Menopause in the workplace: A hot topic for discussion

My fans. Picture taken by me. No rights reserved by me.

On World Menopause Day (October 18th)  I’ll be leading a workshop in University of Edinburgh to discuss why menopause is a workplace issue.

One in ten women in the UK who worked during the menopause say they have left a job due to their symptoms. Are we at risk of losing some of our best staff at a time when they have the most wisdom and organisational knowledge? How can we adapt to ensure that all our colleagues have the support they need? Is this another leak in the pipeline for women in STEM?

At this workshop we will look at best practice guidance from professional bodies and trade unions and think about how University of Edinburgh can respond.  Your input and ideas are invaluable. We must work with leadership teams to ensure that workplaces are inclusive, and together we can tackle this ‘last taboo’.  We must discuss well-being, plans, policies and implications of hybrid working and come up with some actionable suggestions to take forward.

When I first began thinking about menopause as a workplace issue, I was struck by the data gap.  We do not know how much of an impact it has because we do not gather data properly. Days off work when you have menopause are often sporadic, here and there when you are having a bad time of it. Managers can take a good guess at the number of staff who may be experiencing menopause by looking at sex and age data, but without a specific category in absence reporting  women may be choosing a variety of categories in their absence reporting such as ‘anxiety’, ‘depression’, ‘mental health’ ‘hip leg, foot, shoulders, neck pain’  etc  so we are not getting a full picture of where to target support.

When I first raised this I was told to ‘wait for P&M, it’ll be better then’. I waited, but when P&M launched despite there being categories for ‘pregnancy’ and ‘menstrual related illness’, there was still no sign of ‘menopause’. Not enough middle-aged women in the data team perhaps.

Anyway, after a bit of gentle reminding, I can report that P&M now includes a category for menopause!   It’s listed under ‘S’ of course.

But we will need to help women feel confident that letting their employer know is a good thing to do, and that is a bigger question.


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