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Gloucestershire Business News

Companies 'deserting the CBI in droves'

As the CBI fights for survival amid allegations of sexual misconduct, the business lobby group has appointed a new director general.

Rain Newton-Smith is starting her new role today (Wednesday) following the departure of Tony Danker, in a return to the CBI where she was previously chief economist.

Since more allegations have emerged about the CBI, dozens of firms have either ended their membership or suspended any activity with the organisation.

Companies who have suspended their membership include John Lewis, BMW, Virgin Media O2, insurers Aviva, Zurich and Phoenix Group, banking firm Natwest, credit card company Mastercard; B&Q owner Kingfisher, media firm ITV, accountancy giant Deloitte and FTSE 100 software group Sage.

Earlier this month the government said it had suspended activity with the CBI and this week Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: "There's no point engaging with the CBI when their own members have deserted them in droves."

The CBI has admitted it failed to fire staff who had sexually harassed female workers.

CBI president Brian McBride has pledged to implement recommendations following an investigation by a law firm.

The CBI has been facing a crisis since the Guardian published claims of workplace misconduct, harassment and sexual assault including two allegations of rape.

The CBI claims to represent 190,000 companies, which it said employ around seven million people.

One of its key roles is to lobby the government on behalf of its members.

In an open letter to all members by Brian McBride, president of the CBI, he said: "I wanted to talk to each of you directly and openly about the crisis that has engulfed the CBI. About how this organisation, for almost 60 years an active and proud champion of British industry, let down its own people, and deservedly lost your trust in consequence. And about what steps we are taking to give you reason to consider trusting us again. Whether that is possible, I simply don't know."

Mr McBride added: "The CBI and each of you, our members, have together, for decades, been one of the most effective industrial representation bodies in the world. I believe that it is enormously beneficial, both to business and to the government, to have available the services that the CBI has provided in the past. I hope that we can effectively serve alongside you once more in future, albeit as a changed, and much improved CBI."

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