LONDON (AP) — Britain’s leading business lobby group won the overwhelming support of its members at a special meeting on Tuesday for a broad set of reform proposals that should ensure its continued survival.
Following a string of allegations of inappropriate behavior that led to the cancellation of membership subscriptions from some of the country’s biggest companies, the Confederation of British Industry sought the support of its members for its plan to improve its governance structures and internal culture.
Members were asked to vote on whether its plan for renewal is enough to give them “the confidence you need to support the CBI.” At the extraordinary general meeting, the organization received the backing of 93% of the members who voted, with 371 votes cast — the dozens of companies that had quit the CBI didn’t vote. A further 23 members withheld their vote.
“After an incredibly tough period, I’m deeply grateful for the faith shown in us by our members,” CBI director-general Rain Newton-Smith said. “We will work tirelessly to repay the faith shown in us and are committed to living the values and changes we have proposed.”
The CBI has been rocked by multiple sexual misconduct allegations since March, including rape, in recent months, which prompted dozens of household names, including automaker BMW, banking firm NatWest and insurance group Aviva, to ditch their membership in the organization. The scale of the outrage raised questions over whether the CBI could survive or whether it was actually needed.
Within its plan, the CBI said that it will speed up the hunt for a successor to its president, a “refreshed board” and the creation of a new People and Culture subcommittee of the board. It said it will also establish an external expert Culture Advisory Committee and bolster its internal training and communications.
“We’ve made real progress in implementing the top-to-bottom program of change promised by the board and, while there remains work to do, today’s result represents an important milestone on that journey,” Newton-Smith said.
Failure to have got the plan through could have spelled the demise of the organization, which was established in 1965 to ensure business’ voice is heard within the government.
The U.K. government, which paused its interactions with the CBI over the past few months, has yet to comment on the vote. The CBI will be hoping that it will reengage soon now that the vote has been won.