Members of scandal hit-CBI begin confidence vote on lobby group’s future

Business

CBI members are to begin voting today on the future of the business lobby group, following a series of scandals.

The organisation was plunged into disarray after claims of serious sexual assault were made by CBI employees against colleagues.

Today it will launch what it describes as an “ambitious ‘programme of change'”, with adjustments to its governance, culture, people processes, and refinement of its core purpose.

More than 1,000 business leaders were asked for their thoughts on the organisation’s future in surveys, focus groups, and listening sessions across the UK.

The results of the confidence vote will be revealed at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 6 June.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director general, said “radical and rapid changes” were being made, with the organisation “well on the road to recovery”.

She added: “Our society faces serious challenges from a cost of living crisis to climate change, with an urgent need to create truly sustainable growth across regions and nations of the UK, as well as on the global stage.

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“We need a strong voice of business, backed by a depth of economic analysis and insights from across the whole economy and entire country.

Rain Newton-Smith
Image:
Rain Newton-Smith

“A renewed CBI can once again have a voice on the serious economic challenges the UK faces, with a general election approaching at pace.

“The CBI has a unique role.

“We will work in collaboration and partnership with our members on these shared challenges, which is why this programme of change is so important. There is not a moment to lose.”

Sky News revealed earlier this month that the CBI had drafted in Principia, a business ethics consultancy, to aid a review of its culture.

This week, Sky’s City editor Mark Kleinman reported that the CBI’s board had drafted in lawyers to prepare for a prospective insolvency filing.

In April, the UK’s biggest business group suspended most of its activities pending the outcome of a review by law firm Fox Williams – Ms Newton-Smith said on Wednesday that the recommendations from this review have all been “either completed or (are) in progress”.

But some members decided the damage was already done, and suspended or ended their membership. Among those companies to quit were the Association of British Insurers, BMW Group, Aviva, and the British Beer & Pub Association.

It was all sparked by allegations made by at least a dozen female CBI employees against some of their male colleagues, which included claims of rape, stalking and harassment.

A number of the allegations are being investigated by the City of London Police.

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