The Confederation of British Industry has announced it will suspend operations until June after revelations from The Guardian about alleged sexual misconduct by male employees in the lobbying group prompted an exodus from companies including John Lewis and NatWest.
The CBI board said it would suspend all political and membership activities until a special meeting in June, when members will vote on its future and purpose.
The Guardian has published a series of accounts from more than a dozen women who claimed to have been victims of sexual misconduct by men in the CBI, including two women who said they were raped by colleagues.
Following the latest revelations on Friday, in which a woman said she was raped by two male colleagues who worked with her at a CBI overseas office, more than 50 of Britain’s biggest companies resigned or suspended their commitment to the group.
The CBI, which claimed to represent 190,000 companies before the exodus, was founded by royal charter in 1965. Its effective suspension means an uncertain future for its workforce of more than 300 employees.
The board said in a statement that “a lot has to change” to win back business confidence.
It read: “The CBI shares the shock and revulsion at the events that have taken place in our organization, and at the past failures that allowed these events to happen. We are deeply sorry and express our deep sorrow to the women who have suffered these horrific experiences.
“We have listened carefully to what our colleagues, members and stakeholders have said over the past few days and weeks. We have heard loud and clear a far-reaching demand for change.”
He plans to spend the next two months before the meeting talking to staff, companies, experts and others about his future role.
“This work and cultural reform will be the entire and urgent focus of the organization for the next few weeks,” he said.
Soon more details…