Leading Lawyer Calls On Businesses To Do More And Support Women In The Workplace
A leading employment lawyer is hoping that this year’s World Menopause Day (18 October) will focus the minds of business leaders to recognise how menopause is a workplace issue that should have a key part in any wellbeing strategy.
World Menopause Day is held every year to help raise awareness of the menopause and to support options to improve health and well-being for women in mid-life and beyond.
According to Jenny Arrowsmith, a partner at Irwin Mitchell, businesses will continue to lose skilled workers if they continue to disregard the significance of how menopause symptoms such as joint pain, hot flushes, memory loss, fatigue and anxiety, can dramatically impact performance at work.
Earlier this year the law firm commissioned YouGov to ask over 1,000 HR decision makers from working across British businesses about menopause. According to the survey*, only 13% of organisations with a high representation of women in their workforce, had a menopausal policy. It also found that only one in five (21%) employers consider menopausal symptoms during the performance reviews of female staff.
Jenny Arrowsmith, who has spoken to hundreds of businesses about menopause, says that she has seen menopause being more openly discussed this year and rightly recognised as something employers should be giving better support on. She’s seen an increased interest from HR and business leaders to know and do more and reports some businesses being very proactive to discuss menopause impact in the workplace and facilitate appropriate support. She also believes much more can be done.
Expert Opinion“Menopause has moved higher up the corporate agenda over the last couple of years. We’re talking about it more, seeing better awareness and hearing positive stories of how businesses have extended support. World Menopause Day is a great opportunity to continue the discussion.
“Opening up the discussion and providing a framework for support will help promote positive change within an organisation. It sets a framework for evidencing how it will approach conversations about the menopause, what support employees can expect to receive, and where they can access additional help. In doing so, it reduces the risk of costly disputes.
“There has been a significant rise in the number of employment tribunals where menopause is mentioned over the last two to three years and as awareness of this issue grows, we expect to see complaints increase further.
“Organisations that have woken up to the issue and are aware of the challenges that women face when going through the menopause are in a much stronger place to attract and retain colleagues who are often at the peak of their experience and have many more productive years ahead of them.” Jenny Arrowsmith, partner
Earlier this month the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Menopause published its concluding remarks in relation to its inquiry into the impact of menopause and the case for policy reform. It made a number of recommendations in relation to menopause in the workplace and called on government to coordinate and support an employer-led campaign to raise awareness of menopause in the workplace and help tackle the taboos surrounding menopause and work. It also said that the government must update and promote guidance for employers on best practice menopause at work policies and supporting interventions.
Key statistics from businesses surveyed:
- Almost three quarters (72%) of businesses do not have a menopause policy.
- Almost half (44%) of all the businesses that say they do not train their staff about the menopause admit to not having thought about it. 15% don’t consider it a priority whilst 7% claim that sensitivities and embarrassment about the issue hold them back.
- Only half of organisations questioned (50%) say they are confident that women in their organisation are feel able to talk about the menopause. Almost 1/3 (31%) say they are not confident and 1 in 5 say they’re don’t know.
- Within organisations where the proportion of women was the highest, the confidence levels amongst HR teams that employees are able to talk to their employer was the lowest (57%).
- Only 18% of organisations say they provide information about the menopause to their employees with 13% offering internal support groups.
- Larger organisations (250+ employees) consider issues around the menopause during performance reviews (27%) more than smaller businesses (10 to 49 employees) do (16%).
**All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1025 HD decision makers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th - 28th February 2022. The survey was carried out online.