So how much will the CBI change?

Photograph: Pavlo Gonchar/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock Guardian May 31st Anna Isaac City editor

“‘An ethics consultancy, Principia Advisory, was asked to review the CBI’s culture.

According to Wednesday’s prospectus: ‘Principia do not find that blanket descriptions such as ‘toxic’ or ‘misogynistic’ are accurate or useful descriptions of CBI culture’ but that ‘attitudes towards culture are inconsistent, with a lack of awareness of different experiences and limited self-reflection.’

It also found that many ‘staff do not feel confident speaking up when they experience or observe misconduct.'”

AKA We didn’t find toxicity or misogyny. It was just a lack of awareness and self-reflectionSo not as nearly as bad as it’s been painted. In fact, if the staff had just stood up for themselves, none of this would have happened!

It’s a bit like saying the BBC’s culture towards on-screen talent, like our culture’s worship of celebrity, didn’t facilitate Savile.

I’d like to know precisely how the CBI’s staff defined the culture – they are the ones who have been subject to it. To ensure there is no future scandal, the CBI needs to train HR and interviewers in profiling to help them weed out toxic personalities at the interview stage – remembering the more perfect a candidate seems the more rigorous the interview and vetting needs to be. The CBI needs to empower staff to challenge abusive behaviour at the point when perpetrators are testing boundaries – when it can be nipped in the bud. But you really genuinely have to empower your staff – which terrifies business. However, there should be no fear as all you would be empowering your staff to be is REASONABLE.

Suppose you upskill staff to recognise all the grooming methods bullies and harassers use and teach them to construct appropriate and effective responses. In that case, you will have a healthy workplace, no more likely to have bullying and harassment than someone is to catch Polio once vaccinated. You would also have grown a workforce who will report other behaviours that could damage the business in other ways. That’s the opportunity the CBI now have – if successful, they could use what they have learned to help their members’ businesses from turning toxic. I would also like to know if the CBI’s experiences will make them more receptive to legislation making workplace bullying legally actionable? The answer will tell you how much the CBI is willing to change.


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