What a very uned­i­fy­ing busi­ness!

Lady Judge, the boss of the In­sti­tute of Di­rec­tors, has quit amid ex­tra­or­di­nary claims of se­cret record­ings, racism, sex­ism and bul­ly­ing. What on earth is go­ing on at one of Britain’s most au­gust bod­ies?

Daily Mail - - Con­fi­den­tial - by Tom Raw­storne

Next month, the In­sti­tute of Di­rec­tors will throw open the doors of its im­pos­ing head­quar­ters, a Grade-I listed Ge­or­gian man­sion on London’s Pall Mall, to wel­come those at­tend­ing a two-day lead­er­ship course.

there, in ex­change for a touch over £2,500 each, they will learn how to cope with all the de­mands that the modern world can throw at a com­pany boss.

‘In an ever- evolv­ing busi­ness land­scape . . . strength­en­ing the lead­er­ship and strate­gic ca­pa­bil­ity of your busi­ness for the long term has never been more im­por­tant,’ the blurb reads. ‘Strong lead­er­ship is fun­da­men­tal to the suc­cess­ful re­al­i­sa­tion of your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s vi­sion.’

Sound ad­vice, no doubt, and given that the 115-year-old In­sti­tute rep­re­sents 30,000 se­nior man­agers in UK firms, ad­vice that one might have imag­ined they would have fol­lowed in the day-to-day run­ning of their own or­gan­i­sa­tion.

the re­al­ity, as has been re­vealed in re­cent weeks, could hardly be more dif­fer­ent.

In­deed, rather than set­ting an ex­am­ple of cor­po­rate governance in ac­tion, the IoD has in­stead be­come a ver­i­ta­ble laugh­ing stock within the busi­ness com­mu­nity. For­get ‘strong lead­er­ship’, what has emerged is a pic­ture of a lead­er­ship at war.

On one side is chair­woman Bar­bara Judge — also known by her ti­tle Lady Judge — and her deputy Sir Ken­neth Olisa. On the other Stephen Martin, the body’s di­rec­tor-gen­eral, and Dame Joan Stringer, a lead­ing mem­ber of the IoD’s rul­ing coun­cil.

the lat­ter pair are behind a le­gal probe into complaints from more than a dozen mem­bers of staff ac­cus­ing Lady Judge, a 71-year-old with a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the best- con­nected busi­ness­women in the coun­try, of racism, sex­ism and bul­ly­ing. the most se­ri­ous charge cen­tres on a con­ver­sa­tion she had with Mr Martin, which he covertly recorded.

‘the prob­lem is we have one black and we have one preg­nant woman and that is the worst com­bi­na­tion we could pos­si­bly have,’ she is al­leged to have said, re­fer­ring to the IoD’s ad­min­is­tra­tion staff.

Other claims are that she said she could not sack a black worker be­cause ‘they would be­have ag­gres­sively’, told a col­league not to ‘dress like a tart’ and de­scribed a staff mem­ber hav­ing another baby as ‘ca­reer sui­cide’.

And that is just the start of it. A full list of the 41 complaints against Lady Judge, seen by this news­pa­per, range from the bizarre to the ridicu­lous. they in­clude al­le­ga­tions that she cur­ried sup­port from un­der­lings with of­fers of vis­its to her lux­ury flat, made staff go clothes shop­ping for her and would only read email mes­sages if they were printed off one- sided and dou­ble-spaced. It is also al­leged that she once forced her as­sis­tant to stand on a stair­well for an hour, in her place, so a painter could in­ves­ti­gate the light­ing for a por­trait of Lady Judge which had been com­mis­sioned in the set­ting.

When the claims were leaked to the Press, Lady Judge and her deputy felt they had no choice but to re­sign. two of her other sup­port­ers have also since quit. But they have not gone qui­etly.

Lady Judge has de­nied the claims against her and accused Mr Martin of ‘en­trap­ment’. He has since de­nied this, claim­ing he only recorded her be­cause he feared no one would be­lieve him — a ‘ CeO from Scun­thorpe’, as he de­scribed him­self — rather than some­one of the stand­ing of Lady Judge.

Her sup­port­ers are hav­ing none of it, claim­ing she fell vic­tim to a ‘per­sonal vendetta’ and a ‘coup’. Now sources are pre­dict­ing fresh blood­let­ting to come, warn­ing: ‘It’s not over yet — the plot­ters will be purged’.

‘I think the rep­u­ta­tion of the IoD now is as about as low as it can be,’ said one in­sider. ‘there are a lot of peo­ple who are go­ing to re­sign or not re­new their mem­ber­ship be­cause of what has hap­pened — and I can’t be­lieve any new mem­bers are go­ing to join. It’s em­bar­rass­ing. this isn’t the sort of thing that should be hap­pen­ing at the IoD — it’s golf club pet­ti­ness taken to the ex­treme.’

When Bar­bara Judge was ap­pointed as the IoD’s first fe­male chair in its history in 2015, there can have been lit­tle doubt what they were get­ting.

In­stantly recog­nis­able thanks to her plat­inum blonde bun, pie-crust col­lar shirts and be­spoke tai­lored skirt suits, the tough-talk­ing New Yorker’s rep­u­ta­tion firmly pre­ceded her.

ALAWYer by train­ing, at the age of 33 she was the youngest per­son to be made a mem­ber of Amer­ica’s Se­cu­ri­ties and ex­change Com­mis­sion af­ter which she headed to Hong Kong with her hus­band to be­come the first woman to be ap­pointed an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of a British mer­chant bank.

Want­ing her son to be ed­u­cated in eng­land, the fam­ily moved to London in 1994. While the boy donned a tail­coat and went to eton, she worked for nu­mer­ous pri­vate eq­uity firms.

Fol­low­ing the end of her first mar­riage, in 2002 she wed City grandee and mul­ti­mil­lion­aire Con­ser­va­tive Party donor Sir Paul Judge.

two years later she landed a £60,000 job work­ing two days a week as head of the UK Atomic en­ergy Au­thor­ity, de­spite hav­ing no pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in the sec­tor.

that was com­bined with seats on the boards of so many other com­pa­nies and char­i­ties that the jour­nal­ist robert Pe­ston was prompted to de­scribe her as ‘one of the most im­pres­sive net­work­ers I have ever known’. With her hard work came awards — and re­wards. In 2010, Lady Judge was made a CBe for ser­vices to the nu­clear and fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­tries. today, she lives in a vast flat in Cen­tral London on the em­bank­ment. Bought in 2000 for just un­der £4.5 mil­lion, cur­rent es­ti­mates value the prop­erty at around £16.5 mil­lion.

And de­spite be­ing past re­tire­ment age, Lady Judge has shown no sign of slow­ing up, her work­ing days be­gin­ning at 5am, week­ends in­cluded. Yet it ap­pears that nei­ther her work ethic nor her ‘forth­right’ man­ner en­deared her to staff at the IoD.

Fol­low­ing her ap­point­ment, she an­nounced it was her in­ten­tion to ‘champion women’ in the work­place. Iron­i­cally, of the 14 staff to lodge complaints sub­se­quently, the ma­jor­ity would be fe­male.

things started badly. In an at­tempt to make the place more fe­male­friendly, Lady Judge sug­gested re­mov­ing the paint­ings of all the ‘old gen­er­als’ that adorned the walls, re­plac­ing them with por­traits of fa­mous women. But it now emerges that staff were un­happy about the plan, com­plain­ing she had failed to con­sult the cor­rect ‘in­ter­nal peo­ple’.

THeN,in 2016, she caused con­tro­versy when she ad­dressed a con­fer­ence in London for women in fi­nance on the thorny sub­ject of ma­ter­nity leave.

‘My mother used to say, when a baby is born it needs to be fed, bathed and di­a­pered,’ she told the Wealth Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion’s Women In Wealth Fo­rum. ‘ An 18year-old girl can do that. Your job is to get the money to pay the 18-yearold girl. When you have to be there is when the child gets smarter than the nanny. I know it’s counter-cul­tural, but I think long ma­ter­nity breaks are bad for women.’

Her com­ments an­gered women’s groups at the time. And, we now know, also an­gered women at the IoD. they would claim that Lady Judge not only tried to per­suade staff she had been mis­rep­re­sented by the Press, but then re­fused to al­low a piece to go out in her name to apol­o­gise.

Mat­ters ap­pear to have de­te­ri­o­rated fur­ther still when Stephen Martin was ap­pointed as the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s £344,000-a-year di­rec­tor - gen­eral in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

the Belfast-born 52-year- old had pre­vi­ously run the Clugston Group, a con­struc­tion and engi­neer­ing firm in Scun­thorpe. Within two months of his ap­point­ment, he was so con­cerned about the be­hav­iour of Lady Judge that he set about covertly recording her.

It’s claimed that dur­ing a meet­ing in April 2017 she made com­ments sug­gest­ing mem­bers of the In­sti­tute were no good at their job be­cause they were black or preg­nant.

‘We have three in­ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple do­ing a job when one ex­pe­ri­enced per­son could do it and they are mak­ing mis­takes so I fig­ure frankly I have more ex­pe­ri­ence on this more than any­one else,’ she is said to have said.

‘And so the prob­lem is we have one black and we have one preg­nant woman and that is the worst com­bi­na­tion we could pos­si­bly have. No, two blacks and one preg­nant woman.’

It is claimed she said she could not fire another em­ployee be­cause black peo­ple re­act ‘ag­gres­sively’.

Mr Martin would later jus­tify his se­cret record­ings on the grounds she had pre­vi­ously made com­ments of a racist na­ture to him, but that he feared no one would be­lieve him.

to this back­ground, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was or­dered by Dame Joan Stringer, the IoD’s se­nior in­de­pen­dent coun­cil mem­ber.

Dame Joan, the 69-year-old for­mer vice-chan­cel­lor of ed­in­burgh Napier Univer­sity, com­mis­sioned Hill Dick­in­son, a law firm, to in­ter­view staff as well as those who were the sub­ject of the complaints.

Its re­port in­cluded al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment, and dis­rup­tive and un­rea­son­able be­hav­iour. It also raised con­cerns that

other board mem­bers sym­pa­thetic to Lady Judge had failed to act to pre­vent the be­hav­iour.

The scale of the complaints is broad, to say the least.

It is claimed that Lady Judge tried to stop the IoD from crit­i­cis­ing the Bud­get to pro­tect her friends Theresa May and Philip Ham­mond; that she tried to get staff to help out with a fash­ion show for a com­pany she ran; and that she pres­sured the fa­cil­i­ties man­ager to meet a com­pany in which her son had an in­ter­est over a con­tract to fit out the third floor of the IoD’s Pall Mall of­fice.

She was also accused of seek­ing the ‘sup­port of peo­ple by buy­ing gifts and invit­ing them to her apart­ment’, of ad­vis­ing a fe­male em­ployee that she should not ‘dress like a tart’ and reg­u­larly re­duc­ing an as­sis­tant to tears with her in­ces­sant de­mands.

The draft re­port, pre­pared by lawyer Car­o­line Prosser, found many of the claims to be proven.

And it con­cluded: ‘I have no doubt from what I saw and heard when I met with many of the wit­nesses that the health and well­be­ing of some em­ploy­ees/for­mer em­ploy­ees has al­ready suf­fered as a con­se­quence of their ex­pe­ri­ences.

‘Peo­ple I met with were vis­i­bly ner­vous and ap­peared gen­uinely fright­ened of Lady Judge and be­lieved that she was ca­pa­ble of, and would carry out, acts of re­crim­i­na­tion which could dam­age their ca­reers.’

It ended: ‘I have no doubt that dur­ing her ca­reer Lady Judge has achieved many great things and has as­sisted peo­ple, in­clud­ing women, to progress. How­ever, do­ing good does not ab­solve a per­son from act­ing prop­erly and treat­ing all peo­ple with dig­nity and re­spect. There was over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence that Lady Judge had, dur­ing her time at the IoD, treated many peo­ple dis­re­spect­fully and in a man­ner which I con­sider to be bul­ly­ing.’

SoMetwo weeks ago, the find­ings of the re­port were leaked to the Press. Soon af­ter­wards, Lady Judge an­nounced she would be stand­ing down, say­ing the busi­ness group was ‘not an or­gan­i­sa­tion I wish to be a part of’.

In her res­ig­na­tion let­ter, she wrote: ‘Al­though I strongly ob­ject to the breach of trust aris­ing from the se­cret recording of a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion, I ac­cept that the lan­guage used when dis­cussing the em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion of in­di­vid­u­als with pro­tected char­ac­ter­is­tics was not of the modern standard. I deeply re­gret the lan­guage I used and apol­o­gise if this caused any distress or up­set.’

She said she’d had a life­long com­mit­ment to eth­nic mi­nori­ties and women in the work­place and added: ‘As for the false claim that I said “blacks can get ag­gres­sive”, I never ever said this or made a racial slur of any kind: any sug­ges­tion I did is an out­right lie.’

Lady Judge also at­tacked the ‘con­spir­a­to­rial’ way in which the process had been han­dled, some­thing that was echoed by Sir Ken­neth her deputy, when he too quit.

Sir Ken­neth, the first British black man to set up his own mer­chant bank, de­scribed the mat­ter as a ‘ cor­po­rate train wreck’ de­scrib­ing the re­port as ‘defam­a­tory, rid­dled with er­rors of fact, false ac­cu­sa­tions and un-ev­i­denced opin­ions’. He de­fended Lady Judge, say­ing she was ‘nei­ther sex­ist or racist’.

Ten­sions be­tween the two sides height­ened fur­ther when di­rec­tor­gen­eral Mr Martin de­scribed their de­par­ture as ‘ a vic­tory for or­di­nary staff mem­bers, who had the courage to risk jeop­ar­dis­ing their ca­reers, to speak out and make complaints about the con­duct and lan­guage of peo­ple in very se­nior po­si­tions’. And that wasn’t to be the end of the leaks — de­tails of the agenda of a fol­low-up cri­sis meet­ing of the coun­cil at the IoD have now also emerged.

In it, Dame Joan said the In­sti­tute was stand­ing by the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. She said Ms Prosser had con­firmed that Lady Judge had been in­ter­viewed over two days for a to­tal of 10½ hours, ac­com­pa­nied by a lawyer, and had been able to re­spond to each al­le­ga­tion. The same ap­plied to Sir Ken­neth.

And she added: ‘I can as­sure you that I have no vendetta against Lady Judge, I make no per­sonal gain out of this re­gret­table sit­u­a­tion and have striven at all times to act in­de­pen­dently and pro­fes­sion­ally, in ac­cor­dance with the laws of the In­sti­tute.

‘I am shocked and ap­palled at the fact that deal­ing with th­ese very se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions has led to at­tacks on my mo­ti­va­tion. This is par­tic­u­larly galling as all I have done is ful­fil my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to the IoD.’

But that is un­likely to be the last word on the mat­ter. The furore has seen Lady Judge, whose hus­band died last year, forced to put plans to launch a home­wares and fash­ion busi­ness on the back burner.

She has also been sus­pended or stood down from the boards of a num­ber of char­i­ties and other or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Friends says she has been deeply up­set by her treat­ment and, cur­rently on busi­ness in Ja­pan, is con­sid­er­ing whether or not to take le­gal ac­tion against the IoD.

Which, as the events of the past few weeks have shown, would un­doubt­edly pro­vide another in­sight into how one of Britain’s most in­flu­en­tial or­gan­i­sa­tions is run. But one that its mem­bers would do well not to em­u­late.

High-flyer: Bar­bara Judge was the first fe­male chair in the IoD’s his­tory

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