The Pharmaceutical Industry must be rubbing their hands together in glee counting the number of media column inches and air time recently being devoted to menopause.
Not too surprising, for every positive mention, or endorsement of one of their products, sales increase significantly swelling their profits. What is less certain, and probably doubtful, is whether it has occurred to industry at large that menopause is currently cutting millions off their bottom line due to women feeling overwhelmed by brain fog and incessant thermal surges. Or that companies and organisations are at risk of losing a great deal more money when women take them to tribunal over menopause discrimination in the workplace. The risk is real.
Following our national survey of 1000 working women in the summer of 2017, which discovered that 84% of respondents (equal to 8 million working women) said that their productivity at work was reduced. Three-quarters of them reported their productivity being reduced for over a week every month. We calculated that this equates to 280 million less productive work days per year in the UK.
Bear this in mind:
- Menopause is associated with hot flushes, night sweats, sleep deprivation, anxiety and even brain fog causing muddled thinking.
- At least seven out of every ten women still work at the time of their perimenopause, the five years up to the menopause, and through menopause itself, which occurs at the average age of 51.
- Plus, three out of every four women experience symptoms. Eighty percent of women in our survey reported suffering with moderate to severe symptoms.
It’s not difficult to begin to imagine the massive impact this is having on industry.
And, if that’s not enough, the Equality Act 2010 adds a wad of dynamite into the frame as it prohibits age, sex and disability discrimination in the work place. In her successful Tribunal against BT, Ms Merchant was dismissed for poor performance due to lack of concentration. The tribunal upheld her claim on the grounds that management would never have adopted “this bizarre and irrational approach” if a man was suffering with poor concentration. Her dismissal was therefore deemed a case of sex discrimination.
When women on the production line, and indeed in the Board Room as many women successfully climb the corporate ladder get wind of this, there is likely to be a Tsunami of tribunals unless Industry takes adequate steps to provide help and support to the mature women on their payroll. Now that women no longer need to pay for tribunals it follows that there will be many subsequent cases unless Industry get their ducks in a row.
Henpicked, who specialise in creating menopause policies in the workplace, have consulted with companies and organisations including E.ON, Leicester University, Trent Seven and the Nottinghamshire Police Force, as a result they now have policies and procedures in place supporting women going through this hormonal transition. A recent article by Catharine Geddes, published by Henpicked, articulately outlines how organisations can avoid being taken to tribunal over menopause discrimination, providing a check list covering what employers can do to protect themselves from being taken to tribunal.
I’m all in favour of this as it takes the lid off the taboo surrounding menopause, giving women permission to own up to being menopausal and get support at least. The next step is to provide constructive help to women in the workplace, so that instead of being stuck with the label of menopause, which can last for up to ten years, they are provided with science-based tools to overcome their symptoms. It becomes a win-win situation. Women get to reclaim their wellbeing, energy and concentration whilst their bosses welcome smiling faces in the workplace, increasing profits through improved productivity and rest more peacefully counting sheep instead of tribunals against them.
Watch the below to find out more about menopause and the workplace:
About the author
Maryon Stewart B.E.M., is the pioneer of the natural menopause movement. Join Maryon’s next self-help Masterclass at maryonstewart.com/masterclass.