Our Royal Patron, The Countess of Wessex, joined a roundtable discussion to back the campaign and highlight the “tragic” impact that the menopause can have on women and the need for support in the workplace
Wellbeing of Women has today launched its 'Menopause Workplace Pledge' campaign, in partnership with HELLO! Magazine and Bupa, calling on all employers to support colleagues going through menopause in the workplace.
Women make up nearly half the UK workforce, yet it's estimated that nearly 900,000 have quit their jobs due to the menopause. Research shows it is in the workplace where many women struggle to manage menopause symptoms which can include anxiety, brain fog, poor concentration, fatigue, hot flushes, and irregular and heavy bleeding.
In a roundtable event to launch the campaign, The Countess of Wessex, the charity's Royal Patron, commented: “To think that women are having to leave the workplace is just tragic. We are fabulous in our 40s, and we are even more fabulous in our 50s, 60s and 70s, and we need to celebrate that and keep those opportunities going for women."
Leading companies such as Bupa, Tesco, PwC, HarperCollins UK and Santander UK have signed the pledge and took part in the roundtable. Each organisation shared measures being taken to support employees.
By making the pledge, organisations commit to recognising that the menopause is a workplace issue, and that women need support, as well as talking respectfully and openly about the menopause, and actively supporting and informing colleagues.
The Countess added: “Together, we can support the thousands of women out there who form the backbone of our workforce."
“We cannot let anybody leave the workforce unfulfilled and also feeling that they have got to slope off into the shadows. It’s not right and we’ve got to be able to change that.”
Keynote speaker Natasha Adams, Chief of People at Tesco, said that her company employs 300,000 people in the UK, more than half of which are women. It has guidance and training in place, to help raise awareness of the menopause and dedicated support for staff. From next year, it plans to introduce a more breathable fabric into employee uniforms to help women with hot flushes.
Other speakers included Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Women’s Inequalities Select Committee, which is undertaking an inquiry on menopause discrimination, and Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Menopause, and former athlete and TV news presenter Gabby Logan.
Co-host of the roundtable event, Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Wellbeing of Women Chair, said:
"In the UK, there are nearly 5 million women working aged between 45-60 years. The majority of these women will go through the menopause, which frequently coincides with the peak of their careers, a time when they are at their most successful and productive.
“Through supporting women, employers can help to attract and improve retention of staff, ensure an inclusive workforce, increase productivity, maximise employee wellbeing and address the gender pay gap.
“When we get it right for women, everyone benefits, both in the workplace and beyond.”
Barbara Claypole, shared her experience of lack of support in the workplace as she went through the menopause, and eventually had to quit her job:
“There is a real need for education and awareness within organisations to ensure no employee feels as isolated as I did when I went through the menopause at work.
“Businesses need to value the women they have in their workforce who are going through the menopause, otherwise many will continue to leave.
“I now know your career doesn’t have to end as your menopause starts.”
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.”
Rosie Nixon, Editor in Chief of HELLO! Magazine, said:
“I am thrilled that HELLO! is teaming up with Wellbeing of Women to take a stand and put the menopause into the mainstream, to improve workplace conditions for women. It's quite shocking really, that there are not already policies in place to protect a time of life that all women will go through.
“I hope that our audience will get behind this important campaign and together we can make a real difference - not just for women, but for our partners and future generations too.”
The full version of the roundtable event can be watched on our YouTube channel here.