Head of British business lobby sacked over misconduct

Head of British business lobby sacked over misconduct

Tony Danker stepped aside as head of Britain's main business lobby in March as a probe was launched into his workplace conduct
Tony Danker stepped aside as head of Britain's main business lobby in March as a probe was launched into his workplace conduct. Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP/File
Source: AFP

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Britain's main business lobby group announced Tuesday the sacking of Director General Tony Danker following sexual misconduct allegations that have shaken the Confederation of British Industry.

The CBI suspended three other employees and apologised to victims as it expressed "revulsion" over their stories and admitted "serious failings" in its handling of the matter.

The organisation said Danker "is dismissed with immediate effect following the independent investigation into specific complaints of workplace misconduct against him".

The CBI announced that Rain Newton-Smith, former chief economist at the group, had agreed to rejoin as its new director general just one month after starting a strategist role at Barclays bank.

Danker had stepped aside from his role in early March, allowing the probe by a law firm to occur.

The CBI describes itself as an organisation representing 190,000 businesses, employing almost seven million people.

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Tuesday's statement added that "three other CBI employees are now suspended pending further investigation into a number of ongoing allegations".

The CBI described the recent allegations as "devastating", while noting "there have been serious failings in how we have acted as an organisation".

It also apologised "to the victims...., including those impacted by the revulsion we have all felt at hearing their stories.

"Nobody should feel unsafe in their workplace," it added.

Britain's Guardian newspaper had reported 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 revelations have caused member companies and the UK government to distance themselves from the lobby group.

'Rebuild trust'

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"I want the CBI to be an organisation of which we can all be proud," said Newton-Smith.

"I am grateful and determined to lead the team through this challenging time."

Newton-Smith has a "deep knowledge of the challenges facing businesses who are trying to grow in these challenging economic times", said CBI president Brian McBride.

UK businesses are battling against rising interest rates and elevated costs as the country's annual inflation rate remains above ten percent, or close to a a four-decade high.

The CBI added that board member Jill Ader will "oversee a root-and-branch review" of the organisation's culture, governance and processes.

It plans also to create a chief people officer position, who will oversee matters of workplace conduct and culture.

"We know it will take time for these steps to make a difference and rebuild trust," the organisation said.

"We will now work tirelessly to ensure that under new leadership and with a commitment to build a modern, inclusive culture, the CBI can and will resume its vital work of supporting British business."

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Danker became group head in late 2020, helping to steer businesses of various sizes and across different sectors through Covid lockdowns.

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Source: AFP

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