Axa has become the latest UK organisation to become an accredited menopause friendly employer.
The insurance giant, which has some 10,000 employers in the UK, was awarded the accreditation after an independent panel of experts assessed its practices, policies, and culture on behalf of organisation Menopause Friendly.
The accreditation recognises inclusive employers that build awareness and understanding around menopause, with successful applicants like Axa demonstrating “demonstrating dedicated focus, training and resources consistently across the whole organisation”, says Panel member Jog Hundle, an Employment Partner at Mills & Reeve.
To gain accreditation, Axa UK implemented a menopause policy and support guide to assist employees experiencing the menopause, and to provide those around them with guidance, information, and resources. The firm also introduced a smart working policy, guidance for managers on supporting staff, workshops, and training sessions, and recruited around 20 menopause champions across multiple office locations.
“Helping our employees better understand and feel comfortable talking about the menopause is the right thing to do,” says Tracy Garrad, CEO of Axa Health. “This accreditation paves the way for us to continue breaking the taboo and continue making menopause a topic that is talked about openly.”
Axa joins more than 100 UK organisations that have received accreditation to date, among them big banks, retailers and other businesses including HSBC UK, First Direct, Pfizer, John Lewis, Waitrose, NatWest Group, Virgin, Lloyds, Ogilvy, HSBC, Santander, Sainsbury’s, Boots, and Aster Group.
Why being accredited Menopause Friendly matters
Launched in July 2021 with the aim of changing the way people think about menopause in the workplace, Menopause Friendly accreditation shows that an employer has a clear understanding of how menopause can have an effect at work and that they care about the wellbeing of their employees.
To gain accreditation, employers are assessed by the organisation’s panel of independent experts, all of whom are passionate about accelerating change in menopause in the workplace best practice. Panellists include Kathy Abernethy, Director of Menopause Services at Peppy Menopause; ex-chief constable Susannah Fish OBE, who introduced the first menopause policy into the police force in 2017; Anne Bell, former Senior People Lead at HSBC; and Paul Sesay, CEO of the Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers, among others.
Committing to being menopause friendly means companies work towards long-term, sustainable change in the workplace, fostering an inclusive culture where everyone can be at their best.
It means, they say, that “you’ll find it easier to retain talent and to recruit new colleagues, as a place where people want to work”.
While the UK has made an enormous amount of progress over the past few years, the topic of menopause remains quite taboo, and with that comes a lot of misunderstanding and stereotyping, which can be detrimental for those suffering.
And considering menopausal women are the fastest-growing workplace demographic, and 1 in 4 are considering leaving work during their menopause, it’s a key area for employer focus.
“Employers have an important role to play in supporting the issues and stages of the menopause, just like they have with other stages of women’s reproductive lives, like pregnancy and maternity, for decades,” says Professor Jo Brewis at The Open University, who is part of the Menopause Friendly accreditation independent panel.
“An inclusive workplace and colleague wellbeing are at the heart of menopause in the workplace support; in turn, benefits include increased productivity, lower absence levels, and fewer recruitment costs.”
Menopause Workplace Pledge
As well as the Menopause Friendly accreditation, UK organisations can sign up to the Menopause Workplace Pledge, which was set up by women’s health charity Wellbeing of Women in collaboration with Hello! Magazine and Bupa in October 2021, with the aim of highlighting the impact that the menopause can have on women in the workplace.
More than 600 employers have signed up since the campaign launched, including those from FTSE 100 businesses, major supermarkets, and law firms.
Among those companies that have taken the pledge are AstraZeneca, BAE Systems, BP, Bupa, Citi, Diageo, EY, Grant Thornton, HSBC, KPMG, Mastercard, Ministry of Defence, NatWest Group, Network Rail, PwC, Royal Mail, Santander, Standard Chartered, Tesco, TSB and Yorkshire Building Society, among many others.
By taking the pledge, employers recognise that the menopause can be an issue in the workplace, and that staff need support from their organisations. These businesses also commit to providing menopause support and information to their workforce, as well as talking openly, positively, and respectfully about the condition.
Sign up for accreditation of Menopause Friendly