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Are quotas the answer to getting more women into boardroom posts?

In a recent speech to London think-tank Chatham House, human rights lawyer Cherie Blair claimed that the government must 'dramatically accelerate' plans to get women into a quarter of boardroom posts by 2015. So what's the answer to getting more women into top jobs?

Among FTSE 100 companies, women hold just 14.2 per cent of director's posts - up from 12.5 per cent in 2010. Experts have argued over the years whether positive discrimination, such as through the imposition of quotas, is the answer to boosting women's profile in key management positions.

While keen to put pressure on companies to get more women onto their boards, the coalition government has stopped short of imposing specific quotas for women. Quotas have been successful in recent parliamentary elections in Tunisia, where at least 50 per cent of party candidates had to be women - leading to women making up 24 per cent of the constituent assembly. However, there are suggestions that quotas can also be counter-productive, with Mrs Blair conceding that positive discrimination can sometimes serve to undermine women's progress by breeding resentment and leading to accusations of tokenism.

Tackling gender equality in the workplace can be a thorny issue. Acas has a network of specialist equality and diversity advisers who can examine your current policies and practices with you, recommend improvements, help put them in place and provide training. Acas experts can also assist with equal opportunities policies, recruitment systems, monitoring and targets, training programmes and how to deal with harassment.

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