I recently joined Protocol as HR & Partnerships Director and pleasingly one of the first conversations I had was about the menopause! It quickly struck me, as I looked around the office, that we have a largely female workforce (65%). The average age of the women who work at Protocol is 32 and we have a cluster of women in the usual menopausal age bracket (47-55).
The conversation I had was easy and natural. It came up in a meeting with a colleague that was experiencing menopausal symptoms. It was a relief to share, and I took heart that this was an open and friendly environment. It got me thinking about how, at Protocol, we should support our female colleagues, and I started wondering just how well informed our staff are about the menopause? So, I wrote our Menopause Policy which was approved and implemented swiftly.
Sadly, my experience at Protocol is not the case for a lot of women in work and it has been proven time and time again that our workplaces, and specifically our line managers within our workplaces, are not geared up to support women experiencing the menopause.
By 2025 there will be 1 billion women in the world experiencing menopause, which is roughly 12% of the world population. Women over 50 are now the fastest growing proportion of the workforce, but they are often subjected to stereotypical assumptions and conversations about their performance at work.
According to the CIPD, 3 out of 5 working women between 45 and 55 are suffering due to menopause symptoms and a third of these have taken time off work. What’s more concerning is the fact that a quarter of these women say they cannot discuss the reasons for their absence because their manager is not supportive.
The Equality Act (2010) protects women against workplace discrimination because of their sex or their age. Other pieces of legislation also place a general duty on employers around the health, safety, and welfare of their workers. So, comprehensive workplace laws which take account of menopause transition are already in place in the UK and the legal case for organisational attention to the menopause transition is clear.
It would be great if today of all days, on World Menopause Day 2021, you could check in with your colleagues and see how they are feeling about the menopause. Have the conversation and ask what your organisation is doing to support you and your colleagues?
As for me – my experience of the menopause has been a roller coaster – some days have been worse than others. I’ve been perimenopausal for what seems like ages, and I mostly liken it to the endless cries from the back of the car, when I was on long journeys with my two sons of ‘are we nearly there yet!’. In my 40’s I looked ahead to this time with an inevitable sigh, but I am lucky to have two older sisters, friends, and a supportive family around me who told me the scare stories, fed me with information and given me room to breathe. I know it’s not like that for others and so today I’m taking up the challenge to push for workplace awareness and focus on my organisation’s approach, for the sake of the fabulous women who work at Protocol.
You’re welcome to download the Template Menopause Policy here and adapt it to suit your organisation.