Andrea Riley, Ally Financial's chief marketing officer, made a vow before her son's senior year in high school last year.
"I said to my whole team at the beginning of the year: 'He's a hockey player, 45 games. I'm not missing a game,'" said Riley, 50.
That meant she often had to leave meetings early. She flew home mid-business trip and flew back after the game. It was important to be there for her son and, as a leader, to help create a culture at Ally that supports a work-life balance.
"It set a tone for my team, especially for the other women," Riley said. "You really have to have the bravery to just do the things that are important to you."
The 10 Leading Women who took part in an Automotive News roundtable this summer agreed that striking a work-life balance is a challenge for men and women. But they say men are less honest about it, creating the impression that women have a special need.
Many women in senior positions say they have made career sacrifices for their families. But in doing so, they also felt that as leaders they were helping to shape a culture for the next generation, one that allows employees to set boundaries.
FCA executive Marissa Hunter, 41, said there are two components to a work-life balance.
"The first are the programs or parameters that your organization is going to put in place," said Hunter, FCA US' director of brand advertising and head of advertising for Ram. "Call it institutionalized work-life balance. The other side of it, especially as women, is to give yourself permission to balance your life."