CBI – Confederation of British Industry
Formation1965; 59 years ago (1965)
Legal statusNon-profit organisation created by royal charter
PurposeBritish industry
Region served
United Kingdom
Rupert Soames
Rain Newton-Smith
Main organ
CBI Council

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is a British business interest group, which says it represents 190,000 businesses.[1] The CBI has been described by the Financial Times as "Britain's biggest business lobby group".[2] Incorporated by royal charter,[3] its mission is to promote the conditions in which businesses of all sizes and sectors in the UK can compete and prosper for the benefit of all. In 2023, the association was shaken by numerous accusations of sexual misconduct in the organisation.


The CBI's membership includes companies from the FTSE 100, mid-caps, SMEs, privately owned businesses, trade associations, universities and other public bodies. The CBI has members in many sectors: agriculture, automotive, aerospace, construction, creative, education, financial services, IT, manufacturing, professional services, retail, transport, tourism and utilities.[4]

The CBI is made up of around 1,500 direct members and 188,500 non-members. The non-members are represented through 140 trade associations within the confederation, for whose memberships the CBI also asserts representation, but which are not involved in the CBI's policy formulation. The National Farmers' Union, with 55,000 members, is the largest component of the 188,500 non-members the CBI says it represents. The Country Land and Business Association brings another 30,000 non-members, the Freight Transport Association 13,000, the Federation of Master Builders 9,500, the Road Haulage Association 8,100 and the National Federation of Builders 1,400.


The CBI works to promote business interests by lobbying and advising governments, networking with other businesses and creating intelligence through analysis of government policies and compilation of statistics, both in the United Kingdom and internationally through their offices in Beijing, Brussels, New Delhi and Washington, D.C.[5]

The organisation is non-partisan and has sought legal advice to ensure neutrality.[6]


The most recent Director-General was Tony Danker, who assumed the role on 30 November 2020, but had to step aside after misconduct allegations in March 2023, with Matthew Fell being appointed on an interim basis.[7] Danker’s dismissal was announced on 11 April 2023. His successor is Rain Newton-Smith, previously chief economist at the CBI.[8]

The CBI is governed by its royal charter and by the CBI Council, which is able to delegate many of its roles to the Chairs' Committee and Board. Final policy positions are mandated by the CBI Chairs' Committee, which has a seat for all of the chairs of its regional and national councils and subject-based policy standing committees, SME Council and Trade Association Council. The Chairs' Committee meets following each Standing Committee and Regional Council round.[9]

The CBI's strategic and financial decisions are decided on by the CBI Board, which is chaired by the CBI President and includes the support and guidance of 4 other non-executives. Day-to-day management of the CBI is in the hands of the Director-General supported by a Management Board, made up of a number of CBI directors.[9]

A President's Committee, made up of members, advises the president. The president, with the approval of the Chairs' Committee (under its delegated powers), appoints the director-general, who is responsible for the management of the CBI.[3]

It has offices based in every region of the UK, including teams in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, along with offices in Washington D.C, New Delhi, Beijing and Brussels.[10]

In September 2023, the CBI confirmed it was holding talks with Make UK about working together that could include a possible merger.[11]


The organisation was formed in 1965 out of a merger of the Federation of British Industries (known as FBI), the British Employers' Confederation and the National Association of British Manufacturers.

The CBI opened an office in Brussels in 1971, to open up opportunities in Europe. Other international offices have opened in Washington (2002), Beijing (2005) and New Delhi (2011).

In March 2014 it moved its headquarters from Centre Point, London, to offices in Cannon Place, located above Cannon Street railway station in the City of London.[12]

Sexual misconduct scandal

In March 2023, The Guardian reported on a sexual harassment complaint made against CBI director-general Tony Danker with additional allegations by other staff members. The CBI started an independent investigation, and Danker was replaced as head of the CBI by Matthew Fell, the organisation's UK policy director, on an interim basis.[13][14] In January 2024 it was announced that the CBI had settled on undisclosed terms an action for wrongful dismissal brought against it by Danker.[15]

On 3 April 2023, The Guardian published a report with more than a dozen current and recent women employees of CBI alleging to have been victims of sexual misconduct, including one rape, independent of the previously reported Danker allegations.[16] CBI expanded its investigation to include the new allegations and cancelled all future events, including its annual dinner.[7]

On 11 April 2023, the business group appointed its former Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith as its new Director General, one month after she had left the CBI to join Barclays.[17][18]

On 21 April 2023, the Guardian reported that a second woman has said she was raped by CBI colleagues.[19] On the same day, a number of major UK companies terminated their memberships with the CBI including Arup, Aviva, Phoenix Group, John Lewis, Mastercard, Virgin Media O2, Zurich Insurance Group, Ernst & Young, NatWest, WPP plc, and BMW.[20][21][22][23] Other major members of the CBI, including Barclays, HSBC, TSB, Lloyds Banking Group, Asda, Meta, Uber, PwC and many more announced they were pausing activities with the CBI pending the outcome of the investigation.[24] The CBI has appointed law firm Fox Williams to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations.[25] The group has suspended three employees pending the outcome of an investigation by Fox Williams.[26]

In May 2023, the CBI announced that it had appointed Principia Advisory to assist it to "identify the root causes of past failure, and recommend the changes required for cultural renewal and rebuilding trust".[27] The CBI conducted a poll asking its members the question: "Do the changes we have made − and the commitments we have set out − to reform our governance, culture, and purpose give you the confidence you need to support the CBI?" The result, announced on 6 June 2023, was that 93% of its members voted in favour of continuing to support the organisation;[28] however it later became known that turnout was only 28%, so fewer than a third of members voted in support.[29]

In September 2023, it was reported that the CBI was seeking around £3 million from its members within days of its Annual General Meeting in order to avoid 'financial oblivion'.[30] On 20 September the organisation's AGM was meant to be held. It was announced the day prior that this would be postponed until further notice.[31]

In September 2023, it was reported that the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, had agreed to hold face-to-face talks with Rain Newton Smith ahead of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, set to be held in November. This news came five months after the Chancellor had claimed there was 'no point' in engaging with the CBI following its recent scandals.[32]

In March 2024, The Guardian reported that the CBI had used gagging clauses (non-disclosure agreements, NDAs) to prevent staff from discussing their sexual misconduct and bullying experiences at the organisation. The NDAs were accompanied by substantial financial settlements, with the total bill approaching £1m.[33] The exodus of fee-paying members had made CBI's financial situation precarious, forced it to lay off one-third of its 300 staff in a year.[33]

Rupert Soames took up the position as the CBI's new President in early 2024.[34][35]


The CBI conducts numerous surveys that are of particular use to its members and stakeholders. Research is available to the relevant sections of its membership. The CBI's surveys are currently:[36]

Occasional surveys include:

CBI policy is decided through consultation with its members – companies from all sectors and sizes of business across the UK are directly involved in the policy-making process. The CBI publishes numerous reports each year on a wide range of issues that of interest and relevance to its members. Recent campaigns include "Future Champions",[37] promoting the contribution and role of mid-sized businesses, "Industrial Futures",[38] looking at how government should intervene in the economy to promote growth, and a report on the need to strengthen UK supply chains published in 2014.[39]

The CBI publishes ‘Business Voice’,[40] a monthly magazine for its membership and ‘Intelligence FIRST’,[41] an occasional publication providing strategic guidance for members on regulatory and economic change.

The Great Business Debate

In September 2014, the CBI started The Great Business Debate campaign aimed at increasing public confidence in business. Survey data found that only around 50% of people in the UK think that business contributes positively to society and the campaign was initiated to play a part in increasing that figure. A website and social media channels have been set up to openly promote the contribution business makes whilst enabling people and organisations to give their opinions on this. It is planned that various events and other occurrences will take place across the UK as part of the campaign.[42]


Senior personnel

List of former directors-general

  1. John Davies (30 July 1965 – 15 October 1969)
  2. Sir Campbell Adamson (15 October 1969 – 2 July 1976)
  3. Sir John Methven (2 July 1976 – 23 April 1980) (died in office)
  4. Sir Terence Beckett (1 October 1980 – 26 March 1987)
  5. Sir John Banham (26 March 1987 – 26 June 1992)
  6. Sir Howard Davies, (29 June 1992 – 31 December 1995)
  7. Adair Turner (1 January 1995 – 31 December 2000)
  8. Sir Digby Jones (1 January 2001 – 30 June 2006)
  9. Sir Richard Lambert (1 July 2006 – 30 January 2011)
  10. John Cridland (31 January 2011 – October 2015)
  11. Dame Carolyn Fairbairn (01 November 2015 – 6 December 2020)
  12. Tony Danker (30 November 2020 - 11 April 2023)

See also


  1. ^ Owen, Jonathan (9 November 2014). "CBI says wage rises are on the way at last". The Independent. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  2. ^ Groom, Brian; Parker, George (16 July 2014). "CBI warns politicians not to rock the boat". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b "CBI – CBI governance". Archived from the original on 2014-04-27. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  4. ^ "CBI – About the CBI". Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  5. ^ "CBI – CBI around the world". Retrieved 2007-06-30.
  6. ^ Pickard, Jim (25 January 2015). "Business fears falling foul of UK lobbying rules before election". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  7. ^ a b "CBI cancels events as pressure mounts over workplace misconduct". Financial Times. 4 April 2023. Retrieved 5 April 2023.
  8. ^ Isaac, Anna; Partridge, Joanna (11 April 2023). "CBI dismisses director general Tony Danker after conduct complaints". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 11 April 2023.
  9. ^ a b "How we work – CBI". Archived from the original on 2016-02-18. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  10. ^ "CBI International - CBI". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  11. ^ Miller, Robert (2023-09-08). "Lobbyists Make UK and CBI in talks over possible merger". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2023-09-08.
  12. ^ "CBI: CBI to move HQ to new offices at Cannon Street". Archived from the original on 9 May 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
  13. ^ Isaac, Anna (2023-03-06). "CBI boss Tony Danker steps aside amid allegations of misconduct". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-04-05.
  14. ^ "CBI boss Tony Danker steps aside after misconduct allegations". BBC News. 2023-03-06. Retrieved 2023-04-05.
  15. ^ Jack & Race (5 February 2024). "CBI settles legal action brought by sacked boss Tony Danker". bbc.co.uk. BBC. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  16. ^ Isaac, Anna (2023-04-03). "Revealed: new claims of sexual misconduct and 'toxic culture' at CBI". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-04-05.
  17. ^ "Rain Newton-Smith named as CBI Director General". CBI. Retrieved 2023-04-21.
  18. ^ Nachiappan, Arthi. "Who is Rain Newton-Smith? New CBI director making a swift return". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2023-04-21.
  19. ^ Isaac, Anna (21 April 2023). "Second woman claims she was raped by colleagues while working at CBI". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  20. ^ Partridge, Joanna; Wearden, Graeme; Makortoff, Kalyeena (21 April 2023). "CBI's future in doubt after flood of UK's biggest firms quit". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  21. ^ Howard, Tom. "Companies quit CBI after second rape claim". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2023-04-21.
  22. ^ Jordan, Dearbail; Espiner, Tom (2023-04-21). "John Lewis quits the CBI after second rape claim". BBC News. Retrieved 2023-04-21.
  23. ^ "UK business and politics: Natwest, EY and BMW quit CBI; Dowden named deputy prime minister". Financial Times. 2023-04-21. Retrieved 2023-04-21.
  24. ^ "Companies quit CBI after second rape allegation". Financial Times. 2023-04-21. Retrieved 2023-04-21.
  25. ^ Howard, Tom. "CBI exodus as companies quit after second rape claim". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2023-04-21.
  26. ^ "John Lewis and other major firms quit CBI after second rape claim". BBC News. 2023-04-21. Retrieved 2023-04-21.
  27. ^ Kollewe, Julia (5 May 2023). "CBI appoints ethics consultancy Principia Advisory in fight for survival 5 May 2023". The Guardian. Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  28. ^ Partridge, Joanna. "6 June 2023 CBI survives confidence vote after sexual misconduct allegations". theguardian.com. Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  29. ^ Isaac, Anna (13 June 2023). "Less than a third of CBI members backed lobby group at vote on its survival". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  30. ^ Davies, Rob (2023-09-17). "CBI seeks £3m from members within days to avoid financial oblivion". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-09-19.
  31. ^ Sieg, Jennifer (2023-09-19). "CBI postpones crunch AGM amid 'short term cash flow' issues". CityAM. Retrieved 2023-09-19.
  32. ^ "Chancellor offers olive branch to ailing CBI business group". Sky News. Retrieved 2023-09-19.
  33. ^ a b Isaac, Anna (26 March 2024). "Revealed: CBI uses gagging clauses to prevent discussion of sexual misconduct claims". Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2024.
  34. ^ "City veteran Rupert Soames to head scandal-hit CBI". www.ft.com. Retrieved 2023-12-06.
  35. ^ Isaac & Collingridge (6 February 2024). "Misconduct claims tipped CBI into 'near death experience', says president". theguardian.com. Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2024.
  36. ^ "CBI – Business surveys". Archived from the original on 2012-10-31. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  37. ^ "CBI – Future Champions". Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  38. ^ "CBI – Industrial Policy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  39. ^ Confederation of British Industry, Pulling Together: Strengthening the UK's Supply Chains, published October 2014, accessed 10 May 2023
  40. ^ "CBI – Business Voice". Archived from the original on 2012-10-14. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  41. ^ "CBI – Intelligence FIRST". Archived from the original on 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
  42. ^ "The Great Business Debate". CBI. Archived from the original on 2014-12-09. Retrieved 2014-09-17.