Talking about menopause in the workplace should be the norm
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 we work closely with others who may be affected.
Going through menopause doesn’t just have a significant impact on personal life, it impacts working life too, particularly given the stresses and strains of a busy workplace.
I started going through menopause around seven years ago. However, it took awhile 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. Knowing this was only a short-term fix, 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 suggests that there are around 4.4 million women aged 50-64 in work, the vast majority of whom will go through the menopause during their working lives.
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.
Having an exclusive community to support anyone impacted by menopause can be hugely beneficial. This can include women, but also others whose partners are currently going through, or 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 allowed many colleagues to do precisely this.
Sense of belonging
It’s important that women 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.
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.
Kathy England is service designer and menopause network lead at Experian
More resources for providing menopause support at work: