Institute of Directors

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Institute of Directors
Building, Pall Mall - DSC04234.JPG
Institute of Directors, Pall Mall, London
Founded1903; 117 years ago (1903)
TypeProfessional organisation
Key people
John Watson, Interim Chair

The Institute of Directors (IoD) is a business organisation for company directors, senior business leaders and entrepreneurs. It is the UK’s longest running organisation for professional leaders, having been founded in 1903 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1906. The IoD, per its mission statement, stands for "free enterprise, entrepreneurialism, wealth creation and good corporate governance," and represents "the views of businesses and IoD members in the media and with government."[citation needed]

The IoD is located in a Grade I-listed building at 116 Pall Mall, formerly the United Service Club. Members of the IoD also gain access to co-working spaces around the UK, bespoke market intelligence, tailored tax and legal support, exclusive member-only events along with discounts on IoD professional development courses and events.

From a high of 55,000 members in 2005, the IoD currently has just over 25,000 full members[1] with membership continuing to decline year on year.[2] Members of the IoD come from companies of all sizes and from all industries[citation needed]. Around 70% work for small and medium-sized enterprises and are typically in senior management and boardroom-level positions, while 78% of FTSE 100 companies have an IoD member on their board or in a senior management position.

History and royal charter[edit]

The IoD was founded in 1903 and incorporated by royal charter in 1906.[3] The royal charter compels the IoD to:

  • Promote for the public benefit high levels of skill, knowledge, professional competence and integrity on the part of directors
  • Represent the interests of members and the business community to government and in the public arena
  • Encourage and foster a climate favourable to entrepreneurial activity and wealth creation
  • Promote the study, research and development of corporate governance


The IoD represents individual members. Every member’s voice carries equal weight within the organisation, and members retain their membership of the IoD throughout their career. This allows the IoD free rein to speak out on behalf of the business community and discuss individual companies in public.

There are currently over 25,000 IoD members in the UK and overseas, with an additional 2,500 student members. Anybody who has an interest in business, is running a business, sits on a board or runs their own company can join the IoD.

To help address declining membership, the IoD 99 was established in 2014[4] and ended in 2018. This initiative offered a substantial discount on membership to business founders between the ages of 18 and 40.[5] Additionally IoD Advance was launched in March 2016, which gives additional benefits in return for a higher annual subscription.


The IoD represents its members and makes the case for enterprise, entrepreneurialism and business in the public and to government. Working with various stakeholders, the IoD campaigns on issues of importance to its members and the wider business community to build an environment in the UK which supports businesses and makes is easy to start, grow and run a company.

The IoD has experts on tax, infrastructure, law, Europe, corporate governance, financial services, technology, education, skills and regulation, and campaigns on all of these issues.


Business support[edit]

The IoD’s Information and Advisory Services offer members tailored and bespoke business advice on all aspects of running a business, including unbiased and confidential legal, financial, HR, marketing, and tax support. Full members of the IoD can access the support through online, telephone or face-to-face consultations, and are allowed up to 25 different consultations each year.

Training and development[edit]

The IoD provides training, with courses to suit business leaders at different stages of their career. There are role-specific training courses to equip directors with new skills to take on different roles along with the flagship Chartered Director course.

Training courses are open to both members and non-members, and around 5,000 people take part in an IoD course every year.[2] The IoD networks also provide executive coaching, mentoring services and online learning zones.

Initiatives and events[edit]

The IoD hosts hundreds of networking, policy and social events throughout the year and across the country.

Annual Convention[edit]

Julia Gillard delivers the inaugural Mackworth Lecture at the IoD, 2015

The Annual Convention is the flagship IoD event and a fixture of the business calendar and has historically taken place at the Royal Albert Hall each year. It draws some of the biggest business names and politicians and leaders from across the world. The convention has taken place every year since 1950. Nine different prime ministers have addressed the convention on more than eighteen occasions along with pioneers such as Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, and Richard Branson, serial entrepreneur, and members of the British royal family, including the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and the Charles, Prince of Wales. The last Annual Convention took place in September 2016 and included former Greece finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Lord Norman Lamont of Lerwick, global economist Dambisa Moyo, and Nicola Sturgeon.

Because of declining ticket and sponsorship revenues the Annual Convention took a year's break in 2017. The event in March 2018 was billed as "IoD Open House", a three-day business festival held at 116 Pall Mall.[6]

Rhondda Lecture[edit]

In 2015, the IoD launched the annual Rhondda Lecture, in honour of Margaret Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda, the first female President of the IoD. The lecture celebrates radical thought, leadership, bold ideas and activism. Julia Gillard, former Australian prime minister, delivered the inaugural lecture in June 2015 at 116 Pall Mall to an audience of politicians, academics, and business leaders. Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative party, gave the 2016 lecture and was interviewed by BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg at 116 Pall Mall in December.

Director magazine[edit]

Director is a business and lifestyle magazine for business leaders. It is circulated bi-monthly, is free to IoD members and available to purchase through subscription. It contains interviews with business leaders and politicians, updates from the IoD, debates on topical issues, reviews and features. In April 2017 it was announced that the editorial, advertising and production functions of the magazine will be transferred over to SevenC3, a contract publisher. As a result, a number of members of staff were made redundant. This was followed by an announcement in October 2017 that the magazine would be cut back to only six issues per year.

Structure and key people[edit]

The IoD is made up of regional divisions and branches across the UK which serve as the local point of contact for IoD members. At the national level, the IoD is governed by a board and a council, which serves as the voice of IoD members.

Stephen Martin was the director-general until early 2019, having succeeded Simon Walker in October 2016. Following Stephen Martin's departure, Anna Daroy became interim director-general for operations and Edwin Morgan director-general for external affairs. In October 2019 Jonathan Geldart was appointed as the IoD's new director-general.[7]

Barbara, Lady Judge became the IoD's first female chairman in May 2015. She promised to champion women and work to boost the number of women in senior executive positions across British business.[8] In September 2018, she left the organisation under controversial accusations of racism and bullying. She was succeeded by Charlotte Valeur[9] who stood down in August 2020 due to constraints on her time and rumours regarding opposition to a plan to quit the Pall Mall headquarters.[10] John Watson was appointed Interim Chair while the IoD seeks a permanent replacement.[11]

116 Pall Mall[edit]

The IoD occupy the Grade I listed 116 Pall Mall in London, which is open to members of the IoD, and has rooms and function suites available for commercial hire. The building is owned by the Crown Estate, along with the large collection of artwork that decorates the rooms. Until 1978, the building was run by the United Service Club. The building was designed by John Nash, the 19th-century architect who also designed the Brighton Pavilion and Marble Arch, and constructed between 1826 and 1828.

Between 2001 and 2014, members also had use of 123 Pall Mall. This was opened as a contemporary meeting space in contrast with the more traditional 116 Pall Mall, and the interiors were created by noted designers Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway. Despite its popularity with members, the building was closed in 2014 as part of cost-saving measures.

116 Pall Mall has been used as a location for many films and TV programmes, including Gandhi, Foyle's War, Downton Abbey, The Ali G Show, Parks and Recreation and The Dark Knight.


  1. ^ "Membership | IoD". Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  2. ^ a b "IoD Annual Report 2019" (PDF). The IoD.
  3. ^ IoD Royal Charter Retrieved 29 June 2015
  4. ^ "Our History". Institute of Directors. Archived from the original on 2020-05-29. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  5. ^ "IoD 99: A success story". Director Magazine. 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  6. ^ "IoD Open House 2018". Institute of Directors. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  7. ^ IoD Announces Jonathan Geldart As New Director General Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  8. ^ Lady Judge stirs things up at the UK’s Institute of Directors Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  9. ^ Jones, Rupert (2 September 2018). "Charlotte Valeur succeeds Barbara Judge as IoD chair". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  10. ^ Retrieved 2020-10-02. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Charlotte Valeur steps down as IoD Chair, John Watson appointed Interim | Institute of Directors | IoD". Retrieved 2020-09-21.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′26″N 0°7′54.49″W / 51.50722°N 0.1318028°W / 51.50722; -0.1318028