It’s just a hot flush: Debunking six key menopause myths in the workplace
Unmanageable menopause symptoms have driven more than one in ten women to leave their jobs. 44% of women in one study say the menopause has impacted their ability to work. 14% have reduced their working hours, while 8% say they have not applied for a promotion due to symptoms.
Women over 50 are the largest demographic entering the workforce. Their employment rate was 53% in 2000: now, it’s 68%. The potential economic contribution by women over 50 is huge – they are key to filling the skills gap. But businesses need to remove barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential in the workplace. Menopause is one of these barriers. The topic is still taboo, and while other crucial issues are becoming more widely discussed, menopause remains a topic that feels uncomfortable to people.
Businesses can begin their journey offering menopause support by addressing and debunking the six key menopause myths in the workplace:
Myth 1: menopause begins at 50
Truth: the average age for a woman going through menopause is 51, but symptoms can begin much earlier. It’s important to remember that menopause can also be triggered by certain medical procedures, too.
Myth 2: menopause symptoms last around a year
Truth: They can continue for a decade or more; pause for a while, and return. Everyone’s menopause journey is different.
Myth 3: it’s just a hot flush
Truth: Brain fog, irregular periods, joint pains and migraines and hot flushes are common. Experts have found 34 different symptoms.
Myth 4: any connection with mental health is just a coincidence
Truth: Studies highlight the link between menopause and mental health. Low oestrogen levels can exacerbate existing mental ill health. Women are two to four times more likely to experience a major depressive episode during menopause than they are throughout the rest of their lives.
Myth 5: women prefer to talk between themselves about menopause and men can’t really get involved
Truth: it’s really important to create a culture where the menopause experience is understood and supported, both in the workplace and at home. Men need to get involved, and as the tech industry is still male-dominated, it’s crucial that we all take responsibility for educating ourselves and offer support to women going through menopause.
Myth 6: menopause can’t be treated, so we can’t support it at work
Truth: there are many ways businesses can support women impacted by menopause symptoms.
At Colt, we’ve recently been awarded the Menopause Friendly Employer Accreditation for creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels they can talk about the menopause and gives individuals the support they need. Here’s what we recommend your business does to tackle the taboo and make life easier for those experiencing menopause symptoms:
- Create Menopause Guidelines for Managers and Employees: Our menopause guidelines were launched in 2021 to provide support for employees and those directly and indirectly affected. With the aim of making the guidelines more inclusive, in 2022, we added two new sections on endometriosis and how transgender and non-binary employees can also be affected by menopause.
- Create an intranet area and support group: We’ve introduced a holistic package of support for Colt employees at all stages of the menopause, including guidelines, resources, support, and contact information, and our support group is key. Members can share tips on managing symptoms and where to go for further support.
- Assign Menopause Champions: these people are critical in providing support and signposting for further help, and they’re a valued point of contact for those experiencing or know someone experiencing menopause
- Record a podcast series: We launched our own internal podcast series – Menopause Musings - interviewing individuals about their experiences.
There are many ways your business can offer support. Beginning the conversation is the only way to start.
techUK is marching forward to close the tech gender gap in 2023. Throughout March, coinciding with International Women’s Day (IWD 2023) on 8 March, we are exploring how we embrace equitable workplaces. The UN’s theme for IWD 2023 focuses on Digital for All or DigitALL, and we are proud to support this.
For more information, please visit our Women in Tech hub.
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