ROLE models for women in business are still too rare, not least in Britain. Last November an independent review backed by the government urged FTSE 100 companies to raise the share of women on their boards from 27% to 33% by 2020. Sadly, that push this week lost one of its leading champions, Helen Alexander, the deputy chair of the review.
Business had no better ambassador. She was self-effacing but a world-class networker—a winning combination that helps to explain, along with her intelligence and charm, why all sorts of firms flocked to have her on their board (from Northern Foods to Centrica, Rolls-Royce and the British arm of Huawei), to advise them (Bain Capital) or to chair them (the Port of London Authority and, more recently, UBM, an events business). In 2009 she became the first woman to be president of the Confederation of British Industry, the country’s main employers’ group.