Business dinners ‘not inclusive for women’, CBI head claims

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The first female head of the CBI has labeled business dinners as ‘not very inclusive’ for women, in her first interview. Carolyn Fairbairn said she rarely stayed to the end of corporate dinners because she was bringing up her three children.


“Many women would rather go home to their families in the evening, maybe the business dinner is a vestige of old business life,”  Fairbairn commented.

An alternative, she said, might be to host an early evening discussion panel, hold a proper debate, and then people can go home by 7.30pm.

She also used the interview to commend efforts to get more women onto city boards. “There has been good progress on reaching the 25 percent target of women on boards, but there is a long way to go, especially among senior management,” she added.

The new CBI director general also expressed confidence that Europe would not tear the employers’ group apart.Campaigners have criticised the CBI for being too pro-EU, but Mrs Fairbairn said most of its members “want to stay in a reformed European Union”.

Fairbairn was also optimistic about the growth of the UK economy, as long as issues such as productivity, skills and infrastructure were confronted.

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  1. It’s unfortunate that so many articles seem to generalise in their assumption that women have childcare priorities. This headline appears to be about the subset of women who are mothers of dependent children. I know plenty of fathers who would prefer or need to be with their families in the evening too. Personally, as a female business owner without children, evening events definitely have their place for learning and networking without eating into fee-earning business hours. It’s a matter of work-life choice for all of us so let’s not make assumptions on gender alone.

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