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Is your workplace menopause friendly?

October 18, 2023

How supportive of those going through the menopause is your workplace? If that’s you, you’ll know if colleagues understand when symptoms like brain fog, tiredness, joint pain and irritability impact your work. Or whether your manager is comfy discussing how you are and what would help. But if you’ve not reached menopause yet, or you never will, it’s possible the question hasn’t crossed your mind.

The economic and ethical case for menopause-friendly workplaces

The CIPD sets out the case for why we should think about menopause-friendly workplaces in their 2021 Submission to the Women and Equalities Select Committee:

“Women in the age bracket typically experiencing menopause transition are the fastest-growing employee group in the labour market. They are also typically at the peak of their careers, representing a highly skilled and experienced talent pool. The level of support that women receive at this stage of their working life can be pivotal in facilitating their continued economic participation. According to CIPD research, three in five (59%) working women between the ages of 45 and 55 with menopause symptoms have said that it has a negative impact on them at work; three in ten (30%) said they had been unable to go into work because of their symptoms, but only a quarter of them felt able to tell their manager the real reason for their absence.”

No-one wants to be part of these statistics or see it happening to people you work with or are close to.

Why this matters to me

I’m committed to removing barriers to happiness and success at work, and menopausal symptoms in an unsupportive environment can make for really hard work.

Plus, I’m 51, bang on the average age in the UK for a woman’s periods to stop so it’s pretty forefront of my mind!

These two factors have led me into providing space in their working day for menopausal women to come together for mutual support. Leading these groups, I’ve heard some of the human stories behind the CIPD statistics.

Today, 18th October, is World Menopause Day. Numerous events take place to raise awareness about the impact this transition has on the lives of women around the world and I’m excited to be running one of them!

I’m hosting an event for CAMFED, the Campaign for Female Education. CAMFED is deeply committed to serving the most vulnerable girls in rural Africa, ensuring they can learn and thrive in school, and grow up to be independent and influential. The organisation is fully aware that its accountability to girls rests on the wellbeing and productivity of its team members, so it’s putting time and resources into initiatives to make sure its employees would recognise the menopause if it started to affect them or someone they care about.

How you can help make a difference

Here are some ideas of things we can all do to make work one less thing to worry about for women going through this transition.

Everyone can learn about the menopause and its impacts so you can show real understanding.

Leaders can:

  • Develop menopause-friendly policies and practices, like flexible work times and rest spaces.
  • Promote awareness and understanding through initiatives like Menopause Cafés.
  • Role model talking about menopause or your own wellbeing.

Line managers can:

  • Be alert to symptoms, not just in 45-55 year olds, but younger women and some transgender and non-binary people too.
  • Be aware of relevant policies and think about changes that can be made to help people manage their symptoms around their job.
  • Build good relationships and skill in having sensitive conversations so people feel it’s normal and safe to discuss their wellbeing with you.

Colleagues can:

  • Check in with your co-workers, really listening when they say how they are.
  • Encourage them to speak up about helpful changes or signpost them to advice like Employee Assistance services.
  • Champion initiatives that build a culture of support for everyone’s wellbeing.

Pre-menopausal women can:

  • Track your cycle and get to know what’s normal for you so you notice any changes (some menopause symptoms can seriously dent your confidence if you don’t realise there’s a natural explanation for them!)
  • Ask people you trust about their experiences
  • Find out about helpful lifestyle changes like nutrition, exercise and managing stress.

Menopausal women can:

  • Connect with others going through this transition.
  • Challenge stigmas by being more open about your wellbeing.
  • Speak up about changes at work that would help you. (“This is what I’m experiencing > This is the impact it’s having > This is what would help > How can we help that to happen”)

If anything here strikes a chord, I’m happy to chat, whichever of these categories you fit into. Please get in touch and I’ll see what I can do to help or signpost you to the many resources available.

About me

I’m Celia Clark. I’m a career development coach based in the dreaming spires of Oxford. I help you think clearly about your job, in all its ups and downs, so you can be happy and successful in your work.

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