Menopause at the Festival of Work

By Deborah Garlick, Director, Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace and Claire McCartney, Co-Director of Inclusive Talent and Associate, CIPD

The menopause is an important workplace issue that affects many employees, and we were delighted that it featured prominently in our series of inclusion workshops at the CIPD Festival of Work. There are now around 4.4 million women aged 50-64 in work (ONS 2019), and the vast majority will go through the menopause transition during their working lives. Now is the time for all employers to take the menopause seriously, raise awareness and put the right support in place. The discussions in the workshop highlighted the enthusiasm to do just this, and the CIPD’s practical resources − launched earlier this year − can help organisations make it happen.

And it’s the right thing to do…

This is not solely a women’s issue; everyone needs to know about menopause. For one, it is a key recruitment and retention opportunity to tap into female talent. We know that 6 in 10 menopausal women have said that it’s had a negative impact on their work, and as many as 1 in 4 consider leaving work altogether. It’s both expensive to fill those gaps and reduces the potential for gender equality.

There is a strong compliance case too, as employers have a duty of care to an employees’ health and well-being. Menopause is covered by the Equality Act 2010, and no one wants to risk employee relations issues or discrimination claims.

Menopause, the facts

There is a general lack of understanding around the menopause and its symptoms. As a result, many women do not realise what they’re actually experiencing is menopause. Everyone’s heard of hot flushes, but the range of symptoms and those that affected women most at work was a surprise too. The outcome from the research done in 2018* highlighted the top symptoms as fatigue and insomnia, hot flushes, difficulty focusing or concentrating, anxiety and problems with recall. It’s easy to understand how these symptoms can affect a woman at work.

The needs are clear and compelling, but it’s still early days in terms of raising awareness and understanding of menopause itself, as well as changing attitudes, culture and support. Imagine how different it would be if conversations about menopause were as natural as this life stage is in every woman’s life.

It’s time for change

The appetite for change is clearly there, but more needs to be done to raisie awareness and develop knowledge. Delegates all enjoyed learning from what leading organisations are already doing, and it helped them think about what they can do in their own organisations. Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace? will be sharing more case studies soon from organisations who have been leading the way for some time on what cultural change can do. Whilst it takes time, it’s worth it. Feedback time and again tells us that employees thank their organisations for enabling them to talk openly about menopause, knowing the support is there if it’s needed.

Building momentum

The CIPD is keen to build momentum around creating menopause-friendly workplaces and we continue to work with our members and regional branches in this area. We are also keen to influence change at a policy level.
We are therefore calling on:
• The Government to tackle the stigma surrounding the menopause at work and raise awareness across businesses. Linking effective support on the menopause to attracting and retaining valuable female talent - often at the peak of their careers, knowledge and skills.
People Professionals to take a proactive approach to the menopause at work through a dedicated policy or plan, while also creating an open, inclusive and supportive culture.
Line managers to brush up on the facts about the menopause and what they can do to support members of their team.

September is Menopause Awareness Month and 18 October 2019 is World Menopause Day.

Download the CIPD’s free menopause guidance and resources here

You can watch the highlights from the CIPD Festival of Work inclusion workshop on how to support colleagues experiencing the menopause in the workplace here.

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