Menopause in the Workplace: Breaking the Silence
A lot of the focus when discussing the causes of the Gender Pay Gap is on part-time work, fewer and lower-paid female managers, and career choices influenced by family responsibilities. But little is said about the impact of the menopause.
Menopause is a natural phase in every woman's life, and its effects can be profound, affecting physical and emotional wellbeing. It is essential that employers are prepared to be proactive and act with compassion, to retain valuable female staff, close the gender pay gap, and foster a supportive work environment.
Menopause at Work
Menopause can bring about a range of physical and emotional symptoms, from hot flushes and joint pain to anxiety and memory issues. These symptoms can significantly impact a woman's physical health, confidence in her role and relationships with colleagues and clients. As women experience menopause in their late 40s and early 50s, it can coincide with a crucial phase in their careers, affecting their performance and potential for career progression, therefore increasing ‘the gap’.
Facts About Menopause
Women over 50 represent the fastest-growing workplace demographic.
Women are staying in work for longer with the average age of labour market exit being 64.3.
The menopause can last from four to twelve years.
With an aging workforce, it’s easy to see how the impact of menopause on women could impact an organisation's attempts to close the gender pay gap if they do not put measures in place to support them.
Almost a million women in the UK have left their jobs because of menopausal symptoms. Countless others are discriminated against, denied support, and openly mocked
There has been a surge in successful employment tribunals sighting discrimination due to treatment when experiencing menopausal symptoms, falling under one/or all of the protected characteristic of age, sex, and/or disability under the Equality Act 2010.
Supporting Menopause in the Workplace
Studies show that 2 in 3 UK employees feel uncomfortable discussing menopause with their boss.
We need to change the narrative here and create a positive, open environment whereby menopause is no longer a taboo. Employers have a duty to create an environment where women feel they can talk about the impact of menopause on them at work, and what support they need, and where managers and staff are educated about symptoms and support.
How can employers support employees going through menopause?
Review your culture: As mentioned above foster an environment where menopause can be discussed openly and without stigma. Ensure that senior leaders are engaged in menopause awareness and education.
Implement Menopause Policies and Practices: Develop clear policies and guidelines that outline support mechanisms for menopausal employees. Communicate these policies effectively to ensure they have a positive impact on the workforce.
Provide Training and Education: Equip colleagues, managers, and support teams with the knowledge and skills to understand and support menopausal employees. Integrate menopause awareness into training plans.
Flexible Working Arrangements: Offer flexible working hours and shift changes to accommodate menopausal women's needs. Consider adjustments for sleep disturbances and sudden leave requirements.
Encourage Open Conversations: Provide multiple channels for employees to seek support, ensuring they feel comfortable discussing their concerns.
Consider highlighting menopause as part of wider health and wellbeing awareness campaigns. This will indicate to staff that you are sensitive to different experiences and that it’s not something they should feel embarrassed about.
Demonstrating care for employees by fostering a menopause-friendly environment is both ethically right and responsible. Embracing the challenges of menopause and proactively supporting women will undoubtedly lead to a stronger, more diverse, and thriving workforce, boosting wellbeing, job satisfaction and candidate attraction. Not only that, you'll also be contributing to closing the Gender Pay Gap and retaining women in senior positions.