Why it’s important to be talking about menopause in the workplace

Portrait of happy senior woman holding eyeglasses and looking at camera at home. Successful old lady laughing and working at home, menopause

Article by Kathy England, Menopause Network Lead, at Experian

Menopause. A totally natural part of a woman’s ageing process, but a topic that people still feel deeply uncomfortable and embarrassed to talk about – particularly in the workplace.

But this should not be the case. Regardless of gender or age, we should all be doing more to understand it, especially if you work closely with others who may be affected.  

Going through menopause doesn’t just have a significant impact on personal life, but also working life too, particularly given the stresses and strains of a busy workplace.

I started going through menopause about seven years ago. However, it took a little while for me to realise it was causing an issue at work. I have always been comfortable and confident in my ability, but menopause changed all that for me. I started thinking I was useless and lost confidence in my ability to carry out even the simplest of tasks, never mind my actual job role.

It got so bad for me that I couldn’t even hold a proper conversation or remember what I had been doing without having a panic attack or wanting to hide.

I am lucky in a way, as after speaking to my manager it was agreed that I could work flexible hours and from home as much as I needed. This was perfect, as I didn’t know how I’d be feeling from one day to the next. Not only did it help me to manage my workload, but also my paranoia. I also managed to see a private menopause specialist who provided the support, guidance, and treatment to enable me to return to my full of life, normal, self again.

Going through this experience hasn’t been easy for me. But I am not alone. Research estimates that there are around 13 million women who are currently peri or menopausal in the UK (Wellbeing of Women) – that’s equal to one third of the entire UK female population. Whilst a minority of women will experience little or no menopausal symptoms, a significant number will experience debilitating symptoms that can last up to 15 years. It’s not uncommon for many of these women to suffer in silence, as their employers don’t have the correct policies and procedures in place to support them.

Menopause is not just a female issue, it’s an organisational issue too. Awareness on this topic is fundamental and reducing the stigma attached to it is vital so that more people will talk openly about it. Even just a few adjustments at work could make a huge difference. Here are some to consider:

  1. Support network: Having an exclusive community to support anyone impacted by menopause can be hugely beneficial. This can include anyone impacted by menopause, this includes partners to enable them to support effectively, or people who are about to go through menopause. It’s a great place to share experiences, concerns, ask questions and be there for each other. The Menopause Network at Experian has proved to be invaluable and is growing day by day.
  2. Sense of belonging: It’s important that people going through menopause feel properly supported and included in their working environments. Creating a place where people can bring their whole self to work encourages the right culture that nurtures openness and being treated respectfully.
  3. Education is key: Develop resources, tools and benefits which aim to help everyone understand the effects of menopause and what you can do to support yourself and others. At Experian, we’ve also developed a new policy to ensure that women and managers are equipped with the necessary guidance to be able to fairly support colleagues who are suffering from menopause.

About the author

Kathy England is a Service Request Manager at Experian, as well as leader of the company’s UK Menopause network. She was instrumental in the creation of the network in 2019 to encourage and support anyone impacted by this natural process. The aim is to remove the taboo label, be able to speak freely without fear of judgement and feel totally supported in the workplace.

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