Tony Danker, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has temporarily stepped aside from his role while an independent investigation takes place into allegations of misconduct. The CBI has hired employment law expert Joanna Chatterton to lead the investigation into a formal complaint made by a female CBI employee in January, as well as informal reports of concerns over Danker’s behavior. The complainant alleged that Danker made unwanted contact with her and considered this to be sexual harassment.
The CBI has confirmed that the complaint was investigated at the time, but no disciplinary process was required. However, following inquiries from The Guardian newspaper about the complaint and additional misconduct allegations, including that Danker had been viewing employees’ personal Instagram profiles, the CBI decided to launch an independent investigation.
Matthew Fell, the CBI’s chief UK policy director, has replaced Danker on an interim basis. Danker, who has led the CBI since November 2020, has continued to represent the organization in the media and at public events, most recently at a CBI conference where the keynote speaker was the education secretary, Gillian Keegan.
The CBI claims to represent 190,000 businesses, including Lloyds Bank, Tesco, and HSBC, and has regular interactions with the prime minister and members of the cabinet. Danker has attempted to rebuild the organization’s relationship with the government after the CBI was excluded from Boris Johnson’s administration due to its anti-Brexit stance.
During his tenure, Danker has advocated for empowering women and boosting childcare funding to increase female participation in the workforce. Prior to joining the CBI, he was the CEO of the business lobby group Be the Business and worked at Guardian News & Media as international director and chief strategy officer.
Danker has apologized for any offense caused to colleagues and pledged to cooperate fully with the investigation. “It’s been mortifying to hear that I have caused offense or anxiety to any colleague. It was completely unintentional, and I apologize profusely,” he said. “The CBI is the employers’ organization, and I am proud to be its leader. We always strive for the highest standards. I, therefore, support our decision to review any new allegations independently. And I have decided to step aside while the review takes place and will cooperate fully with it.”
The allegations against Danker highlight the importance of workplace conduct and the need for companies to take all such complaints seriously. The CBI’s decision to launch an independent investigation demonstrates a commitment to upholding the highest standards of professionalism and respect in the workplace.