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Three menopause facts every employer needs to know

October 12, 2023

Spoiler alert: This article is not about detecting or dealing with the signs or symptoms of menopause.

(However, as it impacts almost every person with a womb, we’d certainly encourage you to read up on the symptoms.)

Instead, we’re here to share three important facts that employers need to know if they’ve not yet properly paid attention to this widely ignored health condition. 

1.  Menopause isn’t the problem you think it is

Let’s not waste time pretending there isn’t a stigma attached to both menopause, and the work abilities of those experiencing it.

In recent studies by Harvard Business Review, participants judged a hypothetical coworker described as a “menopausal woman” as being less “leader-like” than when described as a “middle aged woman” or a “middle aged man”. 

And yet, 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.

To give you an idea of how expensive this lack of understanding is to the overall economy, a recent Mayo Clinic study in the US quantified this cost at approximately $US1.8 billion in lost work time per year. 

This shocking cost to employers and the economy could be drastically reduced through awareness and support, just as employers do for many other health conditions.

2. Your company’s lack of support has a ripple effect (and it’s damaging your overall diversity efforts)

In our most recent annual survey of women and marginalized groups, ‘Women in leadership roles’ was ranked the third most important factor when considering a new employer. (‘Paid leave entitlements’ and ‘Career development opportunities’ took first and second place, respectively). 

Of course, the average age of menopause coincides with the average age of those ready to take on such leadership positions. As such, employers who fail to adequately support talented and committed employees experiencing menopause will struggle to achieve equal representation at all levels. 

This inability to achieve equal representation — especially in leadership — will have a big impact on your gender pay gap data. This is a particularly pressing issue for companies in Australia and the UK, who will be expected to publicly report on their pay gap data in 2024.

81%

 of What Women Want Survey respondents also said they want to know what employers are doing to reduce their gender pay gap.

 

💡 To find out more about understanding and assessing your gender pay gap data, take a look at our free step-by-step checklist.

3. An increasing number of other employers already “get it” 

In fact, the most sought-after resource in our varied knowledge base for the employers we work with is currently “How to implement menopause leave”. 

Many of the leading employers we work with are also implementing an official Menopause Policy (often alongside a Menstrual Policy). This includes offerings such as flexible work arrangements and counselling services, which can be used to foster an inclusive culture that benefits everyone.

When those experiencing menopause receive the support they need during this transition, it can have a positive ripple effect on their families and colleagues. It promotes a culture of empathy and understanding that extends far beyond the menopausal years. It’s a win-win situation that [companies] cannot afford to ignore any longer. Menopause is a natural part of life; it’s time we treat it that way in our workplaces too.

But it’s vital to note that documents and paperwork alone won’t do. As with any policy designed to support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), it must be part of a sincere, well-communicated, and consistent effort to support those experiencing menopause. 

Wondering what to include in your menopause policy? 

An effective menopause policy clearly communicates all the ways in which your company is able to support the impacted individual, as well as detailing how that support can be accessed. 

It therefore needs to be tailored to your specific company and the needs of those working within it. However, it’s also important to ensure it follows best practice, such as using inclusive language. To help you get started, our DEI experts have released our free menstrual and menopause policy template

You can also find more helpful free templates, webinars and reports in our employer resources area. And if you’d like to receive these resources straight in your inbox, be sure to sign up to our HR newsletter

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About the Author

Sophie Main is WORK180's Brand and Content Manager, with a background in business improvement and a determination to make the working world a better place. She regularly collaborates with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experts to create content that will help companies support the careers of all women.

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