Menopause is not just a gender or age issue; it is an organisational issue which can impact colleagues both directly and indirectly. Awareness around this topic is key to reducing the stigma attached to menopause and encouraging people to talk more openly about it.
Considering TALiNT Partners’ recent research on the Clash of the Cultures, where the ways various organisations across the talent ecosystem are managing the return to in-person work were explored, how are companies supporting women experiencing menopause, if flexible working isn’t on offer?
Menopause is a natural stage of life for women, but it often remains a taboo subject in the workplace. In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the need for employers to support women experiencing menopause symptoms. This support is crucial not only for the wellbeing of female employees but also for fostering an inclusive and diverse work environment.
Flexible working as a lifeline
Flexible working arrangements have been a lifeline for women going through menopause. Symptoms of menopause can make it challenging for women to perform at their best during traditional office hours. To address this, many employers have embraced flexible working policies that allow women to adjust their working hours, work remotely, or even take time off when needed.
Nick Henderson-Mayo, Head of D&I at compliance and diversity and inclusion training provider, VinciWorks spoke exclusively to TALiNT International about how important it is to discuss the importance of menopause leave, even though some corporate cultures make it unpleasant and difficult – so much so that it’s avoided all together.
“With over 900,000 women having left their jobs due to menopause, it’s more important than ever for organisations to take this issue seriously.
Nick said, “Menopause leave isn’t a complicated change to introduce. It can be as simple as allowing home or hybrid working on-demand or dropping the bureaucratic and outdated need for employees to bring medical certificates every time they have an appointment or are dealing with symptoms. Firms can also consider menopause a health-related issue and allow employees experiencing symptoms to go through the reasonable adjustments route. It’s not that hard to become menopause friendly. And it starts by talking about it.
“Making work more inclusive for all employees is not a zero-sum game. When employers begin to recognise that making small policy changes can significantly benefit staff retention, positivity, health and wellbeing, menopause leave is a no-brainer.”
Promoting an inclusive work culture is imperative for staff retention and attraction
Beyond flexible working, employers are actively working to create a more inclusive culture where discussing menopause is not stigmatised. This involves training for managers and HR personnel to help them understand menopause better and be more empathetic toward female employees experiencing symptoms.
Beyond flexible working, employers are actively working to create a more inclusive culture where discussing menopause is not stigmatised
Mentorship programmes and support groups are emerging to connect women experiencing menopause symptoms with experienced colleagues who can provide advice and encouragement. This also helps to break down the isolation that can sometimes accompany menopause.
Challenges of returning to in-person work
However, as TALiNT Partners’ network revealed, many organisations are mandating a return to in-person work. This presents new challenges for women who may have been thriving under flexible working arrangements in the last few years.
“Thanks to Davina McCall (and others), it is now much more acceptable to talk about the effects of the menopause for many women. As employers grapple with issues around workplace flexibility, for a significant proportion of the workforce this is another factor to consider. There isn’t a one size fits all approach, but employers with inclusion at the heart of what they do will find this much easier to get right than those that don’t,” commented Ken Brotherston, CEO at TALiNT Partners.
The role of leadership
Leadership plays a crucial role in driving these changes. Organisations with senior leaders and managers who actively advocate for women experiencing menopause and support the implementation of inclusive policies are more likely to succeed in creating a menopause-friendly workplace.
In her podcast, The Business Case for becoming menopause friendly and what leaders can do, Thea O’Connor talks about the importance of leadership support. “At the age that women begin experiencing menopause, they’re heading into the peak of their careers and inevitably in senior roles. Small workplace adjustments can help a woman fulfil her career potential!”