Institute of Directors

The Institute of Directors (IoD) is a British professional 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 Royal Charter charged the IoD with promoting free enterprise, lobbying government and setting standards for corporate governance. [2]

Institute of Directors
Founded1903 (1903)
TypeProfessional organisation
FocusBusiness leaders
Headquarters116 Pall Mall
London, SW1
United Kingdom
Director General
Jonathan Geldart[1]

The IoD is located in a Grade I listed building at 116 Pall Mall in London, 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 20,000 full members,[3] with membership stabilising year on year.[4] Members of the IoD come from companies of all sizes and from all industries.[5] Around 70% are self-employed or work for small and medium-sized enterprises, while 78% of FTSE 100 companies have an IoD member on their board or in a senior management position.

History and royal charter

The IoD was founded in 1903 and incorporated by royal charter in 1906.[6] Its mission statement 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 to speak on behalf of the business community and discuss individual companies in public.

There are currently over 20,000 IoD members in the UK and overseas. Anybody who has an interest in business, is running a business, is self-employed, sits on a board or runs their own company can join the IoD.


The IoD represents its members and makes the case for good corporate governance 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 company directors.


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. 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

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 6,500 people take part in an IoD course every year.[4] 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

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

The Annual Convention was the flagship IoD event and a fixture of the business calendar, historically taking place at the Royal Albert Hall each year. It drew some of the biggest business names and politicians and leaders from across the world. Until 2016, the convention had 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.

After a year's hiatus, the event was last held in March 2018 billed as "IoD Open House", a three-day business festival held at 116 Pall Mall.[7]

Rhondda Lecture

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

Director was a business and lifestyle magazine for business leaders. It was circulated bi-monthly, free to IoD members and available to purchase through subscription. It contained interviews with business leaders and politicians, updates from the IoD, debates on topical issues, reviews and features. In October 2017 the magazine was cut back to six issues per year, and stopped being printed during the Coronavirus pandemic for sustainability reasons.

Structure and key people

Coat of arms of the
Institute of Directors
CrestIssuant from a circlet Or with eight thrift flowers leaved proper on the rim a pair of scales Gules behind the pivot a compass card as in the arms.
BlazonArgent on a pale Ermine between a castle of three towers and an argosy in full sail Sable a cross and in the first quarter a sword erect Or on a chief Gules a compass card Gold.
SupportersOn the dexter side a lion Or gorged with a collar Gules charged with [three] bezants and on the sinister side a dragon Gold winged Argent the underside of the wing charged with a cross Gules.
MottoIntegrity and Enterprise[8]

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.

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.[9] In September 2018, she left the organisation under controversial accusations of racism and bullying. She was succeeded by Charlotte Valeur[10] 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.[11] Patrick Macdonald was appointed as the new chair in March 2021.[12]

Stephen Martin was the director-general until early 2019, having succeeded Simon Walker in October 2016. Stephen Martin was a vocal supporter of Brexit and following his sudden exit from the IoD in January 2019 just two month's before the UK's scheduled exited the EU Jonathan Geldart was appointed as the IoD's new director-general in October 2019.[1]

116 Pall Mall

Front entrance of 116 Pall Mall

The IoD occupies 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. Everett, Steve (1 October 2019). "IoD Announces Jonathan Geldart As New Director General". Yorkshire Business Daily. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  2. "About IoD". Institute of Directors. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  3. "2021 Annual Report" (PDF). 1 July 2022. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  4. "IoD Annual Report 2021" (PDF).
  5. "Annual report". Institute of Directors. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  6. IoD Royal Charter Retrieved 29 June 2015
  7. "IoD Open House 2018". Institute of Directors. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  8. "Institute of Directors". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  9. "Lady Judge stirs things up at the UK’s Institute of Directors", The Financial Times. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  10. Jones, Rupert (2 September 2018). "Charlotte Valeur succeeds Barbara Judge as IoD chair". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  11. Wehner, Piers (24 August 2020). "IoD ousted Valeur over plans to quit Pall Mall". Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  12. "IoD appoints Patrick Macdonald as new chair". Institute of Directors. Retrieved 4 October 2022.

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