There have been many studies in recent years focusing on menopause in the workplace – so why conduct another? We wanted to create an asset that not only provided a snapshot of menopause and work in 2023, but combined commentary from a wide range of experts in the field, to provide insight and guidance on creating menopause-friendly work environments.
We also want to honour the menopause. Rather than it being seen as a negative health issue that needs to be mitigated, we believe that the process can be a special, unique experience – and that midlife women can provide huge benefits to organisations, and they should be actively recruited.
The menopause is a complex event which can display many different facets depending on the individual and their environment. This, combined with a stigma which has lasted for generations, makes it a difficult topic to discuss both formally and informally. In recent years there has been growing awareness of menopause. Increasingly women are being encouraged to open up about issues and discuss the changes and effects which happen to them. Many businesses – with the help of expert consultants – are rolling out menopause policies, and working to create a culture that promotes openness when it comes to menopause.
However, the fact that there is no single menopause experience makes it complicated for workplaces to put in place a simple “best practice” policy which covers everyone. Our research found that only one in 10 working women aged 45 plus definitely know that their company has a menopause policy. 50 percent said there definitely wasn’t a policy, and 40 percent have no clue either way.
And one in 20 women over the age of 45 have had symptoms which caused major difficulties at work. 10 percent have had symptoms which caused moderate difficulties and 27 percent had slight issues. This variance also disguises the fact that women have been encouraged to play down symptoms – and “not make a fuss” for many years. On average, in fact, women over 45 will only take a single day off a year due to menopausal symptoms, and nearly half (49 percent) of women aged 45 and over would not feel comfortable talking to a line manager about menopausal symptoms.
So what employers do to support, retain and recruit people with menopause? 63 percent of those polled believe that menopause should now be a protected characteristic of the Equality Act. Employers should make sure they have steps, procedures and support in place to help staff affected by menopause. This would mean less people leaving the labour market – and also improve lives and outcomes for the entire country.
While our study has shown that many employees are not getting the support they need, increasingly organisations are getting it right, using empathy and lateral thinking to foster menopause friendly work cultures.
To read our full report, including comment from a range of experts, click here.