The chair of one of Britain’s most prominent business groups says she is stepping aside following allegations from staff members about her conduct.
Barbara Judge, chair of the Institute of Directors, told The Times newspaper that she was temporarily leaving her role and would “contest these allegations and the flawed process conducted so far”.
The IoD said it had “commissioned a full investigation” after its human resources department was “made aware of a number of allegations from staff members concerning the conduct of non-executive members of our board”.
The investigation was conducted by Hill Dickinson, the law firm, and its findings will be discussed on Thursday afternoon by the IoD Council, the body that oversees the business group’s constitution.
The Times said that Lady Judge had been found to have used racist and sexual language, and to have bullied her assistant, which she denied.
Lady Judge told the newspaper that she had not been given a chance to respond. She could not be reached for comment late on Wednesday.
Lady Judge, a New York-born former banker and chair of the Pension Protection Fund, became chair of the IoD in 2015 and was the first woman to take the role.
She has worn with pride the epithet “the best-connected woman in Britain”, because of her presence on many corporate boards. Among her current roles, she is a director at the charity Dementia UK and chair of the Astana Financial Services Authority in Kazakhstan.
She has also been a visiting fellow at Oxford university’s Centre for Corporate Reputation.
Allegations of misconduct have received a greater spotlight over the past year, following high-profile cases in the media, politics and the charity sector. The IoD’s inquiry was commissioned by Joan Stringer, its senior independent council member.
The IoD, which has been a prominent voice for a soft Brexit, has more than 30,000 members from the business world.