The workplace and ‘Women’s Issues’Mar 08, 2023
First published by Gibraltar International Magazine
Highlighted by the Office of National Statistics, menopausal women are the fastest growing workforce demographic, Trudi Roscouet, Vitality40plus reports
Why all this fuss now? – women have been going through this for years! The truth is that this important condition is often ignored in the workplace, and it is time for companies to address it and to take action to support their workforce.
One good example is a law firm in the UK who became Scotland’s first Menopause Friendly accredited employers. The company created a support scheme in which it encouraged its employees to discuss freely menopause problems, provided training for everyone within the organisation, developed a comprehensive plan with resources made readily available, created a team to share their stories and started a menopause support group. They also worked with their Employee Assistance Provider to give access to menopause support and made it easy for employees to obtain fans.
Government report on the Menopause
According to Professor Jo Brewis, co-author Government Report on Menopause, which is highlighted by the Office of National Statistics, three out of four female employees are suffering with perimenopausal symptoms. Six out of ten working women aged 44-45 who were experiencing the menopause said that it had a negative impact on them.
In November 2022 the National Health Service (NHS) issued the first ever national NHS guidance on the menopause. Menopausal women working in the health service will be able to work from home if their symptoms require it. Among the ideas also considered are flexible working hours, flexible breaks, and lighter duties. The private sector has been recommended to follow the example to allow employees to manage their symptoms in the same way.
Women need to know their symptoms – they need to make sure they can find the correct education. Unfortunately, with over 50 plus symptoms, many women are still unsure or unaware of all the generic ones – hence the launch of The Bookmark, the complete symptom tracker. The Bookmark is a tool to help women join the dots when it comes to menopause symptoms. It is a list of symptoms that are all associated with the menopause, some of which may be familiar, and some not. The download print guide is designed to help women see the full picture.
I have been working with several companies in Gibraltar and the UK to outline the importance of training and menopausal awareness. It is all too easy for some employers to ignore the fact, but we need to break the stigma and the taboo that still surrounds the issue. Comments such as: “We just got through it” and “I don’t need to know about that” are all too familiar.
It is important to educate through corporate training not only women, but men as well. They need to understand how this condition effects their work colleagues and partners. Their support and empathy are conducive to both working and personal relationships. There are courses that outline the importance of being a good manager and how to deal with sensitive conversations.
In January 2023 the first Gibraltar Menopause Forum was held. Originally launched in 2020, the idea was to bring together medical and lifestyle knowledge to the jurisdiction. The forum was open to everyone, and it allowed women to come together and just talk about subjects with professionals and share their stories. Gibraltar is proud to be known as a leading jurisdiction in this field.
What employers can do
According to the organisation Menopause in the Workplace, every organisation wants to attract, recruit, and retain the best talent. But with one in four menopausal women considering leaving their jobs due to symptoms and one in ten actually leaving, organisations are losing talent. Putting an effective menopause strategy in place can change this.
Employers are encouraged to let their employees know what support is available to them and how to access it. It is also important that employers recognize menopause symptoms, which can be wide ranging, from sweats and hot flushes to dizziness. They are further encouraged to create support mechanisms, such as discussions groups, where employees who are going through the condition can talk freely about how they feel. In particular employers should lead the way in educating and supporting their staff.
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