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In conversation with Helen Tomlinson, Menopause Employment Champion

Helen Tomlinson, the Government’s Menopause Employment Champion, speaks to Wellbeing of Women about her goal to normalise menopause in the workplace

Helen Tomlinson, Head of Talent (UK & Ireland) for The Adecco Group, was announced as England’s first-ever Menopause Workplace Champion in March 2023.

In a candid conversation with Wellbeing of Women CEO Janet Lindsay, Helen discusses why she is so passionate about menopause support in the workplace, the importance of initiatives like the Menopause Workplace Pledge and what she hopes to achieve as Menopause Employment Champion.

Helen Tomlinson talks about her role as Menopause Employment Champion

“While I went through menopause and perimenopause, I had lots of autonomy in my role which meant I could manage my symptoms myself. But there are a lot of women going through menopause who don’t have that, and I think it’s important that they have as positive an experience as they can.

There are four million women aged between 45 and 55 in the workplace. Over 50s are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce. Menopause isn’t going away any time soon Helen Tomlinson

We talk about bringing your whole self to work – for around 50% of the population that will include the menopause at some stage. Around 25% of women will have no symptoms, 25% will have a horrific experience and 50% will have some symptoms at some time, so this has a huge impact on the workplace.

I think it’s important that we acknowledge this and recognise the challenges that women face in different roles and sectors. My best friend, for example, is a nurse in the second busiest Accident and Emergency department in the UK and was perimenopausal during COVID. As you can imagine, her experience was entirely different to mine.

The importance of initiatives like the Menopause Workplace Pledge

You cannot underestimate the impact of the work that organisations like Wellbeing of Women do and the impact it has on people in the workplace.

Employees need to be able to find out what is going to work for them. It could be around policy. It could be about best practice. It could be about education, how to start the conversation with a colleague or a line manager or even how you start the conversation outside of work, but the work that they do and just really underpins how an organisation can change the culture and make it a better place to work from a women's health perspective.

Campaigns like Wellbeing of Women’s Menopause Workplace Pledge [are] doing great things and having an impact on thousands of organisations Helen Tomlinson

Supporting workplaces to become menopause friendly

Sharing best practice

In my role as Menopause Employment Champion, I’m going to look at best practice across five key sectors:

  1. Retail
  2. Hospitality
  3. Adult care
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Professional and technical.

My team [at the Department of Work and Pensions] and I intend to start with a cross-sector roundtable talking about menopause best practice in the workplace. We will then break this down into the different sectors.

Women’s experiences in one sector can be entirely different in another, so with the aid of relevant sector bodies we will carry out a series of workshops and events to look at employers in each sector that are doing good work in this area.

We will create an online portal where all this best practice can be shared so that it’s accessible to all employers regardless of size. It’s important to recognise that not everybody works for large organisations and access to information and support should be equitable.

Encouraging allyship

Allyship and having someone to talk to when you’re going through menopause is critical. I’ve spoken to women who have felt isolated because they live alone or culturally, they don’t feel they can talk about it. Or it could be that they work in an organisation with limited touch points and allyships.

I've spoken to women who literally have nobody to talk to and feel like they've got to leave their job because they can't articulate the challenges that they're experiencing. Helen Tomlinson

I want to help put menopausal and perimenopausal women in touch others in a different organisation, but in the same sector, who can be that ally throughout menopause. I think this will take the most work, but could be a gamechanger.

A public commitment to menopause support

Campaigns like Wellbeing of Women’s Menopause Workplace Pledge are doing great things and having an impact on thousands of organisations. I want to get behind and support something like this rather than reinvent the wheel, which would be counterproductive.

The reason I think this is important is because there is approximately three million women currently claiming Universal Credit and the average of the claimant is increasing – it's now at 38. This is coming up to that average perimenopausal age. If we’re trying to get women back into the workplace, who could have become perimenopausal or menopausal while they were out of work, we need to find menopause friendly employers that they can go and work for.


The final part will be a comms plan so that we can get the communication out there that this exists for employers and their workforces to work with to make women’s experiences better.

My mum's generation didn't have conversations like this. I actually hope that my daughter's generation doesn't either because it just becomes part and parcel of being a woman in the workplace and becomes so normalised that there’s almost no need to talk about it.”


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