CBI boss steps aside amid probe into ‘workplace misconduct’

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CBI boss steps aside amid probe into ‘workplace misconduct’

Confederation of British Industry launches inquiry over claims that Tony Danker initiated "unwanted contact" with female employee who considered it "sexual harassment"

Tony Danker (CBI on Twitter)
Tony Danker (CBI on Twitter)

The boss of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), one of the UK’s largest business groups, has stepped aside pending an investigation following complaints about his conduct in the workplace.

The organisation said it had looked into an allegation about Tony Danker’s behaviour in January but found that “the issue did not require escalation to a disciplinary process”.

However, last Thursday it was made aware of new reports about the director-general’s conduct and has now launched an inquiry.

It came after The Guardian newspaper approached the CBI over the complaints, which included claims from a female employee that Mr Danker made “unwanted contact with her and considered this unwanted conduct to be sexual harassment”.

The publication reported that Joanna Chatterton, the head of employment law at Fox Williams, will lead the investigation.

The latest complaints were made a day after the CBI’s future work conference, which included speeches from the education secretary Gillian Keegan and deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner.

In a statement, the group said: “On March 2, the CBI was made aware of new reports regarding Tony Danker’s workplace conduct.

“We have now taken steps to initiate an independent investigation into these new matters.

“Tony Danker asked to step aside from his role as director-general of the CBI while the independent investigation into these matters takes place.

“The CBI takes all matters of workplace conduct extremely seriously but it is important to stress that, until this investigation is complete, any new allegations remain unproven and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

In his own statement, Mr Danker said: “It’s been mortifying to hear that I have caused offence or anxiety to any colleague. It was completely unintentional, and I apologise profusely. The CBI is the employers’ organisation, and I am very proud to be its leader. We always strive for the highest standards. I therefore support the decision we’ve taken to review any new allegations independently.”

The CBI boss took over at the helm of the organisation in November 2020, replacing Dame Carolyn Fairbairn.

Mr Danker had previously been the first chief executive of ‘Be The Business’, a body founded by the Chancellor and a group of FTSE 100 chairs to support UK business growth.

Matthew Fell, the chief UK policy director at the CBI, will now lead the group on an interim basis during the probe.

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