Talking about menopause in the workplace

Here at Talking Menopause we often get asked: “How can I start to raise awareness of menopause in the workplace?” And this is a great question, it’s this very question for which we exist! So, what can we say? Well, sometimes there already are people talking openly about the issue in the workplace in women’s networks, unions, and informal support groups. However, often these networks and support groups get stuck needing some help and support to raise menopause to the next level and extend the discussion outside of these existing groups — to talk openly colleagues and bosses, particularly those who are male.

Women often tell us how they feel uncomfortable talking to managers in particular about the issue,  how they do not understand the menopause, the impact and the challenges it can present. In fact, menopausal women very often do not talk to their manager about it at all as they fear being judged, being seen as weak, or even being ignored for promotion. But, it’s only by talking to our bosses about the issue that we can begin to bust myths and build a positive and inclusive working culture for all.

When menopause is managed in a well, for example with an employer making reasonable adjustments when necessary, it can prove beneficial for both parties reducing associated issues such as absenteeism. Employers who fail to make reasonable adjustments, or who pass an employee up for promotion because of the menopause, can face discrimination claims under the Equality Act 2010.

So, where do you start? Simply by talking openly about it, making it visible, normalising it. Maybe we should be asking “why are we not talking about menopause?” In order to remove the taboo, the key facts are that every woman will go through the menopause, 80% of women will experience symptoms, 25% of those women will be affected by severe symptoms. Put that together with an ageing workforce and more women in work than ever before, the case is proven.  So, let's start talking about the “M” word, if you need some help to start that conversation why not come and practice on us first here at Talking Menopause?

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