Sarah and I have recently been asked to do a talk at an event which deals with lifestyle issues for working women. This made me think about how relevant this was to Sarah and me, our past experiences working in a corporate environment to where we are now.

During the 1990’s – mid 2000’s Sarah and I worked for the same organisation. This was a large blue-chip recruitment company; we started as recruitment consultants and during the 10 years we were employed by this organisation we were both promoted several times and at the time we left were both Directors. The environment was very “work hard/play hard”, we were contracted to work 49 hours a week, often we would regularly work in excess of this, plus travel time. I make no mention of lunchbreaks as if you were known to take lunchbreaks you would not have been in line for promotion.

During Sarah’s ‘return to work meeting’, after having her first child in 2006, she requested whether part time hours would be an option? The part time hours offered were: 4 full days a week, 8.30am – 6pm in the office, covering the offices in Devon and Somerset, sometimes the daily commute would be 1hr 15mins which was to be done in her own time. On her day off the expectation would still be to answer calls when required. Whilst this is what she had excepted it didn’t feel like an option with a 9-month-old baby.

In 2009 I went on maternity leave with my first child. I knew instantly that I wouldn’t be returning to my past employer as I wanted a good work/life balance. I knew the pressures from my employer and the role I would be tasked to perform wouldn’t allow that.

In the meantime, Sarah had started up Legal Southwest. When my daughter was a year old, I joined her and from there, together, we continued to build the business. I feel very lucky that we met one another, that we had a shared vision of building a successful business without compromising how we wanted to bring up our children.

18 years later, Legal Southwest continues to do very well. We are often described by our clients as “their favourite recruiters”! Sarah & I now have 4 beautiful children (2 each).  We were able to find that balance, although, we did have to create our own business as at that time our employer wouldn’t provide it.

As a recruiter I have seen a huge change in employers’ attitudes to working women. Part-time hours and flexible working are the norm. Employers understand the value of providing a work/life balance. Women are able to have career breaks to raise their families without their future careers being penalised.

Not all employers are there yet but I certainly feel employers recognise that it is still women who more often than not need to juggle their work and home life. The view is, that’s ok, and women in the workplace are exceptionally valuable and need to be appreciated.

Well, that’s our story, please do get in touch as we would love to hear yours.