Our History

Our history

We’ve been devoted to cross-sector collaboration and learning for nearly 40 years – since we started life as a secondment scheme for civil servants. Learn how our history has helped make us who we are.

The 1980s

A secondment scheme 

At The Whitehall & Industry Group (WIG), we’ve been bringing people together across sectors for decades.  

But while today we’re an independent, non-lobbying, charity – offering a space to co-operate, collaborate and share knowledge via events, leadership programmes and our talent opportunities – we started life more humbly as a civil service secondment scheme.  

It was 1984, and a time of rapid change for British society. Against this background, WIG was created to help civil servants understand more about industry and how public policy affects business in practice.     

Under the scheme, senior government staff would spend time with businesses to gain essential insight. 

It was a joint initiative between the Cabinet Office and M&S. It also had the support of other private sector organisations, including BP and United Biscuits. 

The late 90s

The shift to membership 

It was 1997 when WIG became a registered charity and membership organisation. This structural change meant that government departments, top FTSE companies and other organisations across the sectors were able to join WIG – and work in partnership with each other in wider ways. 

We started delivering cross-sector leadership development programmes, our programme of events and a non-executive recruitment service for the public sector.   

The 2010s

Expanding to the nfp sector 

From 2010, WIG expanded to include the not-for-profit sector in its activities. Charitable organisations, universities and institutes started to become WIG members. This helped to enrich the opportunities we offer - providing perspectives from academia, research, and relating the impact of policy on the ground.   

We also started managing Charity Next, which had been set up by The Prince’s Charities Foundation in 2008. Charity Next allows future leaders in the public sector to contribute skills and enthusiasm to key posts in the not-for-profit sector – again, to help transfer expertise and encourage cooperation and understanding. 

WIG today 

Tackling the biggest challenges

Today, we continue to help individuals develop their thinking and skills across sectors, through our events, leadership programmes and talent opportunities.  

To help our members tackle some of today’s most prominent challenges, we’ve developed our events programme around seven key themes – allowing leaders and sector professionals to collaborate on the issues of the day. 

Find out more about WIG's offer and services.  

In 2019, we celebrated our 35th anniversary. To mark the occasion, we heard from members about the impact we've had so far: