CBI hires business ethics consultancy to spearhead survival bid


The crisis-hit CBI has drafted in a business ethics consultancy to aid a review of its culture four weeks before a meeting of its membership that will determine its future.

Sky News can reveal that Rain Newton-Smith, the new CBI director-general, has signed off the appointment of Principia following an exodus of corporate backers two weeks ago.

Britain’s biggest business lobby group is facing an existential crisis over its handling of allegations of rape and other sexual misconduct.

It has suspended most of its activities pending the outcome of a root-and-branch review, with many long-time supporters, including Aviva and John Lewis Partnership, having deserted it.

Last month, it sacked its director-general, Tony Danker, after an inquiry into his behaviour, although he subsequently accused the CBI of “throwing me under a bus”.

In a memo sent to members on Friday morning, Ms Newton-Smith said an EGM to decide on a way forward for the CBI would take place on 6June.

“We’ve now appointed Principia Advisory after reviewing a number of submissions last week,” she wrote.

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“They are experts in building ethical organisations, and will work with us to identify the root causes of past failure, and recommend the changes required for cultural renewal and rebuilding trust.

“They will provide us with the independent, rigorous analysis, and the deep expertise in conduct and culture we need.”

Ms Newton-Smith said the CBI needed “concrete actions and transparency about what we’re doing, so that everyone feels empowered to share their stories and knows they will be supported”.

She added that its staff were “already doing what they do best, coming together with brilliant ideas and dedication”.

“But members need to be at the heart of this work too,” she wrote.

“Without a mandate from you, we have no future.”

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“With a General Election looming, the voice of business urgently needs to be heard.

“And we are continuing to provide you with economic insights to make better decisions in these challenging economic times.

“I just hope that, working together, we can rebuild our culture, redefine our purpose and regain your trust so that we can help make that happen.”

A CBI spokesperson confirmed the contents of Ms Newton-Smith’s memo.

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