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October is World Menopause Month, and this year’s World Menopause Day was the most exciting yet.

menopause, work, workplace, henpicked, menopause friendlyWhat’s exciting is the progress that’s being made in menopause awareness, education and support.

Soon the days when menopause is off the workplace agenda will be gone in all organisations. Today, organisations UK-wide are becoming menopause-friendly and it will fast become the norm. Rightly so.

A lot has happened in five years. Rewind, and you’d struggle to find a single organisation with any kind of menopause support in place. According to the CIPD in 2018, one in 10 did.

Where do you think we are today?

Our own evidence is telling us things have moved on even in the past two years. Surveys from recent Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace webinars tells us that 60% of attendees’ organisations had menopause guidance documents or policies in place. A trend we saw in ten Menopause in the Workplace education webinars, which filled in a day to capacity.

Statistics like this are heartening. But until the figure reaches 100%, we can always do better. Thankfully, we’ve now moved from it being unusual to seeing very positive action and fabulous results.

An accepted norm

After a recent webinar, I received a phone call from a delegate. Her feedback was: “Thank you for your Menopause in the Workplace webinar, it was an eye opener. I rushed back and talked to one of our Directors and told him we needed to do something on this fast, we’re really behind not doing this now.”

Which got me thinking. How long will it be before a menopause policy and support are as normal as a maternity policy? And what can we do to speed that up?

We’ve seen so many inspirational campaigns, employers breaking new ground in best practice. And it’s a drumbeat we’re hearing from far and wide. Public and private sector organisations, large and small. The message is going global, too – we’re running more and more sessions in the UK and internationally.

This acceleration of pace is absolutely marked, particularly remarkable given the Covid-19 restrictions and lockdown. In fact, over recent months we’ve trained thousands of employees and supported hundreds of employers, guiding them on best practice, where to start and how to keep it going.

Why is this happening now (if you need a reminder)?

If menopause has always been around, why is it only now that we’re starting to talk more about it and consider workplace support? Well, demographics have changed. We’re an ageing population and 8 in 10 menopausal women are in work. In fact, they are the fastest-growing workplace demographic. And this number is only going to increase.

In the past, when life expectancy was shorter, menopause was seen as an end-of-life event. Today, it’s very much a mid-life event. The vast majority of us work through our menopause and are still working decades afterwards.

We’re all at our best in an environment where you can fulfil your potential, where you know your employer cares and will be there for you if you hit a bump in the road during menopause. Add to that retaining more of your valuable, trained talent, reduction in absence and sickness and avoiding the risks of tribunals or employee relations issues.

This is a win-win-win. Menopause education and support is good for colleagues, good for employers and good for your customers. As a business case, it pays back fast and with dividends.

Now for my favourite reason

Step away from all things commercial. Supporting menopause at work is simply the right thing to do. For companies with wellbeing of colleagues at the top of their agenda, it really is a no brainer. Support is usually easy to introduce, straightforward and low cost.

On top of wellbeing, it supports organisational Equality, Diversity and Inclusion too. This is a life skill that will help in and out of work.

We’re talking about menopause more now because – thankfully – attitudes are changing. An increasing number of high-profile women using their platform to share their menopause experiences. We’re seeing much more in the press and on TV, which is fantastic. The more we discuss it, the more we normalise it. Talking about menopause should be as easy as talking about the weather.

So, where will we be this time next year?

If I had my way we’d reach the magic 100% of every employer having the right menopause awareness, education and support in place. Great places to work are those that have the best interest of their colleagues at heart. As a menopausal woman, I’d look for my employer to be menopause-friendly, and if I was looking for a new employer, I’d ask that question.

Those that previously shrugged this off as a fad or passing trend have hopefully changed their minds, seeing that they will soon become the odd one out.

Changing cultures can take time, and it’s already well underway. With every organisation that joins the menopause-friendly brigade, we’re a step closer.  Each conversation we all have, each conversation we encourage, growing the seismic roar of more and more voices. Changing minds about menopause, changing the stereotype, changing the culture for good. It helps us all now and for future generations.

My heartfelt thanks to each and everyone helping make that happen – changing lives for the better. Let’s keep the conversations flowing…

Author: Deborah Garlick, Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace.

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