GTP20: Why menopause awareness is important

Auctus Management Group Ltd

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2020 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2020 this involves 8 free workshops taking place between 2nd March and 27th March, culminating in a full-day Growth Through People conference on 2nd April. In addition, throughout the campaign the Chambers will be publishing thought leadership podcasts, videos and blog content such as this.

Thanks to our Headline Sponsors – Prime Accountants Group, Aston University, Curium Solutions and CIPD - all workshops are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more and register to attend Growth Through People workshops here, and the Growth Through People conference here.

Why shouldn’t we talk about menopause? The subject is often seen as a taboo, and deemed too personal to be discussed in a business environment, but times are changing. We, like many other businesses, take the wellbeing of our employees and workers very seriously.  In our offices we have a network of fully trained Wellbeing Champions in place, we have a suite of policies to support our Wellbeing Culture, and we have trained Mental Health First Aiders who regularly communicate to our employees on wellbeing topics.  Previously, people didn’t see menopause as impacting on wellbeing, but after more studies have been conducted, it clearly shows that menopause fits centrally into the topic of wellbeing. 

The average age of the Menopause in the UK is 51, however 1 in 10 women experience it before the age of 40, that includes women under 30, and although rare women under 20, the menopause affects women for an average of 8 years of their working life. In a survey led by Radio 4 Women’s Hour, 48% of women said that menopause had a negative impact on their mental health and mood, and a further 50% of women found work difficult during this time. Without support, awareness or the confidence to talk openly about their condition and symptoms, this feeling could result in the symptoms getting worse, the person having time out of work, or in extreme cases giving up work (research states 10%).

As specialists in a male dominated sector, we believe it is still important to address topics like menopause. Afterall, we have female members of employed and contracted staff to the business, and they have partners or family members who could become potential support. We have focused on creating an internal support system for our office and employed staff, as studies have shown, the effects of the Menopause can lead to mental health issues, in particular depression.

Research has shown since 2016, the employment rate for women in the UK was nearly 70%, this is among the highest since records began in 1971. Over the last four years the number of women over the age of 50 has also increased, a trend predicted to continue. Employers have responsibilities for the health and safety of all their employees, and there are clear business reasons for proactively managing an age-diverse workforce.

The Menopause Policy and Guidance breaks down the symptoms and furthers education, information and signposts to further reading.  It outlines the responsibilities for HR, Managers and Employees and gives guidance, to encourage positive and supportive conversations.  Sadly, many people still think that menopause is just hot flushes, and there so many more symptoms than this.  Severe menopausal symptoms and their consequences may combine to have a substantial adverse effect on normal day to day activities - potentially meeting the legal definition of a disability under the Equality Act.

We are fortunate that we employ an Occupational Health Nurse, who is equipped to carry out assessments, give support/advice and to signpost to specialist information on Menopause, the nurse also supports with suggested adjustments and monitors employees through the menopause, to provide ongoing support. And as an added support avenue, we are trialling a group ‘tea and talk’ session that is open to any gender looking for advice and information on the subject, all sessions are held in a confidential safe space.

Russell Bradshaw
Group HSQE Manager
Auctus Management Group Ltd