Cautious CBI missed a trick in anointing ‘clone’ Danker

Linda J. Dodson

And his work on productivity at Be the Business is precisely the kind of issue a corporate lobby group should be working on.

And yet the CBI could have, at this moment more than ever, looked for a more decisive change. It quite rightly makes a big play of its diversity. Of the candidates it interviewed, 57pc were women, and 10pc were from a BAME background.

And yet somehow CBI director-generals all end up looking very samey.

Danker will take over from Carolyn Fairbairn (The Economist, McKinsey and the BBC), who took over from John Cridland (a career CBI staffer), who took over from Richard Lambert (a former editor of the FT), who took over from Digby Jones (a senior partner at a Birmingham law firm), who took over from Adair Turner (banking then McKinsey) who took over from Howard Davies (academia and McKinsey), who followed John Banham (the Foreign Office and McKinsey).

There are two common threads there.

The first is that a spell at McKinsey seems, to put it mildly, to help. Extraordinarily, five of the last eight director-generals have spent time at the firm.

The second is that it doesn’t include anyone with a background in a real business. Think tanks, newspapers, government, law, and most of all consultancy are all very well. But they don’t give you much of a grounding in what it is like to actually run a company.

British business is far more diverse than the CBI seems to realise. Over the last decade, we have seen an extra-ordinary burst of entrepreneurship that has created one of the highest start-up rates in the world.

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