By: Chandrashekar Bhat
BRITAIN’S business lobby CBI lurched into deeper crisis on Thursday (6), as member companies and the government distanced themselves following more allegations of sexual misconduct by senior staff.
The Guardian newspaper had reported on Monday (3) that “more than a dozen” women claim to be victims of sexual misconduct by “senior figures” at the CBI, including one woman who alleged she was raped at a staff party.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the country’s biggest employers’ organisation, this week widened an ongoing investigation being handled by an external law firm to include the latest claims.
The chief executive of brewing giant Adnams, Andy Wood, told the BBC that his company had held talks about whether to leave the CBI but would await the outcome of the probe.
“Reputations take decades to build and moments to destroy, and the CBI need to get on with this and sort it out quickly, and restore our trust and confidence in the organisation,” Wood said Thursday.
“If there is any scintilla of truth in this, I think I can speak for all members that such behaviour is completely unacceptable and there is no place for it in the workplace,” he added.
The UK government has paused all engagement by ministers and senior officials with the CBI, citing the “serious allegations”, a source confirmed Thursday.
The organisation has meanwhile decided to cancel all external events, including next month’s annual gala dinner which traditionally features prominent business chiefs and political leaders.
“The CBI has treated and continues to treat all matters of workplace conduct with the utmost seriousness, which is why last month, we commissioned a thorough investigation by an independent law firm into all recent allegations that have been put to us,” a CBI spokesperson said.
“It would undermine this important process and be damaging and prejudicial to all the individuals involved to comment on these allegations at this point.
“We will not hesitate to take any necessary action when the investigation concludes.”
The CBI’s board “expects to have preliminary findings and actions from the first phase of the investigation” soon after the Easter break, the spokesperson added.
This week’s revelations came less than a month after the lobby group announced that director-general Tony Danker would step aside to allow claims of workplace misconduct to be probed.
It is understood that the latest allegations are not related to Danker.