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CBI - John Edwards speaks at TechUK Digital Ethics Summit 2023

John Edwards speaks at TechUK Digital Ethics Summit 2023

Good morning, everyone. It’s fantastic to have you join us online.

Before we take your questions, I wanted to quickly reflect on how far we’ve come in this unprecedented year for the CBI and also start to look forward to an important year ahead for UK business.

My aim isn’t to restate what we said to you in our prospectus, A Renewed CBI, or at the EGM in June.

Instead, I want to take this opportunity to thank you again for your support.

The CBI couldn’t have delivered the extensive programme of change we have without your input and guidance.

Nor could we have continued to campaign on the issues that matter to you with such influence and impact.

It also wouldn’t have been possible for us to keep moving forward without the dedication of our brilliant colleagues across the CBI.


To ensure we learnt the lessons from this crisis, we brought in independent experts: Fox Williams most immediately; Principia to conduct our Culture Review; and Ffion Hague to evaluate our governance.

In every case, we have accepted and worked to embed their recommendations in full.

Tomorrow, we will share with you our six-month summary of progress since the EGM, in more detail.

But to quickly recap, some of the most critical milestones.

We have overhauled our HR policies and processes, for example, reinforcing our grievance and their handling processes.

We have also taken decisive action to strengthen our culture, recommitting to our mission to ensure sustainable growth for the benefit of society.

Next week, we will launch our renewed and co-created organisational values.

And within the CBI’s enhanced committee structure, we have established our People and Culture Committee, alongside an external expert Culture Advisory Committee – to provide rigorous oversight.

As we continue to rollout our governance reforms, today will be your first annual opportunity to confirm all current CBI Board members via a vote.

And as we shared with you yesterday, our CBI Chairs’ Committee, President’s Committee and representatives of the Trade Association Committee have approved the nomination of Rupert Soames OBE as the next President of the CBI.

Rupert and I are working together to ensure a smooth transition in the New Year.

And as per our process, the new President – alongside other CBI Board members –will be confirmed via election and re-election at our 2024 AGM.


Turning to our external reach, following the CBI’s organisational restructure, our policy and campaign teams, alongside our economists, have been working hard to influence the big political moments that impact you and the world in which you operate.

And in the week of the Autumn Statement, we were pleased to welcome the Chancellor and Jonathan Reynolds, the Shadow Business Secretary to our national conference, beginning the business countdown to the UK General Election.

This followed meetings with the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor to discuss the CBI’s headline fiscal asks, alongside discussions with advisors and officials at all levels of Treasury and wider Whitehall.

This campaigning – with your great support – paid off.

Together, we secured measures to make full expensing permanent.

Delivering on the CBI campaign – kick-started in 2018 − to increase the competitiveness of the UK’s capital allowances regime, and boost business investment.

As well as reforms to speed up planning and grid connections.

And to maintain a focus on occupational health, helping to ease labour pressures.

All of these build on our gains at the Spring Budget, including expanding free childcare provision.

And we will continue to argue just as hard publicly, and behind closed doors, on the issues that matter to you like further action on business rates, greater flexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy, and ensuring a globally competitive business environment.

In our Nations and Regions, we are also back to business-as-usual engagement at all levels of government – meeting First Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, and the Metro Mayors.

But this is just the start.


Last week, we launched the CBI’s Business Manifesto.

Co-created with our members, the Manifesto draws on insights from firms of all sectors, all sizes, right across our country.

Amplifying your voices, we want to lead the national economic debate in the run up to the General Election − building a consensus for action where we can.

Together, we’ve developed practical innovative solutions to address the UK’s challenges and seize opportunities.

It is a decisive programme of action that the next UK government can take in their first 100 days, 100 weeks and throughout the Parliamentary term to deliver a decade of sustainable growth.

And with Rain as our CEO, we have a leader with the passion and commitment to help us achieve it.


It has been the role of the CBI for almost 60 years to provide UK businesses, ranging from global multinationals to local innovative starts-up, and representing all sectors with the insight, access and influence they need to succeed.

All of us, who work for the CBI, believe in the power of business to invest in ideas that create jobs, enable people to progress, and help their communities thrive.

Despite the demands of this year, it has been a privilege to serve as the CBI’s President.

It has been our, and my, toughest year in business, and I would not have got through it without the magnificent support and good wishes you have given me during those troubled times.

And I am very proud to have had the opportunity to have led this organisation despite these challenges.

A sentiment I know my predecessor, Lord Bilimoria shares.

And I want to thank him for his service as he ends his term as Vice-President.

He will say a few words shortly.

I am also grateful to my other fellow Board Members past and present, for their support and guidance.

And I want to thank Rain, alongside our ExCo Leadership team, and all CBI colleagues, who have worked so hard to get us back on our feet again.

Then my final thanks go to you – our members.

There is power in our collective voice and work together.


Over the last year, the CBI has been challenged and – rightly – scrutinised like never before.

But I hope our commitment to put things right reinforces how seriously we take our responsibilities to each other, and to support the sustainable growth of your businesses and the wider UK.

As we head into the next year, and likely a busy General Election campaign, this important work – and our learning – will continue.

Thank you.

Original article link: https://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/articles/cbi-agm-president-brian-mcbrides-keynote-speech-in-full/

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