World Menopause Day 2023: Are employers doing enough?

World Menopause Day is aimed at raising awareness and shining a light on available support
World Menopause Day serves as a perfect opportunity to ask whether businesses are doing enough to create a positive experience for their employees

Held every year on 18 October, World Menopause Day is aimed at raising awareness of the menopause and shining a light on the resources available to anyone looking to improve their health and wellbeing.

Individuals and organisations across the world are encouraged to participate by hosting events, voicing their support on social media and taking concrete action to break the stigma.

This year’s theme is cardiovascular disease, which supersedes breast cancer as the  number one cause of death and disability in women. Those with early menopause (under 45) are at higher risk of coronary heart disease due to the fact there is often less oestrogen in their bodies from an earlier age.

While World Menopause Day is an important occasion for generating awareness across the board, it also serves as the perfect opportunity to ask whether businesses are doing enough to create a positive experience for employees who may be going through the menopause. 

The menopause is negatively impacting women at work

A look at the numbers is enough to demonstrate the importance of employers giving the menopause the consideration it deserves and treating sufferers with respect and sensitivity.

It also outlines the challenges facing women when it comes to doing their job to the best of their ability. 

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Research from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows women aged 50 and above are the fastest-growing demographic in the workforce – and the average age for menopause transition is 51. 

Three in five women aged 45 to 55 who are experiencing menopause symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work, while more than half see their stress levels soar.

Worryingly, almost a third (30%) of women have taken sick leave due to their symptoms, but only a quarter ended up telling managers the real reason why. Privacy (45%) was a significant factor, but so was embarrassment (34%) and unsupportive management (32%). 

Diageo, Vodafone among companies stepping up

Clearly, knowledge has a big part to play in making discernible change, which is what makes occasions like World Menopause Day so crucial. 

And yet, despite what some may think, it’s not just men who lack the required understanding of the menopause and the toll it can take on women. 

Are companies in the UK & Europe doing enough to address menopause in the workplace?

One recent study, published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, concluded that Spanish women aged 35 to 75 had limited knowledge about the menopause and said it was urgent to implement training programmes to correct this.

Increasingly, however, companies are being recognised for their efforts to provide a greater level of menopause support. It must be said that, in Europe, the UK is leading the way, with major organisations including Diageo, Vodafone and Aviva announcing employee menopause support policies in recent years. 

On the other hand, executive search firm Horton International said it could find no companies in mainland Europe with similar policies, other than those headquartered in the UK with offices in other European territories.

“Not having a menopause support policy is a huge oversight,” Horton’s report reads. “Companies that have implemented such policies are praised for being so thoughtful, when it should be standard in every corporation's HR practices.”

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