CEO, H.J. HEINZ CO.: I believe it is a bit of both. I think you can teach leadership. I think Vince Lombardi, the great American football coach, once said leaders are made not born.

Having said that, I do think there is a certain amount of energy that is inherent in the being. I think there is a certain amount of curiosity and desire to learn more. I mean, one of the things that I have really enjoyed about my job is seeing different cultures, learning different ways of living around the globe. If you don't have that drive, if you don't want to have that curiosity you are not going to succeed no matter how talented you really are.

QUEST: Bill, this is a quote that I read from the book, "Never forget in this job you are only as good as your last quarter." That is a big like me saying tonight, I'm only as good as my last show.

But isn't that exactly the problem with leadership. If you are focused on the last quarter's EPS, you are not focused on the long-term strategic goal of company?

JOHNSON: I think there is a real value to understanding the quote and the context of it. I think, ultimately it comes down to establishing a creative tension between the short-term and the long-term, and reaching an appropriate balance, in terms of how you manage both. It is a very difficult thing to do. And frankly most of us who get to the top, are not prepared to deliver that balance, because that is not what we've done. Our focus has always been on delivering next week's results, or last months results, or whatever it may be. And as we get to the top there is an enormous balance required.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: The chief exec of Heinz. And we have got two more chief execs after the break. A big power play at the Paris Car Show. The main driver of the Renault Nissan Alliance tells us why he's all charged up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: We are the pioneers according to Renault and Nissan's chief executive. Carlos Ghosn says electric cars could rule the road. He told our own Jim Boulden at the Paris Car Show, his real challenge is making sure Nissan will be able to keep up with the expected demand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLOS GHOSN, CEO, NISSAN: What is very clear is that some customers are ready to go. And we estimate them, potentially, to 10 percent of the people who buy cars globally, every year.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: We'll want an electric vehicle?

GHOSN: Or ones who want electric cars. Because in fact we made surveys, very simple surveys, in the U.S. in Japan, and Europe, we asked a very simple question. You know, between the different technology available on the market, what is going to be your next car? And 10 percent of the people say electric. Not hybrid, electric. So we know that potentially, spontaneously 10 percent of the market would like electric. So now it is our duty to make sure that it is a convincing car.

BOULDEN: Now which comes first, though, the mass production, or the orders? And where do you fit in that dilemma?

GHOSN: Oh, we have already invested for mass production.

BOULDEN: Uh-huh?

GHOSN: I mean we are you know putting in place capacity for 500,000 batteries and cars a year, globally. In fact the orders, particularly in the U.S., they are very strong.

BOULDEN: Look at the Nissan leaf, you look at the batteries for that. China seems to be very interesting topic right now. Some worry that some of the transfer of technology to China through these battery deals. What is your view on that. No, I don't think that there is any worry, more worry, on the battery than other technology. There is always a good balance that you can find between your mother country, no matter what is the mother country, whether you are coming from Japan, from France, or from the United States, to China. And as you know, Chinese people are extremely realistic, and the partnership in the auto industry have now a very long, you know, we have a long experience of them. So, I'm not particularly worried about it.

BOULDEN: You don't care, or you don't worry about, keeping the technology for the batteries, specifically?

GHOSN: I'm going to tell you why, because I don't think this is a static technology. This is something which is in continual development in very fast development. So, anyway, the people who would like to put the price for it, can get this technology and then they are going to have to continue to work on it. This is something not static.

BOULDEN: I must ask you, it has come out in the last few months that you were actually asked to take over General Motors. Can you tell us a little bit about that and why you decided to say no when the government in the U.S. asked you?

GHOSN: This came through the book that Steve Rattner has written, which by the way, has been published. I think he has-

BOULDEN: The car czar?

GHOSN: Exactly. It has been straightforward, what he has written in the book about the main thing we have together is straightforward, and that is exactly what happened. I think, you know, I asked him if there was any possibility that GM would consider developing some synergies with their lines. He said he didn't consider it as a priority, he was not very convinced that this was the most important thing to do. At the same time he asked me the question if I would be accepting a job offer as CEO of General Motors and I declined it. I declined because, you know, I said I am in charge of two companies which are going through a very tough period in the now, so I cannot consider an offer like this.

BOULDEN: What excites you the most about electric vehicles right now? What do you think is going to happen here?

GHOSN: I think they are going to be a lot of excitement in the public. And I think we are going to be struggling to supply the market with as many cars as the demand will be. That is my bet.

BOULDEN: That is a heck of a big bet, though. That all the car companies are making. And Nissan and Renault are making a big bet.

GHOSN: We are the pioneers. We are the pioneers, we are advancing first. We are coming with many, many products. And if I have to take a position today I say that I don't think we are building capacity fast enough for what the market will be asking for.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: Carlos Ghosn, of Renault/Nissan, talking to Jim Boulden.

Electric cars may be one fast-growing area, if they grow anything like the GPS and the sat map industry, it will turn into something of a phenomenon. Nothing short of a revolution has taken place. The chief executive of the largest manufacturer of them in Europe, the TomTom, is Harold Goddijn. TomTom has introduced a new project, which it believes will improve the company's bottom line and the way we drive. The core of it is a traffic manifesto, which promises to cut times for individual journeys and individual travelers by 15 percent.

Now, this is the manifesto. The idea is that the TomTom knows the traffic conditions and tells you the quickest and best route accordingly, dynamically. The company's mission statement believes that the sat map (ph) says all drivers should eventually benefit because there will be quicker journeys and less stress.

That is the theory. How exactly will TomTom do this? Before Harold went to Paris he joined me so I could find out more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAROLD GODDIJN, CEO, TOMTOM: If drivers would be perfectly informed about the traffic conditions around them and if they would have the tools to react upon that and make informed decisions, then we will see a better use of a road network. Low balancing, it is called, in computer terms. So, the idea is that if the road is congested, you divert part of that traffic to another part of that traffic to another road. And that helps the individual, but also reduces traffic congestion overall.

QUEST: How on earth do you manage to get enough data, across the vast areas that your system can basically say, what is the best routes?

GODDIJN: That was a major challenge and it took us years to crack it. In a traditional way of collecting traffic information is through governments and, and-and they often involve hardware, loops, cameras. And that is expensive, expensive to build, expensive to maintain. And it doesn't give you the coverage that you need. So, our system is based on software. We are measuring how handsets are moving along the route. We are measuring how our own customers are driving along the road, we fuse all of that, put it in a big machine. And we extract traffic information from that. And that information we then distribute it in real-time.

QUEST: As opposed-there is a privacy question here isn't there? You now are tracking your users?

GODDIJN: Yes, and you are right. So we have to be very careful about that. And we have to be very careful that information is used on an anonymous basis. So it is not linked to a device, it is not linked to a customer. It is all automized (ph) at a very early stage of the process.

QUEST: So, can you categorically say that even authority, a police authority, or a law authority, or any authority, came up to you and said, we want to know was his car on that road, on that night?

GODDIJN: We cannot answer that question.

QUEST: What about the people who say, it is a nice marketing tool for you, but does it work?

GODDIJN: Yeah, it is-

QUEST: You called me a cynic, earlier?

GODDIJN: Well, it is, you know, we are a private enterprise so we are in it for profit. But what we are trying to do is create real valuable services for our customers. Helping them to navigate their way through traffic and reduce travel time. Reduce stress and uncertainty. That is a great thing. And we are very successful in doing that. And we are selling devices that our customers are generally speaking happy with that. I think the other affect that we are starting to understand better now, is that by doing that we are also playing on a larger scale, because of the low balancing element, we have an effect on the overall traffic conditions. And that is, of course, the affect for society as a whole. So by doing all of this, we really start to make an impact on the usage of the road network across Europe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: The chief executive, another chief executive-promised you a whole raft of them. We can't really think of what the best collective noun for chief execs is, but I'm sure you can join in on that one.

When we come back in just a moment, the world's youngest, richest billionaires -- he is one of them. And yet the new film about the face -- the founder of Facebook -- it is less than flattering, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

This is CNN. And here, on this network, the news always comes first.

And let me tell you, the Nigerian militant group MEND has claimed responsibility for the two deadly car bombings in Abuja. At least eight people have been killed. Twenty-one more were wounded.

The attacks happened at almost the same time, outside the justice ministry. Joint festivities marking 50 years of independence from Britain. A government spokesman says the capital was very calm after the attack.

Militants in Pakistan take out their anger on NATO's supply trucks. They blamed -- took -- set fire to two dozen trucks -- trucks and attacking another with automatic weapons. Pakistani police say two people were killed in the shooting incident.

In the meantime, Pakistan is still banning NATO convoys from using a main route into Afghanistan. Pakistan accuses NATO of killing three of its soldiers on Thursday.

A new videotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden has surfaced on militant Web sites. The 11 minute message avoids the usual anti-American rhetoric. Instead, it urges Muslims to tackle problems plaguing the Islamic world, specifically famine, food relief, climate change and water pollution. CNN can't verify the authenticity of the message.

Now, he's a geeky Harvard grad who admits to being awkward. But the film, "The Social Network," which opened today in the United States, portrays the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, as a ruthless egomaniac.

Which is it?

Felicia Taylor reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a sleepy, all American, picturesque town along the banks of the Hudson River. Dobbs Ferry is where Zuck, as he's known to his friends, grew up, in this modest white paneled house. The ground floor is where dad, Edward, has his dental practice. The local mailman, on this route for the past 12 years, remembers Zuck as a geek and signed up for the global online community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am on Facebook, but, actually, we're not friends on Facebook, so maybe I should friend request him.

TAYLOR: Access to Zuckerberg is anything but easy. Described as shy, even cocky, introverted and fiercely private, Jose Antonio Vargas, a writer for "The New Yorker," was able to penetrate that wall of silence and got to know the college dropout, who is defining social media.

JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, "THE NEW YORKER": I think that's key to understanding Mark Zuckerberg is -- is to put him in a generation. You know, he was in middle school when Google came out, right?

He could always Wikipedia things. He could always instant message anyone, right?

So he comes from that digital native generation. And in many ways, he really is not that much different from a lot of software engineers and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. He's not like some special case. It just so happens that he is running the hottest company in the Valley right now.

TAYLOR (on camera): Why do you think he picked you to spend so much time with?

ANTONIO: I'm not a nerd per se, but I've grown up in a generation in which nerds ruled the world. And so I think, in many ways, Hollywood has a very myopic and very simplistic idea of how nerds or how technocrats are. And so I guess this was my way, from a journalistic perspective, of kind of, you know, really hoping to unlock and really hoping to kind of tell, you know, his story.

TAYLOR: He's a very private person.

ANTONIO: Yes.

TAYLOR: He does not like being out in the -- on the stage...

ANTONIO: No, he does not.

TAYLOR: -- into the -- in the public eye. He likes -- he's, they say, shy, but they also paint this other picture of him, you know, when you've -- you've got some e-mail that he...

ANTONIO: Oh, yes.

TAYLOR: -- they sent in, you know, calling people dumb.

ANTONIO: When he was 19.

TAYLOR: Right. When he was 19. When it came to the issue of trust.

So is he manipulative?

Is he cocky?

ANTONIO: Yes.

TAYLOR: Is he shy?

What -- what is this man really about?

ANTONIO: The Mark Zuckerberg that I got to know, you know, in these interviews and -- and talking to his friends -- very protective friends -- is such a disconnect from the Mark Zuckerberg that is being portrayed in the movie. Now mind, you, those IMs, those -- those instant messages that were sent, calling, you know, hey, they trust me with information, dumb, hmmm, right -- I mean a very pointedly and openly asked him about that. And he was really embarrassed and said, you know, I -- I made a mistake. I really regret that. I'm not that guy anymore.

And, frankly, that's going to be on these people to decide whether that's still the case.

TAYLOR: I mean, people change.

ANTONIO: Yes. Most people...

TAYLOR: From 19 to 26 is a long time.

ANTONIO: Especially, that's a formative time. We're changing, right?

TAYLOR: Right.

ANTONIO: Yes, I think he has. And you know what I think is interesting is, I think at some point, maybe four or five years ago, at some point, I think he realized just how big this was going to get, this, right?

Because it's not about money. He's made that very clear.

TAYLOR: Why do you think he walked away from a billion dollars?

And it -- it's too easy to say that money doesn't matter.

ANTONIO: Yes, it is, because I think he knows that the company is going to be worth more than a billion dollars, for one thing, right?

And I think it's because, as he told Terry Samo (ph), you know, the former CEO of Yahoo! this is my baby. I'm not done yet. He's not.

TAYLOR: Choose some adjectives for me to describe him.

ANTONIO: Complex. Private, yes. Really indefatigable is definitely one. Patient. Patient. Persistent. And the guy has a lot of balls.

Can I say that on television?

Probably not, right?

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: Well, you can and you can't. You have done.

In a moment, women on the front line -- we'll tell you about a group of women fighting for pay parity in another film that may its debut today - - a very different film with a strong message.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Britain's new Equality Act came into force today. It aims to ban discrimination by employers over a range of areas, including the most obvious ones -- age, disability, pay. Some of its inspiration can be traced back to a group of women who are featured in a film that was also released today.

The film goes back to 1968. It's called "Made in Dagenham," which is where the Ford Motor Company and where many other big companies were based industrially. It's about women who battled for equal pay at the Ford car plant.

As Ayesha Durgahee reports, it's a good opportunity for us all to reflect on the progress, or lack thereof.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "MADE IN DAGENHAM," PARAMOUNT PICTURES)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This strike is about one thing and one thing only -- fairness. Everybody up!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They walked out and marched all the way to parliament to fight for equal pay -- 187 sewing machinists stopped making car seat covers that threatened to shut down the Ford assembly plant in Dagenham.

The result -- it helped lay the groundwork for the Equal Pay Act of 1970.

NIGEL COLE, DIRECTOR, "MADE IN DAGENHAM": I think the battle for equality between men and women is a vital and important thing. For many, it's been a long, long ride and finally we're getting around to it. And I think that it's -- it needs to be celebrated. And -- and we need to be constantly reminded that that war is still going on and there's still a long way to go.

DURGAHEE: Forty years later, the battle lines are still drawn. The British government says the pay gap last year stood at just over 12 percent, a slight improvement over the year before. However, according to one industry survey, female managers will have to wait more than 50 years to achieve pay parity at the current rate of progress.

RUTH SPELLMAN, CEO, CHARTERED MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE: Frankly, it's just not good enough. And I think that's the -- the whole message and purpose of this report, to say progress is being made, but not enough. We need UKPRC (ph), we need businesses in general to get this agenda. From our survey, 7.7 percent of women have quit during a recession. And one of the facts in their decision-making is the way they are rewarded.

DURGAHEE: In other words, the survey found women won't get equal pay until 2067.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 2067?

Oh, you're joking. It's ridiculous.

DURGAHEE: The workers' whose are told and made in Dagenham aren't surprised that pay parity has not yet come. They remember comments from the British prime minister during their push for equity.

GLENN DAVIS, FORD, 1962-1989: Harold Wilson (ph) said we weren't entitled to it, didn't he? When they went to parliament and...

SHEILA DOUGLASS, FORD, 1967-1990: Yes, but he couldn't afford it.

DAVIS: No, he said they couldn't afford to make women equal with men. I mean, what a poor excuse is that?

He said we're not ready for it yet. And that's true. You've just said what date they want to bring it in. No, go, he was not alone then.

DOUGLASS: He was unfair. He wasn't wrong.

DURGAHEE: But maybe he was. The U.K. government says it's taking more steps to close the gender pay gap with the new Equality Act. Among other things, from the first of October, companies cannot stop employees disclosing their salaries, which would make it easier for women to compare their salaries to men. The goal, they say, is to move faster to put men and women on an equal footings.

For the women who marched in the '60s and for the steps being taken today, hopefully, it won't take 50 years before women strive toward true pay parity.

Ayesha Durgahee, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: I have got three sisters and I'm not touching that one with a 10 foot pole.

October came in with a bang in Northwest Europe, with heavy rain and blustery weather.

Pedram is at the World Weather Center. Unfortunately, everything you're going to tell me about what I may experience meteorologically at home is going to be grim.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, unfortunately, I think I am. Yes, the weekend not going to start well, as October hasn't. And you've got to keep in mind, October typically for England -- for London, at least, is the wettest time of the year, statistically speaking. And take a look. You can't miss the storm system -- a very broad feature there at the center of circulation, the showers associated with it, pushing in toward eastern ports of the U.K. But you can see how western portions are beginning to dry up. Of course, the Ryder Cup was taking place. A storm came in. Seven hours of play was delayed out there and the windy conditions finally tapering off tonight. But we think some time tomorrow, rain going to pick back up and heavy at times, especially around London there. Some heavy rain in the forecast. And if you're traveling about, here you are. Take a look. Your forecast looks green for everyone. Some showers around Paris. Dublin, the same story, breezy conditions, as well. But the Celtic manner there. In Germany, you can take a look. The showers are tapering off behind this front, but again, the rains will begin pushing it farther east. At least the kids are having fun with this. You can see them jpg high and enjoying it out there in Newport. But again, seven hours of play was delayed. The folks had to get up and go many times. You know, they spent millions of dollars out there, across that part of the world trying to get the system out there to be able to finally drain some of the waters because they know it's stormy this time of year, they irrigation system and all. So the drainage. It certainly hasn't helped out so far because of all the rains they've seen. Richard

QUEST: Many thanks.

have a good weekend.

JAVAHERI: You, too, Richard.

QUEST: To yourself.

And this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

It has been a good week.

I thank you for joining us.

I'm Richard Quest in London.

Whatever you're up to in the hours and days ahead, I hope it's profitable.

Come back to me on Monday.

"MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST" is next.

END