Many women have found themselves struggling with the impact of symptoms from the menopause – take it from me – it can be debilitating. Memory loss, hot flushes, night sweating, sleepless nights, tiredness and mood swings – let alone the impact of the pandemic and trying to maintain positive mental wellbeing. Approximately 13 million women in the UK are either peri or post-menopausal, and 60% of women experience behavioural changes whilst menopausal.
Many women at this age are likely also to have hormonal early teenage children, elderly parents to take into consideration, and for my own situation an autistic child. I joke to myself regularly, it’s my age! But seriously, with the pressure that women place on themselves to try and be all things from being perfect mum, wife, and partner; trying to maintain a good body shape, exercise routine, and balanced healthy diet – the menopause adds to that pressure, and in many cases throws a woman completely off balance. But it isn’t just about the woman – it’s the impact it has on their partner and the family, as well as in the workplace.
Many women have been left feeling incredibly low, and in many cases forced out of the workplace altogether as memory loss, and ability to function at the great level which they have commonly known for and achieve deteriorates. Almost half of menopausal women say they feel depressed and a third say they suffer with anxiety.
An inquiry was launched by the government after a survey found that three in five menopausal women were negatively affected at work by their symptoms, with nearly 900,000 women in the UK leaving their jobs.
What is also worrying is up until more recent times, the menopause symptoms have been overlooked and not taken seriously by the medical profession. Although it is more openly spoken about now, it does remain a taboo subject – and a difficult topic to embrace.
Nuffield Health reported that:
- Women are incorrectly diagnosed with depression and given inappropriate medication.
- 38% of women seek help from a GP when suffering menopause symptoms.
- Quarter of those who visit a GP say that symptoms being menopause related are missed.
- A third of women who visited a GP are not made aware of HRT intervention, and when they are they are left very confused about HRT.
- Impacted by the symptoms of the menopause and not having the opportunity to express this. Doctors in some cases have not taken matters seriously.
It is also worthy to note that in some most severe cases, the menopause will be considered a disability, and of course it goes without saying that discrimination towards a female encountering the menopause would be considered unlawful as gender is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
Training in the workplace is crucial to fully support and understand the impact of those affected, so that support, space, flexibility and work adjustments can be achieved. Through understanding, a company can then truly offer the help needed. A menopause policy will also help to embed the acceptance and support to those experiencing or being impacted by the menopause.
However, it is also vital when educating in this area, that women in the workplace are consulted in the delivery of the awareness and training to ensure they don’t feel embarrassed or targeted by the added focus.
Those companies where leaders deliver the positive experiences for employees, create the environment for team collaboration and truly understand their people will go the extra mile to ensure diversity and inclusion – and this includes those impacted by experiences of the menopause. Diversity and Inclusion is part of the wider Employee Value Proposition which a company should implement to drive sustainable growth and profitability.
Employee Value Proposition – the value you place on your employees:
There are many great not-for-profit organisations out there which can support in this area. Equally here at Bower HR, we can provide help and support in delivering awareness on this topic and support companies to realise their own unique employee value propositions.
About the Author
Serena Bower MCIPD is a biz4Biz Associate and a highly qualified HR professional and consultant who owns Bower HR Consultancy, an outsourced HR services company for new and small ambitious businesses.