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"Don't let society make you choose between being a parent and being a leader..."

Sarah, in the office.

Sarah Clark

Sarah is head of service delivery for Home Group in Yorkshire

I’m a woman in leadership and an older, single mum with a diverse and unconventional family unit. I’ve never married and always wanted children, so when I got to my early 40s, I started exploring options around becoming a parent.

I decided to adopt as a single person. It was a challenging process; they scrutinised every aspect of my life.

I went down a route called early permanence, where I agreed to foster a new born baby with a view to adopting them, but only if later agreed by a judge.

I’m quite a risk averse person so to take that risk was an unusual move for me. My manager and Home Group were fantastic in supporting me and were flexible with short notice leave so I could attend all the meetings relating to the adoption.

Sarah, in the office.

I have always had a great social life but often felt judged as a single older woman. I was just back from holiday when I saw the email from my social worker about a baby that was due just four days later!

Within a week I was off work for 14 months and when I got back my flexible working request was accepted to allow for my new home responsibilities. Work life balance has always been important to me and even more so now.

In a few years’ time I’ll want to pursue my career further.

My mum is my role model; she was always a feminist and challenged norms. She had a strong sense of social justice and really inspired me and helped me build confidence.

I want people to read my story and not be afraid to reach and aspire. Don’t let society make you choose between being a parent and being a leader; you can do both – well!

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