"It is clear change is needed and we all have our part to play"
Charlotte Hardie East is Divisional Operations Director at Civica and Chair of the Menopause Affinity Group. Here she shares her views on how the workplace needs to shift to be more welcoming to those going through the different stages of menopause.
As we mark World Menopause Day 2022, the statistics (source: House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee) around menopause remain startling:
- 81% of women experience difficulty sleeping
- 75% have problems with memory/concentration
- 72% experience hot flushes and night sweats
- 69% suffer with anxiety and depression
But the fact I find most alarming is that one in 10 women are leaving their jobs due to their menopause symptoms (source: Fawsett Society).
That’s 10% of brilliant, talented women who are struggling to manage their symptoms and feel their only option is to stop working. It’s clear change is needed and we all have our part to play.
Within Civica, we’ve established a Menopause Affinity Group which aims to create a positive, holistic culture of awareness, understanding and support for everyone – for people of every gender, for leaders and for colleagues.
Creating a safe and respectful culture
We are focused on breaking down the stigma, embarrassment and anxiety for everyone and openly recognise that this is a natural life event for women which carries no shame and certainly doesn’t need to be kept secret.
We’re creating a culture that is open, safe, respectful and non-judgemental; where women and leaders can discuss the impact that menopause symptoms can have on their working lives and make all the changes needed.
To support this mission, alongside our in-house ‘Understanding Menopause Handbook’ – which is available to everyone to help increase their general understanding of what the menopause is and what impact it can have – we’ve developed a new Menopause policy. This policy outlines all the various support options Civica can provide including: reasonable adjustment options; medical support; access to counselling/psychological therapies; and lifestyle support through our partnership with Sanders Fitness.
Providing 1:1 support
We’ve created a dedicated Yammer site and hold regular face-to-face and online meet-ups where colleagues can share their stories, knowledge and recommended treatments. We’ve also launched our brilliant ‘Menopause Mates’ scheme where people can connect and get confidential support on a 1:1 basis.
Our new ‘Menohub’ intranet site provides a great range of resources for all our colleagues, including information for their partners and family. And, on a very practical level, we’ve ensured our hubs are equipped to make everyone feel comfortable in their working environment, with wellbeing rooms and free sanitary products available.
Importantly, we recognise that our Civica leaders are in a good position to have direct influence with their menopausal team members, so it’s vital they are informed, feel equipped and ensure they can maintain an open attitude of caring, respect, compassion and kindness. To support them, we’ve developed ‘Leader guidance’ and will be running training events and workshops to help breakdown any barriers to discussing the menopause and ensure they can have effective conversations and are equipped to provide proper support to their teams.
People are the heart of Civica, which is why we’re doing all we can to ensure we live up to the commitment we’ve made as part of Wellbeing of Women’s Menopause Workplace Pledge. We certainly don’t want to risk losing 10% of our wonderful colleagues.
Wellbeing for Women is asking employers to sign the Menopause Workplace Pledge and support their colleagues going through the menopause. Find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved.