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Network events are 'not inclusive'

New CBI boss takes shot at ‘male black tie dinners’

Carolyn FairbairnThe first female head of the CBI has asked why so many business networking events are held in the evenings as they not helpful to women with families.

Carolyn Fairbairn, who has held a number of top business posts in her career, said bringing up three children meant she rarely attended an evening business dinner.

She said they were mainly attended by men and therefore were “not very inclusive”.

Giving her first interviews to the media after being appointed director general, she added: “I would rather have an early evening discussion panel, hold a proper debate, and then people can go home by 7.30pm.”

On the broader targets for gender balance in boardrooms, she said: “There has been good progress on reaching the 25 per cent target of women on boards, but there is a long way to go, especially among senior management.”

She also expressed concern over the UK’s poor productivity record compared to the United States and Germany.

Ms Fairbairn, who succeeds John Cridland, repeated her earlier comments that she wants to see the productivity gap between London and the rest of the UK narrow during her five-year term.

She said she was bothered by the growing shortage of skilled workers but hinted at a “truce” on the national living wage by dropping claims that it will cost jobs.

Ms Fairbairn has held a number of senior posts in the media and financial services.

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