How One Woman Achieved Her Work-Life Balance As A Working Mother In Business

Long gone are the days where women had to choose between having a family and having a career. Many women are now choosing to do both – striving for a successful career, while also having children and a strong family unit at home – but creating a work-life balance isn’t always straightforward. 

Research carried out by The Office for National Statistics found that from 1996 to 2017, the number of women with dependent children in either full-time or part-time work had increased by more than a million. Whilst this could be due to changes in the economic climate, or down to more encouragement and support available to new mothers looking to get back into the job market, the importance of having a healthy work-life balance still remains. 

The ever-evolving definition of work-life balance – especially transformed by the arrival of Millennials in the workplace – now recognizes the mental and physical consequences of working in an unbalanced workplace environment, and many businesses are starting to place a higher value on this.

Debbie Lentz, President of Global Supply Chain at RS Components and the Electrocomponents Group, is one of these ambitious women; as a mother of two children alongside holding a senior position at a FTSE 250 company, achieving a robust work-life balance has been at the top of Debbie’s priority list from the outset of her career.

What does Debbie owe her healthy work-life balance to, and what tips and opportunities does she want to pass on to working mothers striving to thrive in every aspect of their lives?

Maintaining transparency with your employer – tell them what you want!

How many hope for changes within various elements of their job and working environment, but fail to be vocal about it? It’s likely to be many more people than you’d expect. 

Your line manager is in a position to clear the way for you to progress within your role and provide you with the resources and support you need in order to have the best work-life balance possible. With research by PwC revealing that 58% of women say employers need to provide greater transparency to improve career opportunities, being open with your line manager about what you need from them will accelerate the scope for a healthier and more positive balance to fall into place. 

This is a topic that Debbie is passionate about and, reflecting on her career so far, believes she owes a large aspect of her work-life balance to being vocal about her wishes for her career and her family:

“Being noisy within a company, when done with good intentions, is something all working mothers should be looking to do. For many of us, voicing our aspirations within a company makes us feel awkward or like we’re being a nuisance – but this simply isn’t the case. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, after all!

“As a working parent, having open and honest conversations with your line manager could have a huge improvement on your work-life balance. As an employee, your senior team will value you, your work and the impact you have on the organisation. In turn, that means it’s their responsibility to make sure you’re happy within your role. As a working mother, it can be difficult to admit if you’re struggling to maintain the work and home life balance, but it’s important to remember that it’s valuable for the both of you to have this transparency”.  

Prioritize each aspect of your life

When we talk about our priorities, it’s usually in the context of our workload or our to-do list. Take some time to set out the true priorities for your life – what’s most important for you? Whilst for some it may be to get to the top of the career ladder, for others it may be a desire to be in the best financial situation possible for those dependent on you. 

With any employer-employee relationship, it’s critical that there’s trust in order to have open communication where life priorities and aspirations can be shared freely.

Talking about her personal priorities for her and her family, Debbie shares:

“I had made it known to my senior management team that I would love to be based internationally. This was a development for not only myself, but for my children too – I wanted them to experience diversity which, for an American like myself, was quite unusual at the time. 

“Making this plan for my family’s life was fruitful; one of the most impactful moves I made – both career-wise and for my family – was to move to Switzerland where we lived for three and a half years. My children were able to experience a Swiss international school of which my company at the time covered the costs.”

The key thing here is to avoid comparison; your friends, colleagues and other people within your industry may have entirely different priorities to you – that doesn’t make yours any less valid, or mean that you’re falling behind. No matter if you’ve always aspired to be a mother, or been working towards owning a business since high-school, our life aspirations are what make us unique – and there’s no right or wrong path.

It’s also interesting to see that it’s not only women who are wanting to start better prioritizing their work-life balance; Maria Miller MP, Chairwoman of the Commons women and equalities select committee, revealed that “more than half of millennial fathers want to shift to a less stressful job because they find it difficult to balance work and family life”. 

Building a support network at work and at home 

A support network can come from a number of different avenues; close family and friends, senior managers and colleagues at work and, often, an external mentor too. 

The value of a support network shouldn’t be neglected; whether it’s having someone to help you hold yourself accountable without judgement, or someone who will help you with last-minute childcare, having the support of a group of people will enable you to keep your work-life balance in check. 

Reflecting on her personal experiences with her own support network, Debbie says:

“There’s no doubt that you can have a family and a career – but you need a strong support system. It can be exhausting, but it can be done. For me, choosing to go back to work after having a child wasn’t an easy decision, but there were things I did to make sure I had balance and my support network played a big part on this. 

“For example, my partner moved office to be closer to home and, over time, stopped working in order to be a full-time parent and I would always work to ensure I could be home for family dinner time. When it came to traveling for work, I made the most of opportunities where my family could come too – a conference I once had at Disney World was an amazing experience for them, and I could spend time with them in the evenings”. 

What a healthy work-life balance looks like will be different for every working mother; some may continue to seek career progression alongside having a young family, whilst others’ priorities may lie in financial stability. However, with 48% of new mothers saying they were overlooked for career advancement because they had children, it emphasizes that there’s a need for each individual to make their own personal priorities and balance – both at work and at home.

Debbie Lentz joined Electrocomponents plc, a global multi-channel provider of industrial and electronic products and solutions, as the President of Global Supply Chain in 2017. Debbie is responsible for leading the further development of the Group’s supply chain capability to provide an innovative and sustainable market-leading service for customers and suppliers. RS Components is a trading brand of Electrocomponents plc, a global multi-channel provider of industrial and electronic products and solutions. We offer more than 500,000 industrial and electronics products, sourced from over 2,500 leading suppliers, and provide a wide range of value-added services to over one million customers. With operations in 32 countries, we ship more than 50,000 parcels a day.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.