Meet Deborah Garlick

Founder, Henpicked

Deborah Garlick is the founder of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace, delivering training to hundreds of organisations across the public and private sector. She was instrumental in establishing Menopause Friendly, for organisations to receive accreditation of their menopause activity from an independent panel of experts.

Menopause Friendly has just run its first Menopause Friendly Employer Awards, celebrating workplace excellence in the field. Deborah is a passionate advocate of all-things menopause, appearing regularly in press, on TV and radio. She gave evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Menopause and is also the author of the book Menopause: The Change for the Better, published by Bloomsbury. 

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

My interest in menopause began after I set up, a community primarily for women over 40. We encouraged our members to share their stories and I noticed a strong theme of menopause running through these. This prompted us to write our book, Menopause: The Change for the Better, which featured expert contributions and advice alongside these menopause stories.

I set up Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace because it became clear it was urgent and important for employers to understand what was going on. They needed to know people in their organisations might be struggling without support, and that they could be losing talent unnecessarily. We deliver training and help companies set up their own internal menopause support, policies and practices.

Our Menopause in the Workplace conference was the first of its kind in the UK and was so popular we’ve run more and more. These attracted leading names, who not only took action, but shared their best practice stories, and this has gathered traction ever since.

We’ve also just hosted our industry-leading Menopause Friendly Employer Awards, recognising and celebrating the great work employers have done and the difference they’re making to people’s lives.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, but it wasn’t this! For many years I worked in financial services and banking, making the shift to communications while studying for my MBA 20 years ago. I’d always planned and prepared to retire at 55, which has now come and gone! What I’m doing now isn’t a career, it’s my passion and purpose. Ultimately, I’m looking forward to the day we all say “Menopause? Of course, I know all about it. I know what to look for, where to get support and what I want to do.” And I’ll continue to play my part until we reach that point.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Who hasn’t? Talking about menopause was such a challenge when I started out. I had people asking me to stop putting meetings in the diary with the title ‘menopause’ because they found it embarrassing. I even had people asking me to stop talking about it because they felt it could harm women’s careers. But I believed then what I still believe. Menopause must be normalised, we need to talk about it, if people need support we need to make sure it’s there. If we do this right, we will help people today and for generations to come. For me, it was about starting with the end in mind and keeping focus until it’s done.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

A real milestone was the Menopause Friendly Employer Awards on 22 September 2022. One of my team reminded me that was my dream from five years ago, but it couldn’t feasibly happen until the point we’re at now. To see 250 members of Menopause Friendly Accreditation helping one another, cheering each other on, showing what good looks like – it was humbling. And the acceleration it’s creating is inspirational.

How great would it be if all these amazing examples means that menopause awareness, education and support are the norm in workplaces? Seven years ago, virtually no organisations had a menopause policy. By World Menopause Day 2023, what if we pass the 50% mark? We’ve made significant progress and I’m looking forward to seeing us go even further.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Working together. We are seeing a big cultural shift, and people’s actions are about changing hearts and minds. I feel blessed that I’ve found so many like-minded, passionate individuals to join our team and people in organisations prepared to support us in ways I couldn’t have imagined. We all support each other and it’s a wonderful place to be.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I think mentoring is so important and it’s an honour to be able to give back. Throughout my career, there were people who believed in me and helped me to develop both professionally and personally. I am eternally grateful to them and mentoring enables me to pass it on.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Of course I’m going to say menopause, menopause, menopause. We need awareness, education and support, to keep the conversations going and to keep shining the spotlight on menopause.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Enjoy the journey. I only ever focus on the end and my ‘to-do’ list takes all my attention. I need to look at the ‘ta-dah’ moments so much more. A second piece of advice was given to me by a very wise family member: “It’ll be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.”

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

That’s a whole new article. Watch this space…

Menopause: The Change for the Better | Henpicked

Why is talking about the menopause so taboo? When it’s something that all women experience, and all in their own unique way. Written by a range of expert contributors from clinical professionals to natural practitioners, this comprehensive and thoroughly researched guide equips you with everything you need to help prepare for the changes ahead.

Reflecting the latest NICE guidelines and information about HRT, this book provides a balanced view and encourages you to explore the options and think about what’s right for you.

Covering the facts, the myths, different approaches to menopause, including natural and medical options, and what to expect. Also included are quotes and stories from women sharing their own experiences. You’ve been through puberty and survived. You’re about to enter a new phase of your life, and it’s up to you how you approach it. So grab a cup or glass of something, have a flick through this guide and let’s start talking about the menopause.

Recommended Read: Menopause: The Change for the Better | Henpicked
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