CBI to be renamed in bid to rebuild after sexual misconduct scandal, new boss says
The new boss of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said that the scandal-hit business lobby group would likely be renamed as the organisation looks to rebuild after a sexual misconduct scandal.
In the last week, there has been a mass exodus of businesses from the CBI, including prominent groups such as John Lewis, Aviva, ITV, Mastercard and Natwest, after two women who worked at the CBI made rape allegations, which have since been passed to the police.
“Personally, over time, I’m sure we’re going to see a new name for the CBI, but that’s just the wrapper that goes on the outside. What matters is what we do, what we deliver and our purpose,” Rain Newton-Smith told the Financial Times.
“The CBI that emerges from this is not going to be the CBI of the past, that is clear. It needs to be a new, a different organisation,” the new chief explained.
She also revealed that the CBI could become smaller in the future.
For now, the CBI has suspended all policy and membership activities until early June.
“I am not for a moment saying that the rebuild of our culture and our organisation is going to be complete by early June,” she said.
“People are hurting in this organisation,” she said, “and they also need time to heal. My plea to businesses is these things take time.”
There has also been speculation, however, that the CBI will be unable to recover from this blow. Earlier this week, City boss Helena Morrissey said the CBI was “finished”.
In a separate interview with the BBC today, Newton-Smith denied there was a toxic culture at the CBI, saying “that’s not how it felt when I was here”, but did admit to reporting sexual misconduct herself.
“Whenever I have seen sexual harassment, I have acted and I raised those issues,” she said.
The word “toxic” was in fact used by the group itself on Monday when it admitted to having hired “culturally toxic” staff and having then failed to fire employees who were guilty of sexual harassment.
“Like everyone else, I have read the stories of the survivors of rape in the papers from the outside, and I know that something has gone badly wrong,” she said.
“When I did see things, I acted on them and I supported staff who needed to raise them, and I think that’s critically, absolutely critically important,” she added.
“I wouldn’t be coming back into this job if I thought there were things that I had done or hadn’t done or hadn’t acted thoroughly on it. So that’s what’s really important to me.”