Menopause at Work
Thea O'Connor, Creator of The Change, Workplace Wellbeing & Productivity Advisor
I’ve been talking to Human Resources managers recently about menopause in the workplace.
One question I ask is:
What would you need to see or hear or know, in order to invest in becoming menopause-friendly?
The typical response has been:
I would need to hear from my staff that this is an issue for them, that they would like some support for it.
This makes sense, to base policies and practices on staff need. However in this case, it’s problematic.
Why is this response problematic?
Many women won’t speak up about menopause due to the (unfounded) stigma associated with this life stage. As some of the working women I have interviewed put it:
“There is an unconscious bias that menopause means you are going into the last stage of your career.”
“I don’t feel it's something I can talk about openly without experiencing discrimination.”
“It felt secret and that I had to hide it. It's not acknowledged – we are only just starting to tackle mental health at work.”
In fact, when it comes to menopause awareness at work, we are in a similar stage to where mental health in the workplace was 10 – 15 years ago: people don’t speak up and don’t seek help due to fear of being stigmatised. This is costly, increasing the personal suffering of women as well as organisational costs.
So, I encourage you to take the lead and be proactive
There is enough evidence about what working women want, and what employers can do, to proceed...
The first steps is therefore to make conversations about menopause at work OK by working to reduce the stigma
I’ve developed some resources to help you think about how to do this:
How to talk to your boss
The case for becoming a menopause friendly workplace
Reducing stigma associated with menopause and starting workplace conversations.
Working Women’s Voices. A report summarising themes emerging from 1-1 interviews with Australian women transitioning through menopause at work.
You don’t have to keep hiding this natural cycle of life that half of humanity experiences!
The Change offers a safe way for working women to start (re) claiming their whole selves.