Discourse about the menopause is no longer limited to dark mutterings about ‘the change’ between ladies of a certain age. But how should menopause in the workplace be addressed when it comes to your company communications?
The journalist and novelist Jilly Cooper once blithely dismissed menopause as no more than a temporary “pause in getting men”. But, with more women speaking out about their experiences of this life stage, people of all ages are becoming aware of its effects, which can range from debilitating to devastating. And – sorry, chaps – it’s really got very little at all to do with men.
According to the CIPD’s publication aimed at line managers, A Guide to Managing Menopause at Work, menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace. However, as many as 25% may experience severe symptoms during perimenopause and menopause, sometimes leading to them ceasing work altogether. Research by BUPA found that almost one million women in the UK have left a job because of menopause symptoms, exposing businesses to “the threat of losing their most experienced female talent”.
In January 2023, the UK government rejected calls from campaigners and recommendations put forward by the women and equalities committee to include menopause in the protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010, arguing that discrimination against menopausal women would already be covered by the protected characteristics of sex, age and disability. Still, many forward-thinking workplaces are putting in place a menopause workplace policy or other provisions to meet the needs of menopausal women, which might include reasonable adjustments, flexible working, enhanced sick leave and building a supportive workplace culture.
But a survey conducted by the digital health platform Peppy found that even when employers do offer such support, almost one in five don’t provide regular communications with their staff on the subject. Regular, targeted workplace comms around menopause provisions will alert staff to its availability, increase uptake and – perhaps most importantly – encourage open discussion among colleagues.
Preppy’s research found that, of the companies that do communicate their menopause policies and support, the majority (54%) use a dedicated benefits platform to do so. Others (47%) use their company intranet to communicate with staff, while printed material (35%) is also used. Email and in-person or remote talks, seminars and presentations were both used by 13%, while high-profile employers such as HSBC and IBM have produced bespoke video content.
So, what does good internal comms around menopause look like?
- It’s up-front – if you have a menopause policy in place, shout about it. Include it in recruitment ads and your company’s LinkedIn profile and make your workplace more attractive to highly qualified female talent.
- It’s clear – spell out the policies and provisions you have in place. Many women still find menopause embarrassing to discuss and may be reluctant to ask for the provisions they need.
- It’s empathetic – but never patronising. Tone of voice is vital when communicating to a group of people who are mature, experienced and capable (and may be prone to sudden fits of rage).
- It’s regular – putting out a one-off campaign around something that is undeniably a hot topic can look like virtue-signalling. Regular communications prove your business’s ongoing commitment to supporting its female staff.
- It lets women speak – everyone’s experience of menopause is unique, so avoid a top-down approach in your comms. Facilitate discussion and let your female colleagues’ voices be heard.
To find out how Wardour can help with your workplace communications around menopause, pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you.
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