Institute of Directors

Institute of Directors
Founded 1903 (1903)
Type Professional organisation
Focus Business
Key people
Stephen Martin, Director General

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."

The IoD is located in the 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 30,000 full members. Members of the IoD come from companies of all sizes and from all industries . 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 & Royal Charter

The IoD was founded in 1903 and incorporated by royal charter in 1906.[1] 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 30,000 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.

In order to help address declining membership the IoD 99 was established in 2015. This initiative is aimed at members who under the age of 42, and gives a substantial discount on membership fees. 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

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. Members of the IoD can access the support through online, telephone or face-to-face consultations, are allowed up to 25 different consultations each year.

Training and development

The IoD is one of the country’s most prestigious training providers, and has a range of courses to suit business leaders at every stage 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. [In other countries Certified Director, e.G. in Germany]

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

Initiatives and events

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

Annual Convention

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.

Owing to declining ticket and sponsorship revenues the Annual Convention took a year's break in 2017. It will take on a new look in March 2018, with the format and speaker line-up to be confirmed.

Rhondda Lecture

In 2015, the IoD launched the annual Rhondda Lecture, in honour of 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

Director Magazine

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 & key people

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 is the current Director General, having succeeded Simon Walker in October 2016.

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.[2]

Internationally there are different organizations with the same target. In Germany, the "Deutsches Institut der Aufsichtsräte" exists as an active non profit organization.

116 Pall Mall

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 Services Club. The building was designed by John Nash, the 19th-century architect who also designed the Brighton Pavilion and Marble Arch, and constructed between 1826-28.

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.


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