CBI boss ‘very confident’ trade group can recover after misconduct allegations

Rain Newton-Smith faced scrutiny from MPs at the Business and Trade Committee a week after the CBI won a key confidence vote by members.

The head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has told MPs she is confident the business group can recover from its recent crisis, after a series of misconduct allegations were made by women at the organisation.

Director general of the group, Rain Newton-Smith, faced scrutiny from MPs at the Business and Trade Committee, a week after it won a key confidence vote by members over its future.

The CBI – which claims to represent around 190,000 businesses – was cast into turmoil in March after allegations of misconduct relating to its then-director general.

Since then, more than a dozen women have come forward with allegations that they were sexually harassed while working for the CBI, two of whom said they were raped.

Ms Newton-Smith confirmed that some member businesses left the organisation as a result, with firms such as the John Lewis Partnership and BT publicly ending their membership in April.

However, she would not specify how many cut ties with the business group, despite facing pressure from MPs to disclose the figure.

The director general was told that it makes it “very difficult to ascertain whether or not you still have the confidence of the industry as a whole”, during the committee meeting.

She said: “We have lost some members through this crisis, and I am not going to give a total number of members we have lost.

“The vast majority of members have stayed with us.”

Ms Newton-Smith said the CBI has 1,200 direct members, which represents some 2.5 million private sector employees.

Last week, the CBI said it secured backing from 93% of the 371 votes cast for its plans, intended to help it regain its position as a lobbying powerhouse – indicating that fewer than a third of members took part in the vote.

On Tuesday, Ms Newton-Smith added that the group sees an opportunity for renewal and hopes to soon attract new members.

“We are very confident we can recover from the crisis our organisation has gone through,” she told MPs.

“We really have an intensive programme of work and we are determined to deliver on that and I hope we attract new members to the CBI.

“This is a moment of change for us as an organisation, it’s a moment of renewal.

“Yes, we’ve lost members but we will of course be determined to bring them back, but also hope we bring in new members and emerge as a different organisation.”

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.