Article by Angela Watson, Age Campaign Manager at Business in the Community
This is a huge contrast to when Business in the Community (BITC) started supporting members with action on menopause. Even two years ago, menopause was still very much a taboo subject. When we launched our menopause employer toolkit, with our academic partners from The Open University, University of Bristol and De Montford University, our research found that half of women felt menopause was an uncomfortable subject, and nearly a third said their experience of discussion of menopause at work was as a joke.
Fast forward two years and attitudes are finally changing. Over the last month, I have seen a range of voices commenting on menopause at work; including men and women, young and old. There is also more understanding that menopause can be an issue for trans and non-binary people born with female identity.
It is important to see that menopause is not a women’s issue, and certainly not one for older women alone. As a society, we need to see this as a transition that is common to all women, and some trans and non-binary people too, yet is experienced uniquely by each of them.
As many people transitioning through menopause are working, this becomes a clear workplace issue. Work makes menopause symptoms worse through stress, long hours and high workload and a quarter of women have considered giving up work as a result. Nearly a million may have already done so. But women of menopausal age, most commonly between 45 and 55, are a rapidly growing element of the UK working population. And given the labour and skills shortages we are seeing as a result of the pandemic, we need all the workforce experience and talent we can find.
Business in the Community’s Menopause in the Workplace toolkit explains what employers can do to support women as well as trans and non-binary people experiencing menopause at work. Actions include:
BITC actively supports employers to better support women as well as trans and non-binary people experiencing menopause. All women experience menopause and most experience symptoms that impact their quality of life in some way. But with the right support from employers, those symptoms can be managed and those employees can continue successfully at work, to have a meaningful and positive career.