Breaking the Menopause Taboo: Empowering Businesses for a Menopause-Aware Workplace

Published: Saturday, 28 October, 2023

It's more important than ever for businesses to be aware and savvy about menopause.

The LGA recently updated that almost 8 out of 10 menopausal women are in work. Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace. 14 million working days are lost to menopause each year in the UK.

Not only are there clear financial and productivity drivers, but there are also strong legal and ethical imperatives to being menopause aware. More and more businesses  rightly spend more time and effort thinking about staff wellbeing and understanding more clearly how work and personal life overlap differently for each individual. This is the right thing for responsible employers to do.

We all – business and individual alike – need to educate ourselves as much as possible. A recent study by University College London has found that more than 90% of postmenopausal women were never taught about the menopause at school and over 60% only started looking for information about it once their symptoms had started.

It remains extraordinary that something that directly affects half the world's population should be so encumbered by mystery and shame, but it is. I often hear from women who have internalised the taboo surrounding menopause and want to bury their head in the sand. I don’t blame them... and I have been one of them.

The list of possible symptoms is alarming, and it’s important to be aware of them as menopause doesn't announce itself. The definition of being menopausal is 12 months without a period - but many other effects of the hormonal changes creep up bit by bit. The NHS has helpful information on menopause and perimenopause symptoms.

Remember too that not everyone experiencing menopausal symptoms will be assigned female at birth - so our conversations and workplace policies need to reflect everyone's reality without assumption or judgement.

One way we can help spread intelligence on menopause is to call it by its name - not "the change" (sometimes mouthed silently) or "time of life" or "lady of a certain age." These euphemisms pretend to keep us safe, but they keep us stuck in shame and denial.

 

The most important thing to remember is that you're not alone. Literally everyone is affected by menopause - as a child or partner, friend or relative of a woman or someone experiencing menopause symptoms.

Talk to people in and out of work and find out what your organisation has in place.  Ask your questions and listen to others' answers. Follow champions and allies such as the new Menopause Employment Champion Helen Tomlinson.

Thresholds are hosting a free menopause in the workplace event, which I will be hosting:

Click here to register your place

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