CBI boss Tony Danker is sacked after probe into claims of harassment against female member of staff and three employees are suspended as lobby group faces sexual misconduct allegations from more than a dozen women
- Group’s future is now hanging in the balance after a wave of damaging claims
CBI boss Tony Danker was sacked today after an investigation into claims he harassed a female member of staff – as three employees were suspended amid sexual misconduct allegations from more than a dozen women.
The board of Britain’s top business lobbying group, which claims to represent 190,000 companies across the UK, said that the married father of two’s conduct ‘fell short’ of what was expected of him.
The group admitted ‘serious failings’ in how it acted as an organisation and promised to do better. It said Mr Danker will now be replaced by Rain Newton-Smith, its former chief economist and a former Barclays director.
Today, the Confederation of British Industry also revealed three other employees had been suspended pending further investigation into several ongoing allegations. It added that it was liaising with police and would ‘cooperate’ with any investigations.
Mr Danker had faced allegations from a female employee that he made ‘unwanted contact with her and considered this unwanted conduct to be sexual harassment’
Last week, the Guardian said that it had been approached by more than a dozen women who claimed to be victims of various forms of sexual misconduct, including one who said she was raped at a staff party.
The trade body has been rocked by allegations of a toxic workplace culture since Mr Danker was last month accused of allegedly making unwanted contact with a woman who works for the CBI.
According to reports, Mr Danker sent a female employee a barrage of messages, some featuring sexually suggestive language, over more than a year. She considered the contact to be sexual harassment, it was reported at the time.
The group launched an investigation into his behaviour and he agreed to step down in the meantime. The first part of this investigation by an outside law firm has been completed, the CBI said.
‘Tony Danker is dismissed with immediate effect following the independent investigation into specific complaints of workplace misconduct against him,’ it said.
‘The board wishes to make clear he is not the subject of any of the more recent allegations in The Guardian but has determined that his own conduct fell short of that expected of the director-general.’
The board appointed Mr Newton-Smith to take the top job from Mr Danker. She left the organisation just last month to join Barclays.
The CBI is an influential organisation that claims to represent 190,000 companies across the UK. Pictured is Mr Danker with Rishi Sunak in May last year, before allegations against him emerged
The CBI said: ‘The allegations that have been made over recent weeks about the CBI have been devastating.
‘While investigations continue into a number of these, it is already clear to all of us that there have been serious failings in how we have acted as an organisation. We must do better, and we must be better.
‘We apologise to the victims of this organisational failure, including those impacted by the revulsion we have all felt at hearing their stories.
‘Nobody should feel unsafe in their workplace.’
The CBI said that the outside law firm would continue its investigation and the business group would cooperate fully if the police launch any investigations.
The group will also launch a root-and-branch review of its culture, governance and processes, and create a new position of chief people officer.
‘We wish to thank all those who have had the courage to speak out, through internal or external channels, and encourage them to keep doing so,’ it added.
Following her appointment, Ms Newton-Smith said: ‘It’s a huge privilege to be asked to return to the CBI to serve as its director-general.
‘I passionately believe in the power of business to transform our society. I want the CBI to be an organisation of which we can all be proud.
‘I am grateful and determined to lead the team through this challenging time.
‘I look forward to working with the team, our members and stakeholders as we work together to achieve sustainable growth.’
Mr Danker will now be replaced by Rain Newton-Smith, its former chief economist and a former Barclays director