David Cameron (2)

Businesses of all sizes need to be considering the implications of the EU referendum, and whether or not to go public with their intentions, according to the Institute of Directors (IoD).

Following a speech made by Prime Minister David Cameron at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in which he called for businesses to show their support for campaign to remain part of a reformed EU, the IoD is warning businesses that they can't shy away from the debate.

"First and foremost, they [businesses] have a duty to their shareholders, employees and customers to be discussing the implications of the vote at the most senior levels," said Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the IoD.

"We are concerned that not all businesses are preparing themselves sufficiently for the UK’s most significant political and economic decision for a generation."

David Cameron had previously urged businesses not to reveal their thoughts on the referendum until the outcome of his reform negotiations are clear.

Ms Renison added: “The vote is going to happen, and businesses need to work out how the result will affect their operations and begin planning accordingly. Discussions should cover everything from dealing with any uncertainty in the run-up to the vote, assessing how any reforms David Cameron secures will affect them, and preparing for the possibility of Brexit. These are complex issues, with a host of factors – known and unknown. But that is no excuse for not talking about the issue. While both campaigns will be hard at work trying to get businesses to make public statements supporting their side, ultimately the decision must be up to the firms themselves.

“Businesses want to see the Prime Minister pushing reforms to make the EU more economically competitive, including taking the shears to unnecessary regulation. With half of IoD members saying their vote in the referendum depends on what reforms David Cameron is able to achieve, his full focus now must be on the negotiations with other EU states.”