Business leaders including
Lord Karan Bilimoria, President of the Confederation of British Industry and Baroness Karren Brady, and MPs Caroline Nokes and Carolyn Harris urge employers to act now and support women in the workplace.
A survey estimated that nearly a million women in the UK have quit their jobs and a report shows that three in five women are negatively affected at work due to the menopause.
To launch its Menopause Workplace Pledge campaign, which is encouraging all organisations to support colleagues going the menopause, Wellbeing of Women held a roundtable discussion, joined by the charity’s Patron, The Countess of Wessex and Prof. Dame Lesley Regan.
In less than a week, over 100 employers signed the pledge, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, News UK, Anglian Water, PwC, Santander UK, Standard Chartered and HarperCollins UK.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents 190,000 businesses in the UK, has signed the pledge.
Lord Karan Bilimoria, President of the CBI, said:
"Menopause is a matter for the workplace. Offering support to those who may need it is good business because inclusive workplaces help everyone to perform at their best at work, improve staff engagement and retention.
“The CBI encourages companies to sign up to the Menopause Workplace Pledge.”
Baroness Karren Brady, Ambassador of Wellbeing of Women and one of the most influential, high profile and respected female business leaders in the UK, said:
“As a businesswoman and proud ambassador of Wellbeing of Women, I fully support this campaign.
“Workplaces benefit enormously from women’s contributions, especially in later life, when women are particularly productive and successful.
“Businesses should value women’s contributions and support colleagues affected by the menopause. By doing so, we can make sure women continue to flourish throughout their career, at every stage.”
Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North, and Chair of the Women and Inequalities Committee, which is undertaking a government inquiry into menopause discrimination, said:
“The stories we are hearing from women struggling in the workplace are heartbreaking. Women’s health, and particularly the menopause, has not been given the attention it deserves, having been swept under the carpet for many generations. As a result, people are not aware of the issues or the support that women may need. We need to change this through raising awareness, having honest conversations, and making improvements for women in the workplace.”
Carolyn Harris, Welsh Labour MP for Swansea East and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Menopause, said:
“Despite affecting nearly half the population, the menopause remains a taboo subject and it is not spoken about openly or honestly. Women have suffered long enough and the time has come to acknowledge the issue, particularly in the workplace, where it is poorly understood.
“Companies can support women with practical measures, such as flexible working, and well-ventilated rooms, but we also need everyone to come together in the workplace and break down the taboo because it is a fact of life.”
Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Wellbeing of Women Chair, said:
“Women over the age of 50 are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace, but nearly one million have left because of the menopause. This is often devastating for the women involved and their families, but it also has a negative impact on the workplace they are forced to leave, due to the loss of highly experienced and productive staff.
“Most women will have menopause symptoms and for some women these will be debilitating. We need to make sure support is available for those who may need our help. While we are delighted with the overwhelming support for our campaign by businesses and organisations across the country, we can and must do more. We call on every employer to sign the Menopause Workplace Pledge.”
Kevin Ellis, Chairman and Senior Partner, PwC UK, said:
"As businesses continue to make progress on gender equality, it's important we have the infrastructure and policies in place to support women throughout their careers.
"It makes business sense to invest in making sure all our people are happy and healthy, so it's an obvious decision to recognise and understand the impact of different health issues, including the menopause. We've had great feedback from both our people and our clients on the work we do to educate and support our people on the menopause. I encourage other employers to look at what they can do to support their people in this area."
Natasha Adams, Chief People Officer at Tesco, said:
“There is always more we can do to help empower women and be there for colleagues, and I am so pleased to be working with Wellbeing of Women on such an important campaign, as we pledge to talk openly, positively and respectfully about the menopause. The conversation on menopause is just opening up, and together, we can make a positive change for women in the workplace.”
Alex Perry, CEO of Bupa Insurance, said:
“Too many women are leaving the workforce at the peak of their careers because they do not have the right support through menopause. This terrible loss of talent and the impact on their lives needs tackling urgently. Organisations that are serious about improving gender diversity, or already have a large female workforce, need to get serious about women’s health.
“This is something male business leaders also need to show leadership on and the good news is that taking action is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, especially compared to the consequences of doing nothing.”
For more information about the 'Menopause Workplace Pledge' campaign, please visit the dedicated section of the website.
If you are an employer, you can sign the pledge for your organisation. As a staff member or individual, you can join the campaign and encourage your workplace to sign the pledge. Together, we can improve support for people going through the menopause.