• Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Business

CBI boss apologises for mishandling sexual harassment allegations

Rain Newton-Smith acknowledged that the situation had ‘appalled and distressed’ everyone, and the scandal had resulted in the departure of several prominent companies from the organisation

CBI director general Rain Newton-Smith (Photo: cbi.org)

By: Pramod Thomas

The new head of the largest business advocacy group in Britain on Wednesday (26) expressed regret to women whose allegations of sexual harassment were disregarded and promised to rebuild their confidence and backing.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has been embroiled in a controversy surrounding these allegations, which were initially reported by The Guardian newspaper.

Rain Newton-Smith acknowledged that the situation had ‘appalled and distressed’ everyone, and the scandal had resulted in the departure of several prominent companies from the organisation.

“I want to recognise the courage of the women who came forward and say how profoundly sorry I am for how our organisation let you down,” she said.

“I hope to reward your bravery by finding a better path forward.”

More than a dozen women claimed they had been sexually harassed at the CBI and two others alleged they had been raped.

Newton-Smith faces an uphill task as director-general to overhaul the CBI, where she was previously a managing director and chief economist before joining Barclays.

“We know there is so much to do to win back the trust of our members, our colleagues and wider society,” she added.

“But I believe in the work of the CBI and our people, and I am determined to rebuild and reimagine our organisation to regain that trust.”

The CBI on Monday (24) said it had sacked a number of “culturally toxic people” from the organisation.

Its president Brian McBride also apologised for failing to “act properly” by trying to resolve sexual harassment cases internally.

“This… was our most grievous error, which led to a reluctance amongst women to formalise complaints,” he said.

“It allowed a very small minority of staff with regressive — and, in some cases, abhorrent — attitudes towards their female colleagues to feel more assured in their behaviour, and more confident of not being detected.”

Newton-Smith took over from Tony Danker, who was let go for a separate misconduct allegation and has hit out at his sacking, claiming he had been made a “fall guy” for the wider crisis.

The CBI under Newton-Smith has promised reforms, which will be discussed at a meeting of the body’s membership in June.

(AFP)

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