By Haley White, Founder of Menospace

Perimenopausal women are the biggest demographic in the workforce and with women working until they are older; this is set to rise. It’s estimated that by 2030, 25% of the female population will be peri/menopausal.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) made headlines recently by stating that employers can be sued if they fail to make reasonable adjustments for women going through peri/menopause.

With a recent Korn Ferry and Vira Health survey of 8000 women showing that 47% of women experience symptoms that disrupt their lives and that 13% have quit their jobs due to their symptoms, we need to be looking at ways we can break the taboo and make menopause mainstream in the workplace.

Menopause and Women in STEM

In STEM fields, where female representation remains low, the difficulties linked to menopause can intensify existing gender imbalances. Symptoms like hot flushes, fatigue, mood swings, and cognitive shifts can hinder women’s performance in high-pressure STEM positions. Furthermore, the stigma and lack of awareness about menopause may discourage women from seeking necessary workplace support.

In a recent survey conducted by Women in STEMM Australia, 81% said there’s no awareness or support happening within their organisations and 83% said that there was low to no awareness or discussion of symptoms with their managers.

One respondent said:

“For a long period, I considered suicide and realised that this was not normal. I never felt like this before menopause, but struggle with it daily since.”

Why is it essential for businesses to prioritise menopausal support?

Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees. The number of tribunals citing menopause has tripled, highlighting a growing issue in the workplace. However, staff training and appropriate policies remain insufficient. Employers and managers must recognise that menopause is an unavoidable phase in every woman’s life, impacting not just women but also the entire workforce, including men. Ignoring it is no longer an option.

Top tips for supporting menopause in the workplace:

Develop a menopause policy: Having a formal policy offers clear guidance for managers, ensuring the right support is provided. A menopause policy can prevent potential legal costs and protect the company’s reputation. It outlines the company’s commitment to supporting employees and provides a framework for addressing menopause-related issues.

Create a safe culture: To combat the stigma surrounding menopause, it is essential to create an environment where women feel comfortable discussing their experiences. Establishing support networks can be an excellent initiative. Encouraging open dialogue and challenging negative stereotypes are crucial steps toward reducing stigma and promoting understanding.

Get senior management buy-in: Change begins at the top. Senior leaders need to be aware of menopause’s impact on the workplace. By improving menopause awareness within the leadership team through training, organizations can ensure that menopause support is embedded into their overall strategy, moving beyond a mere ‘tick box’ exercise.

Make reasonable adjustments: Flexibility and comfort are key to supporting menopausal employees.

Reasonable adjustments might include:

  • Approving requests for flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or altering work hours.
  • Providing easy access to cold water, clean toilets, and washing facilities.
  • Stocking sanitary products in toilets.
  • Making desk fans available to help manage hot flushes.

Invest in staff training: Many employees and managers lack a thorough understanding of menopause and its effects. Offering comprehensive staff training can help reduce stigma and create an inclusive workplace culture. This could involve workshops, line manager training, and designating Menopause Champions who can provide ongoing support and information.

Consult with experts: Collaborate with menopause specialists to develop tailored strategies and policies that meet the specific needs of your organisation. Expert consultancy can help ensure that the measures implemented are effective and sustainable.

Menopause is a natural phase of life that affects a significant portion of the workforce. By prioritising menopausal support, businesses can not only fulfil their legal and ethical obligations but also enhance the physical and mental health of their employees.

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About the author

Haley White is a trainer, facilitator and founder of Menospace. With a degree in Business Psychology and an MSc in Organisational Psychology, and having run a wellbeing centre in Greece, Haley is well placed to support organisations to become happier and more productive places to be.

In 2021, Haley discovered she was perimenopausal and like a lot of women, didn’t know what this meant. Through her exploration, she discovered there are over 6.5 million menopausal women in the UK workforce, and a staggering 900,000 of them have left their jobs due to inadequate support.

Haley realised that something needed to be done so she created Menospace, a menopause training and consultancy organisation. Haley is on a mission to normalise the conversations around menopause at work.

Some of the organisations Haley has worked with include NHS, Colt Technology, Wates Construction, Cardiff University, Thames Water, Wikimedia Foundation and Cabinet Office.

Outside of work, Haley loves dog walking, strength training, reading books, socialising and travelling with her friends, family and partner.

Are you looking for menopause support? Visit our dedicated section for easy tips, advice and stories from others like you. Click here to learn more.