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From an initial idea to full rollout… here’s how Auto Trader designed their menopause awareness strategy and communicated it across the whole business.

Auto Trader is the UK and Ireland’s largest digital automotive marketplace. Part of my role is to support the wellbeing of our workforce. Recently this has included making sure our menopause awareness and support is fundamentally embedded in our strategy.

Taking the first steps to menopause awareness

The first part of our ‘journey’ began with discovery. Along with a colleague, I attended a menopause in the workplace awareness training session hosted by Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace. Here, we learned more about menopause and how organisations could be more supportive in the workplace. Little did we know how much this would inspire us, and how the session would give us such direction as an employer. The train journey home was full of ideas and planning.

We quickly put these thoughts into actions. The next step was arranging more sessions with Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace. These were very insightful, packed with information to support anyone going through menopause, or knew someone who was. This inspired us to arrange a coffee and chat morning which we opened up to the whole business. The uptake was great. In one small step we had made a huge difference.

Moving forwards

From here, we knew we needed to do more. We joined with our relevant guilds to see how to offer wider support and continue to raise awareness. Working closely with Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace, we followed the ‘How menopause friendly is your organisation?’ checklist. This helped us massively in becoming a fully inclusive and supportive business for menopause.

We’ve added menopause as a reason for sickness absence. This isn’t just for recording purposes, but to recognise we take symptoms seriously. As a result, we can then use this data to dive deeper into which symptoms are most impacting employees. Then, we can arrange additional support or awareness sessions accordingly.

To ensure a suitable working environment for our workforce, we joined up with Auto Trader’s health and safety lead. One thing we introduced was making sure we always had desk fans available. My gosh were they popular!

We also took the time to review our existing supportive pathways from Occupational Health, our EAP and private medical providers. All had something to offer around menopause, from counselling to useful handouts and a managing menopause toolkit.

Communicating to colleagues

We then started to think about what method we were using to communicate awareness for menopause and created a focus group on our communication platform Slack. This was designed for people to talk all things menopause, providing employees with a safe platform to have open and honest conversations. This channel is popular and often updated with websites and useful information. Open to everyone, it’s a great way to signpost to additional supportive pathways.

We knew we’d started to make some real progress with our awareness campaigns. This was even more evident when we had a number of brave individuals come forward to share their individual stories as to how menopause had affected them and their partner. Not only was this admirable, but their stories were incredibly powerful and prompted a huge response from social media platforms. This was one of my favourite stages of our journey. I’m super proud of them, and pleased that they felt comfortable to share stories.

Why is menopause awareness important?

Of our workforce demographic, 11% of our female employees are in the 45-55 age range, and 68% are over 30. Therefore, as a business it’s important to raise menopause awareness company-wide, so colleagues can support others. We already know 10% of women stop work because of menopause symptoms and we don’t want this to happen amongst our workforce.

Diversity and inclusion is a big part of our culture. We know hormonal changes can be experienced in other times such as fertility, trans and non-binary treatment and some cancer treatments. It’s important that we offer a supportive environment to everybody.

There is also a legal responsibility as an employer. Under the Equality Act 2010 menopause is covered under age, disability and sex discrimination. Also the Health and Safety Act 1974 provides for safe working and extends to working conditions for those experiencing menopausal symptoms.

What’s next?

Our massive priority is dedicated manager training to educate them about having conversations about the menopause. We’ll also offer more support sessions, for different stages of menopause. This was requested from our focus group and the first will be on perimenopause. Our constant priority is to always  keep conversations going, educating people and inspiring everyone to do more when it comes to raising awareness.

Best practice tips

Celebrate too. Menopause isn’t all doom and gloom and negative. For some women it can be a relief. Remember, while it’s great to signpost for support, some will be having a positive experience, and think about this in terms of your comms.

Be unique to your organisation. Think about your demographic and audience. What will have the biggest and best impact?

Be inclusive. Menopause can impact everyone.

Produce a robust and informative guidance document that’s easily accessible. Make it clear how your organisation can support menopause, and make sure everyone knows how and where to find this information.

Offer a platform. This means giving people a place to join together and talk about menopause, whether it’s a coffee and chat, networking, or online.

Work with experts. The advice and support from Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace has been invaluable.

Remember, raising awareness and being committed to being an inclusive company isn’t just about arranging a few awareness sessions. For this to truly embed it needs to be long-term commitment

Jenny Willetts is a People Operations Adviser at Auto Trader UK. 


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