The largest company in the UK, CBI has acknowledged that it hired individuals who were “culturally toxic” and that it failed to fire employees who harassed other women at work.
When nothing was done, the CBI claimed that a “tiny minority” of employees believed they could harass or assault women and get away with it.
The troubled lobbying organization said that it has now let go of many employees.
In response to a report detailing claims of impropriety, including rape, from an independent law firm, the CBI took action.
In an emotional letter to its members, the business pressure group, which speaks for 190,000 companies, admitted to some mistakes and said they had “led to terrible results.”
It said everyone at the CBI felt “shame” because they had “let down the people who came to work there so badly.”
“Our collective failure to fully protect vulnerable employees and to put in place proper ways to quickly report incidents of this kind to senior leadership,” CBI president Brian McBride said in the letter, “is the main source of shame.”
At the beginning of April, several allegations of wrongdoing and abuse against CBI staff came to light. One of the allegations was that a CBI employee had raped someone at the lobby group’s summer party in 2019.
On Friday, a second claim of rape while working at a foreign CBI office came to light.
The cops are looking into both claims of rape.
In a letter to its members, the CBI said the following in response to suggestions from Law Fox Williams, who was hired to lead an independent review into the lobby group:
It “tried to find solutions to sexual harassment cases when we should have fired the harassers.” Because harassers weren’t fired, women were less likely to file written complaints.
This made it easier for a “small minority of staff with backward and, in some cases, abhorrent attitudes toward their female colleagues to act with more confidence and less fear of being caught.”
It didn’t weed out people who were terrible for the culture during the hiring process.
Some managers were given promotions too quickly, “without the necessary training to protect our cultural values and to know what to do when they were broken.”
“focused more on competence than on behavior.”
How CBI failed to get members up to speed
The CBI’s future is still being determined, so it stopped doing business until June while trying to change how it works.
There has been a significant exodus of CBI members, including John Lewis, BMW, Virgin Media O2, insurers Aviva, Zurich, Phoenix Group, Natwest, credit card company Mastercard, B&Q owner Kingfisher, and media company ITV.
The government had already chosen to stop working with the lobby group, but Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said on Monday that there was “no point” in working with the CBI since its members had left.
“We’d like to work with a group that talks about business. When making decisions, it’s essential to me to have someone I can talk to who speaks for the British company.
Mr. McBride said he wanted to give members enough reasons to consider giving the pressure group another chance.
But he said, “I don’t know if that’s possible.”
Businesses pulling out
John Lewis was one of the major companies that left the marketing group that says it speaks for 190,000 businesses on Friday.
John Lewis said it had chosen to leave the CBI “due to the further grave and ongoing allegations.”
BMW, Vodafone, Virgin Media O2, the insurance companies Aviva, Zurich, Phoenix Group, the bank Natwest, and Visa have also left. Mastercard, Kingfisher, the company that owns B&Q, ITV, Lloyds of London, Schroders, a financial company, and EY, an auditing business.
The Association of British Insurers and Energy UK represents energy companies and has also left.
Read Also: CBI loses makor businessed after rape allegations
Pharmaceutical giants GSK and AstraZeneca, airport operator Heathrow, retailers Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Marks & Spencer, banking group Santander, energy companies National Grid, Scottish Power, and Octopus Energy, drinks giant Diageo, Rolls Royce, Unilever, BT, property company British Land, accounting giant PwC, Manpower Group, British Beer and Pub Association, and oil companies Shell and BP are no longer members.
The business group had already been told the government would stop working with them.
The British Insurance Brokers Association said it was leaving the group “because of recent reports.”
The CBI, which employs more than 300 people, has been in a crisis since allegations of rape at one of its summer parties in 2019 and other sexual misconduct at the organization came out earlier this month.
The law firm Fox Williams has put three workers on hold while they look into what happened.
Reference: CBI apologises for recruiting ‘toxic’ staff.
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