The chief executive of a leading trade body has revealed the “constant guilt” of working long hours while raising her young child, as millions of parents struggle to balance their family lives with the need to work from home.
Speaking to The Juggling Act, a Daily Telegraph podcast, which you can listen to on the audio player above, Emma Pinchbeck said that on some occasions it had been necessary to breastfeed during “meetings with really important stakeholders… like Number 10 Downing Street”.
The boss of Energy UK said that this was sometimes “a distraction for me” and “threw me off my game a bit”.
She added: “I didn’t have a choice about separating the mother part of me and the chief executive part of me in those moments.
“They had to kind of comfortably co-exist and I found that difficult”.
Despite the challenges of working from home with an infant, Ms Pinchbeck said she was afraid she won’t see her daughter for most of the week once she is travelling to the office again because of the demands of her role.
The revelations highlight some of the practical and emotional difficulties of returning to work after having a child and are part of a series of interviews the Daily Telegraph has conducted to explore how high profile women have felt during this transition.
Ms Pinchbeck, 34, also revealed how she interviewed for the role of chief executive when her baby was only three weeks old.
Speaking about the challenges of taking on senior roles in a male-dominated industry, she said: “My organisation recruited me to do things differently. They recruited me when I had a three week old baby, they knew what they were doing… they’ve made all the allowances for me to be able to do my work this way.
“The narrative of female exceptionalism for leadership is unhelpful so I wear my failures as publicly as my successes and my baby as publicly as a suit jacket at the moment.”
Listen to Emma Pinchbeck discuss the challenges of being a working mother on The Telegraph’s new podcast, The Juggling Act, on the audio player at the top of this article, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Join the Telegraph Women Facebook Group to discuss The Juggling Act and more.