Carolyn Fairbairn

The new director general of the CBI, who is also the first ever female head of the business lobby group, has criticised business dinners, describing them as "not very inclusive" for women.

Carolyn Fairbairn, who took over from John Cridland following the CBI's Annual Conference earlier this month, said she has "never been a fan" of corporate dinners and "a lot of women aren't", explaining that she rarely stays to the end of them because of her three children.

"They'd rather go home to their families in the evening," Ms Fairbairn said. "Maybe the business dinner is a vestige of old business life."

The CBI boss suggested an alternative of an "early evening discussion panel, hold a proper debate, and then people can go home by 7.30pm".

Inspiring women

Ms Fairbairn also said it would be "terrific" if her appointment was to inspire more women to move into the business world.

"There has been good progress on reaching the 25% target of women on boards, but there is a long way to go, especially among senior management," she added.