Barclays boss takes over as CBI head as group struggles for survival

Barclays boss takes over as director general of the CBI as the scandal-hit lobby group fights for survival after sexual misconduct allegations

  • Ex-CBI insider Rain Newton-Smith, 47, will be tasked with saving the lobby group
  • The Barclays boss comes in after ex-chief Tony Danker was forced to step down 

A former Barclays boss will start her new job as the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) new director-general today.

Rain Newton-Smith, 47, has taken control of the scandal-hit lobby group after former chief Tony Danker was fired following complaints about his behaviour and sexual misconduct allegations.

Taking over the helm, Ms Newton-Smith will be tasked with ensuring the survival of the business group after dozens of high profile members cut ties due to the scandal that has engulfed it. 

Ms Newton Smith, who studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University, previously worked for almost nine years as the CBI’s chief economist.

The high-flying executive has now left her job as a managing director at Barclays, which she started in March 2023, to return to the CBI. 

CBI insider Rain Newton-Smith has taken over from Tony Danker as the business group’s head

Critics, however, warned the business group’s appointment might not ‘cut the mustard’ as they raised concerns the long-term CBI executive could lack the ability to bring a ‘new approach.’ 

‘I’m sure she is wonderful in lots of respects but it doesn’t quite cut the mustard if you’re trying to show that you’re embracing a new approach to all of this,’ City fund manager Baroness Morrissey told the BBC. 

Mr Danker’s exit led to a flurry of allegations against the CBI including reports that two women were raped while working at the London headquartered business group. 

In one case, a woman said she was raped by two male colleagues while working at one of the CBI’s overseas offices in 2018, according to The Guardian. 

The woman said she had no recollection of consenting to sexual activity with either of the two colleagues, but that she was later presented with an explicit photo of herself, in which she appeared to be unconscious, with a ‘penis in her mouth’. 

Ex-CBI director general Tony Danker was forced to exit in the face of sexual misconduct claims

The CBI is now struggling for survival as dozens of its high profile members have cut ties

A second woman said her manager attempted raped her at a CBI summer boat party on the river Thames in 2019. 

The CBI is also facing claims that its managers shared explicit photos with junior colleagues and behaved inappropriately towards female staff, while others made claims of widespread cocaine use at the lobby group’s events. 

The CBI responded to the allegations by firing a ‘number of people’ as the scandal-ridden organisation set to overhaul its internal culture after admitting it had failed to ‘filter out culturally toxic people’.

In an open letter, the lobby group’s president Brian McBride said the CBI’s failures had let a ‘very small minority of staff with regressive – and, in some cases, abhorrent – attitudes towards their female colleagues’ feel ‘assured in their behaviour’.

Top companies including John Lewis, BMW, Virgin Media and Mastercard have now severed their links to the CBI in the wake of the ongoing scandal. 

The CBI declined to comment.  

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