Today is the 11th anniversary of World Menopause Day. Last year we launched a member survey into experiences of menopause at work and since then much has happened to shift the taboo culture around menopause.
In our survey, members described high levels of anxiety and depression. They described feeling unable to talk to line managers or colleagues about what they were experiencing. Women felt they were unsupported, pushed out of work, unable to access training or promotion opportunities. Women described being laughed at by colleagues, and so many women didn’t realise they were in menopause for many years, worrying they were seriously ill for another reason.
So we launched a new menopause toolkit, including a guide and model policies, to help members and reps make their workplaces more menopause friendly.
And we partnered with Henpicked to deliver online training to 100 members and 40 Community staff.
Our reps have been working hard to negotiate menopause policies, setting up menopause support groups and raising awareness of the issue at campaign stalls. Even small changes such as adjustments to uniform or sickness reporting can make a real difference to how women are supported to continue thriving at work.
One great example of this is the work being done at HMP Peterborough by Community rep Donna Turner. She’s working with her local management team to run a campaign stall for World Menopause Day 2020. They’ve developed a menopause policy for staff and have lots more exciting plans to come. Sodexo are also running online training for all employees next week with our training partner, Henpicked.
We know lots of you are working with your colleagues and managers on this and it will make a real change for the growing numbers of women who are experiencing menopause at work. One of the biggest things you can do to help women is to start openly discussing the menopause. Unless employers, line managers and colleagues understand the full and different impacts that the menopause can have on their work then we can’t begin to address them.
So start talking openly and encourage others to raise awareness at work over the next week, and beyond, about the menopause. Normalise the conversation so we can make sure that by this time next year, we’ve broken the taboo.
Lauren Crowley is head of equalities at Community. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.