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How we work

The CBI is a not-for-profit membership organisation, founded by Royal Charter on 30 July 1965 when the British Employers’ Confederation, the Federation of British Industries and the National Association of British Manufacturers joined together to form the Confederation of British Industry.

Our mandate comes from our members

The CBI receives its mandate from our 9 regional councils, 3 national councils from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Plus 12 subject based policy standing committees, an Enterprise Forum which represents small and medium-sized enterprises and a Trade Association Council, which represents our trade association members.

Each quarter this engagement process reaches over 900 CBI members who have a direct say in what we do and how we do it, from refreshing our workplan to discussing the key business issues of the day and re-calibrating our influence.

Each of our regional and national council members are elected to a term of office by the rest of the CBI’s regional membership base. Our standing committee members are invited to join based on their sector experience and technical expertise.

The CBI Council is the formal governing body for the CBI 

As established in our Royal Charter, the Council comprises of all the members of the CBI’s regional and national councils, the Enterprise Forum, the Trade Association Council, the President’s Committee, and past CBI Presidents. To reflect modern boardroom practices and decision-making:

  • Decisions on policy matters have been delegated by the CBI Council to the Chairs’ Committee.
  • The Council’s authority on operational issues has been delegated to the CBI Board.
  • The CBI President invites and convenes the President’s Committee, which acts as an advisory forum for the CBI President.

The CBI Chairs’ Committee is responsible for setting the CBI’s policy priorities

Final policy positions are mandated by our Chairs’ Committee, which has a seat for all of the chairs of our regional and national councils and subject-based policy standing committees, Enterprise Forum and Trade Association Council. The Chairs’ Committee meets 4 times a year following each standing committee and regional council round.  


See more about our councils and committees and their members

We also use surveys, working groups, 1-2-1 meetings and member roundtable events to make sure we represent member views. Our team of policy experts and dedicated account managers stay in regular contact with our members to consult them on our priorities.

This is a rigorous and continuous process aimed at achieving a strong member mandate. Of course, on individual issues members may have different views. A significant part of CBI’s role is to find consensus so that we can present government with viable solutions with broad based support.

The CBI Board is responsible for decision making on operational activities

The CBI’s strategic and financial decisions are decided on by the CBI Board, which is chaired by the CBI President and includes the support and guidance of 4 other non-executives. The Board is assisted by an Audit Committee, chaired and guided by 2 of the 4 non-executives that sit on the Board and a Remuneration Committee.

In line with corporate governance best practice, the non-executive members of the Board provide independent knowledge, judgement and expertise and constructively challenge the executive members of the board.

Day to day management of the CBI is in the hands of the Director-General supported by an Executive Committee made up of the Deputy Director-General for Policy and Campaigns, Deputy Director-General for Commercial, Chief of Staff and Director of Corporate Communications. 

The President’s Committee acts as an advisory body to the CBI President

The CBI President’s Committee is invited and convened at the CBI President’s invitation. This group comprises of up to 80 of the CBI’s leading members as well as the chairs of our Enterprise Forum and Trade Association Council.

Process for electing the CBI President

The CBI President is a non-executive role that is elected by members for a one-year term at the CBI Annual General Meeting.

The President can stand for a total of three terms as set out in the CBI Royal Charter. When choosing candidates for future Presidents, the CBI Board pulls together a longlist and then a shortlist of potential candidates for the role. A recommendation is then made to the CBI Chairs’ Committee, who have the authority nominate a candidate to stand for election at the CBI AGM where all CBI members are eligible to vote.

The process also applies for a Vice President. The Vice President(s) are eligible to go on to be President (subject to nomination and election), and this helps with succession planning and continuity.

The President chairs the CBI Board, Chairs’ Committee and President’s Committee on a quarterly basis. The Vice President sits on the CBI Board in a non-executive capacity and is eligible to attend both the President’s and Chairs’ Committees.

Annual General Meeting

Every year our members are invited to attend our Annual General Meeting. The Annual General Meeting is used to elect the CBI Auditors annually, elect or re-elect CBI Board members and the CBI President and vote on a wide variety of resolutions.

Annual Report

Every year the CBI publishes its Annual Report which contains more information on our governance arrangements, key highlights from the year’s activities and details on our financial information.