Until relatively recently, the menopause has been discussed very little in public, let alone in workplaces. Often seen as a strictly ‘women’s issue’, many men – and younger women – are simply oblivious to the often-debilitating symptoms of the menopause.
This is beginning to change, however – thanks to high profile celebrities such as DJ Jo Whiley, Mariella Frostrup and Davina McCall talking openly about the mental and physical effects (aside from the well-known hot flushes) that the menopause can bring. In fact, Davina McCall and Mariella Frostrup have joined forces with other high-profile women to raise awareness and lobby the government to increase provision for women going through the menopause.
Menopause in the workplace is increasingly under the spotlight too; recent research by the Fawcett Society shows that in the UK, around 10 per cent of women who worked during the menopause had to leave their job due to their symptoms. If mapped across the UK population, that equates to around 330,000 people. In a shifting job market where good employees are becoming highly prized, this alone is something employers should be concerned about.
The research also highlighted that eight out of ten women said their employer hadn’t shared information, trained staff, or put in place a menopause absence policy. Clearly, employers have work to do to create an understanding culture and earn trust, so that those affected feel they can talk to their line managers about it.
So, what does a workplace that’s supportive of menopausal women help look like? For Fiona Gordon, CEO of Ogilvy, it includes providing GP advice and wellbeing coaching, as well as raising awareness for all employees to support all of those with menopausal symptoms.
However, since the majority of business leaders are male, men need to take action if there’s going to be a real difference in the workplace. ‘This shouldn’t simply be seen as a women’s issue,’ says Tim Ponsford, Regional Director at People Puzzles. ‘Employers can’t abscond responsibility and pretend it’s not their problem too. If you think about it sooner rather than later, you’ll be less likely to have a discrimination case on your hands later on.’
Tim adds: ‘It’s not just about having a policy and process in place, it’s also about having a culture where people feel empowered, valued, and protected. If business leaders start talking about issues such as the menopause, it creates a culture where people feel more comfortable talking about it.’
People Puzzles often works with businesses to help them become more inclusive places to work. Creating a culture that supports women is all part of that work. If you’d like us to help with this and keep valuable talent in the business, call us on 020 3633 6830.