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Women mean business in the boardroom

Can a method of getting more women into the boardroom which worked Down Under, also work in the UK?

The CBI has trumpeted a scheme for getting women into important corporate spots in Australia, and thinks that the same method of setting a 40% target for having women on boards could work here.

CBI president Helen Alexander - who recently addressed a (predominantly male) room of businesspeople at a CBI event in Belfast - said: "Although women make up half of the population and more than half of university graduates, they remain woefully under-represented at board level.

"Schemes such as flexible working, mentoring and networking have helped but making progress at the very top levels of business will require more sophisticated talent management.

"What is needed is cultural change, not quotas, ratios or tokenism."

Ms Alexander is chairman of Incisive Media and of the Port of London Authority.

She holds a string of non-executive directorships including Centrica, Rolls Royce and BT.

Yet many of us draw our experience of women in the boardroom from two extremes - the high-flying, once-in-a-generation successes like Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, or the less-edifying spectacle of feuding females in The Apprentice.

But ideally, the presence of more women at the upper echelons should be something we can take for granted, and something somewhere between those two extremes.