The menopause affects 13 million women in the UK; around a third of the UK female population — and 3 in 5 menopausal women will experience symptoms at some point throughout the transition. But what exactly are businesses doing to support and empower their employees who are going through the menopause? We found out from a company that’s recently been accredited a ‘Menopause Friendly Workplace’ status.
A lack of awareness or understanding of menopause, even amongst women themselves, remains a key issue in the UK, with a number of charities and high-profile individuals — including Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh — playing their part to raise awareness. But beyond this, there’s the important issue of education and support within the workplace.
The menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 — a time when many women are at the peak of their career and moving into leadership positions. It’s also the point at which a number of women exit the workforce, leading to valuable talent and opportunities being lost. Research by Bupa found that nearly 1 million women in the UK had left their jobs because of their menopause symptoms.
Further to this, 45% of women say they feel that menopausal symptoms have had a negative impact on their work, with 47% admitting to not telling their employer the real reason for needing a day’s leave, when dealing with symptoms.
As awareness grows, more and more businesses are implementing policies and support systems to help their employees through all stages of the menopause. Moody’s, a leading risk assessment organisation, have made several changes to ensure employees — both women and men — feel supported in their work, whether they’re going through the menopause directly, or know someone who is.
This film is paid for and controlled by Moody’s. It is produced by the ITN Business commercial team and is not created by ITN news staff journalists.
“I went through my own menopause journey and thought, ‘Good grief, how on earth did I sleep-walk into this?!” says Penny Killow, Moody’s Global Crisis and Business Continuity Manager. “Then I thought, if I’ve made this mistake there will be others out there.
“I had some peers in our women’s network group and we put together a proposal and pitched it to our Head of HR and Head of DE&I. They were incredibly supportive, and agreed to back us,” she explains.
After publishing guidance about being mindful about the menopause in the workplace, changes came fast.
“Within weeks, it seemed, there was a pilot programme established to raise awareness and education around menopause in the workplace,” explains Florence Henderson, AVP Inclusion, EMEA.
“We have provided guides, a Sharepoint site where we host the information, a Slack channel where we get together and talk and share our own stories. And we now have benefits, too — where our employees and their partners and family members can call Bupa and have a conversation around menopause,” she says.
The Bupa programme, which staff can access 24 hours a day, has been the most beneficial change for Senior Admin Co-ordinator, Tammy Harvey.
“I phoned up and made the appointment, which was a 45 minute appointment with an expert in menopause; a GP, and it was absolutely life-changing,” she says.
“It’s been fantastic. There are e-learning modules for people to do, to find out more about it. And it’s just amazing to know you could go to your manager and say, ‘Today, I’m not feeling great’. I feel really supported; like there isn’t anything I can’t say relating to the menopause. I feel like it’s an open and safe environment.”
And now their efforts have extended beyond the internal business. “It’s been important for Moody’s to try and raise awareness outside of the organisation, too,” says Florence. “We’ve connected with other organisations that are at different stages of their journey. Going to events, listening to others, sharing our own stories, and working with external organisations to help plan our journey, is all really helpful.”
“One of the things that’s genuinely important is trying to create a really inclusive workplace where people can be who they are,” says Collin Ellis, MD, Global Credit Strategist at Moody’s. “If you’re not offering this kind of support, or the flexibility that hopefully makes some of this a little easier, that’s probably going to be to your detriment as a company.”
Penny agrees. “We have an aging population, and an aging workforce,” she says. “If you start writing women off at the age of 50 you are wasting so much talent. So [businesses] need to get wise to managing women through the menopause and supporting them with their symptoms, to try and make this as anxiety-free as possible, so that you can keep the best talent.”