What if I told you that…
- when you reached the age of 50 you’d have to give up your job?
- you’d be leaving because you could no longer function in the workplace?
- you couldn’t tell anyone at work about what was happening?
- you’d feel so unwell that every day life would become unpredictable?
- you might feel this way for over a decade?
- medication would help 90% of people that felt like you, but only 14% would receive it?
This is Menopause.
Over 50% of the UK population is female and almost 100% of those females will experience the menopause to some extent.
So why don’t we talk about it?
I’m no social historian, I’m just a woman who educates workplaces about the menopause, but here are some of the reasons based on my experiences:
- Embarrassment about the symptoms – especially sexual connotations
- Afraid of saying the wrong thing – especially for men
- Shame that it’s happening
- Not considered important
- Mustn’t make a fuss
- Feel there is something ‘wrong’ with me
- Fear of being ‘written off’
- It’s confusing
- I don’t actually know if that is what’s happening
- Getting old is considered ‘bad’
In short, there are many reasons why the menopause remains a taboo subject, whether that is amongst women, with men (there are few faster ways to clear a room than the mention of menstruation or menopause!) and particularly at work.
In nearly 25 years working at a senior level in Human Resources for some of the world’s largest employers and most recognisable brands, I can truthfully say that I never had a woman come to me and talk about or ask for help because of her menopause. Nor did I have a line manager that came seeking assistance on behalf of a member of their team.
At this stage of my life and career, this makes me feel ashamed. Not least because I was a post-menopausal woman for the majority of my career having suffered Premature Ovarian Insufficiency – basically the premature menopause – at the age of 19. I didn’t get a diagnosis until I was 32 (trying for a baby that was never going to be possible) and in that moment my world fell away from beneath me.
What did I do? I went back to work the next day, told no-one and soldiered on silently handling the physical and emotional fall-out.
Why? Firstly, I was deeply in shock. Secondly, I was totally unprepared in my life for this event and had no words to articulate my menopause. Thirdly, I instantly felt ‘old’ and useless, and feared my employer might view me as the same if they found out.
It took a long time to come to terms with, but those feelings and the lack of dialogue I experienced in all the workplaces I’ve been in, is what now motivates me to speak up about the menopause and help organisations to tackle this taboo.
We must ask ourselves, why IS it taboo? Because in actual fact, the menopause is as natural a part of life for women as puberty, ageing and death are to all sexes. We just don’t speak about it…
Well, it’s time that changed.
The shocking statistics that demonstrate how many educated, experienced, talented women leave their jobs during the menopause should be reason enough for businesses to sit up and take notice.
In the perpetual battle for talent, to hire or promote (good) leaders, and to improve workplace diversity & inclusion, which we know is good for business success, we need to start taking the menopause – and our attitudes to it – seriously. There is much that can be done to support, guide and advise the women that experience it, but also the men in their lives – at home and at work – to ensure the menopause does not continue to remove, from businesses and society, these valuable contributors.
There is much discussion, education and action that lies ahead of us in making the menopause an integral part of our health, wellbeing and talent agendas in the workplace – in fact, there is considerable ground that needs to be covered and regained. It is why I am delighted to be working with Thrive Law on their quest to get the menopause on the agenda within their business and for their clients. They believe that placing menopause as a business-critical issue for strategic hiring, development, promotional and retention decisions, makes sounds economic and engagement sense.
What does it take to do this? Less than you think. It starts, as with any business matter, with the willingness to have the conversation.
So why not join us as we get you started throughout the month of March (OMG, could that be ‘Menopause March’??!!), which begins with our Menopause 101 session that tells you what you need to know.
I hope you can join us. Click here to join us on these free events.
Let’s change The Change.
How can Thrive help?
If you feel you’re looking for an outsourced HR partner to assist in the management of your workforce, please get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions at email@example.com