In her fascinating TedTalk, Neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Mosconi makes it clear: menopause does not impact cognitive performance. This means that workplaces risk losing extremely able, experienced, and valuable employees simply because they’re falling behind when it comes to implementing a supportive menopause policy — and that’s an expensive mistake to make.
Thankfully, menopause policies are gathering momentum among leading employers who want to attract, nurture, and retain talented women. Of course, this includes WORK180 Endorsed Employers from around the world who have kindly shared the impact of the policies they’ve put in place so far.
The life-changing power of a menopause policy
At J.P. Morgan, events, content, and resources have raised awareness of the realities of menopause and encouraged open discussion throughout their teams. While they believe work is still to be done, their policies are already having a positive impact on people’s lives.
This includes Louise Meadows, a London based J.P. Morgan team member who has allowed her employer to share her story with us:
When Louise started experiencing menopause, she felt lost. She was unsure of what was happening with her health and how to manage the many symptoms she had suddenly started experiencing. Louise attended one of the internal ‘Life Happens: Menopause’ events and described it as ‘life changing’. As a direct result of the event, Louise was able to receive valuable treatment advice and answers from the presenting doctor to help her make informed choices for her future.
After 16 years of service, Louise has a wealth of experience and knowledge that J.P. Morgan was able to retain. That’s the power of a supportive menopause policy.
Actions taken by J.P. Morgan so far:
- Recently hosted four ‘Life Happens: Menopause’ events with both an external menopause consultant and doctor. Topics discussed included the realities of menopause and the support required in the workplace.
- Recorded a menopause-focussed podcast, which shared the real-life experience of one of their employees.
- Communication was sent across the region highlighting their events, the podcast, and all the resources in place to support women and their managers.
Talking away the taboo
From the very first meeting of WIRE (Women in Rail Empowerment Group), it was clear that both men and women in Southeastern Railway had been silently suffering menopause’s impact in some way. What was also clear to Area Manager and WIRE’s Chair, Natalie Leister, was the need to start talking about it:
I went out and spoke to both men and women, and found that when you started the conversation, more people than you thought were being affected by this.
As a woman I acknowledge that not everyone is comfortable with talking about the menopause yet, so I would always start a conversation explaining that you need some support regarding your menopause and if they are the right person to speak to, and if not, who is. I would be prepared for the conversation I am about to have setting out what has been happening, what you have done so far (for example visited your doctor etc), and what support you believe is needed to help you. The menopause may still be a taboo in your workplace. It’ll always be if you don't start talking about it.
Southeastern Railway implemented a range of simple but thorough and effective strategies to ensure no colleagues were being held back by menopause.
Actions taken by Southeastern Railway taking so far:
- Investment in people management training to ensure all managers were prepared to talk about the menopause, had the skills to open a conversation and direct employees to the right services, and ultimately make it less of a taboo topic.
- Managers were given a clear menopause policy to refer to, which covers all genders.
- Support networks were created for those going through the menopause.
- Sessions were run for those who may be experiencing the menopause or supporting a loved one through the transition.
Flexible working: an essential part of a menopause policy
While Reward Gateway’s Head of Global Engagement and Internal Communications, Catrin Lewis, has ambitions to offer employees even more, the Endorsed Employer already offers a range of menopause support. As part of its offering, the company makes it clear that flexible working is an available and appropriate option for anyone managing their menopause symptoms:
We offer complete flexibility to our menopausal women to help them manage their symptoms and work in an environment which helps to alleviate symptoms [...] Working from home means the employee can have complete control over the temperature of her workspace and ability to use our Work from Home Bundle to get a desk and chair that is comfortable for her needs.
According to the research behind the Menopause Information Pack for Organizations (MIPO), access to flexible working is key to creating a menopausal-friendly workplace. It’s also important to normalize the use of flexible working for menopause management, which can be done through simple changes such as updating policy materials to include images of middle-aged women. In doing so, organizations can ensure women feel recognized and included, which is more important than ever for those experiencing menopause.
Actions taken by Reward Gateway so far:
- Discussions about menopause within both the company’s Women's Network and Age Network.
- World Menopause day is now in its company calendar of events.
- Menopause is named as an appropriate reason for taking flexible working.
- Managers and teams are given the knowledge and skills needed to talk about menopause.
- Improved accessibility: there is no dress code in any of their offices so that women can dress to suit and alleviate any symptoms like hot flushes. Similarly, all offices also have chilled drinking water.
- A variety of desks with different functions (such as standing desks) are available to ensure team members have control over their comfort.
A little goes a long way
With over 80,000 colleagues to reach, the communications and engagement team at Lloyds Banking Group faced a challenge when implementing their policies. And like Reward Gateway, their Comms & Engagement Lead, Kate James, still believes they have a way to go. However, what they have introduced (which includes campaigns, support groups, guides for line managers, and more) has already started some much-appreciated conversations — proof that even the simplest menopause policy can have an impact.
A series of live events leading by menopause experts, Dr. Louise Newson (the Menopause Doctor) and Diane Danzebrink, is one of the company's initiatives with the most impact.
Just do it! The response we got from colleagues once we started the conversation was overwhelming. Our campaign 'Let's start talking' was hugely successful and we had a number of passionate women (and men) come forward to share their stories. We then created an event in a box so it could be rolled out locally by colleagues who were keen to get involved. We had so many stories from women who just wanted to be able to talk at work and start to break those taboos.
Actions taken by Lloyds Banking Group so far:
- HR policy updated and guidance for colleagues and line managers.
- Private online support group with over 1300 members.
- Face to face events and local menopause ‘corners’ across all our regional hubs, including rolling out an ‘event in a box’
- Regular virtual sessions with an array of guest speakers.
- Company-wide campaigns.
- Guidance and signposting to useful resources.
- Work with the Unions and Business in the Community, with endorsement from Baroness Ros Altman, ex Work and Pensions Minister.
- Work with ex LBG colleague Lauren Chiren who has since retrained and become a Menopause Coach.
Over to you and your organization
Could your organisation be doing more to support employees impacted by menopause? To find out how you can create a menopause-friendly workplace, we recommend downloading the MIPO’s handy checklist. And for those truly dedicated to creating a supportive workplace for women, let the world know by joining these leading organizations as a WORK180 Endorsed Employer — complete our Endorsement check today.
Job seekers can find all the benefits and policies of Endorsed Employees on our WORK180 website before they even apply. So if you’re looking for a workplace with menopause support, parental support, or an all-round commitment to women’s careers, be sure to explore our Endorsed Employers’ current opportunities.
About the author
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