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Molly West: Menopause is the missing piece in the DEI puzzle

  • Publish Date: Posted over 1 year ago
  • Author: Molly West
Puzzle piece on pink background
You might have heard the statistic that women over 50 are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce...

With the average age for menopause 45-55, the number of people experiencing menopause at work is increasing, and for three out of five, the symptoms have a noticeably negative impact on them at work.

We can’t talk about gender equity without acknowledging that for many women, trans and non-binary people, menopause (and potentially debilitating symptoms) arrive at a crucial age for those looking to develop into leadership positions. 

While the conversation around menopause is on the rise, in reality few companies actually have policies to address it. 65% of employers don’t provide any menopause-specific support to employees. 

To address the changing workforce, there’s going to need to be a shift.

I was keen to hear from companies that are launching policies to support their staff, so I spoke to Rebecca Lemoru, HR Business Partner at Weber Shandwick, who launched one this month.

Why is menopause support so crucial?

As a society we always focus on what we can see, and lots of health issues are invisible. When I came to Weber Shandwick, creating policies around invisible health was a priority. And for menopause specifically, we talk about women having a seat at the table, but we don’t talk about what they need to do in those roles.

Basically, we put together the key data - and I was lucky enough to have Clare-Louise Knox’s expert support in this. 67% of our employees are women. We predicted that within that pool, 22 women could be going through severe menopause symptoms at any time - that’s a lot of people who are potentially struggling silently.

What does Weber Shandwick’s policy actually involve? 

People are able to take time off to deal with symptoms. We’ve used 10 days to create a benchmark, but they can take more if needed! On top of this, we’re running sessions and webinars, educating people at all levels on how to talk about these issues, and providing counselling sessions for those who need them. 

It’s the two headed monster of policy and awareness. Without awareness, policy just gathers dust. And without policy, people (especially managers) are understandably afraid to get sensitive things wrong.

What do you hope it will achieve? 

From a commercial perspective, we all know how competitive it is to get strong talent on board, and keep them. This policy reflects the changing workforce, and lets people know that we are going to show up for you and support you.

To put it quite simply, my hope with these policies is to foster and cultivate an environment where people feel they can be open about what they are going through. It signals that we want to know, we want to support, and we now have the mechanisms in place to do so.

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