In recognition of World Menopause Day on 18 October, the CIPD joined the University of Birmingham’s business school to host an interactive discussion with regional experts on the challenges women face in their careers during the menopause.

The event included sharing of knowledge, personal experiences and research insights on menopause-related issues within the workplace, as well as discussions around specific organisational policies. 

Sanam Yaqub, Equality Diversity and Inclusion Lead at the University of Birmingham Dubai, welcomed speakers including Dr Pilar Rojas Gaviria, Associate Professor at University of Birmingham and Dr Camilla Quental, Associate Professor at New York University, Abu Dhabi, who shared insights from their recent research paper titled The Dialectic of Menopause Zest: Challenging Conventional Organizational Perceptions.

In stark contrast to the common narrative that often focuses on the negative aspects of menopause, the research paper spotlighted the positive and invigorating facets of the menopausal experience within the workplace. It emphasised that while it is important to initiate conversations around menopause at work, it is also crucial to encourage organisations to move beyond generic, medicalised perspectives and coping strategies and adopt an ‘education for all’ approach to avoid further stigmatisation of the topic.

The panel discussions steered towards organisational behaviour and policies concerning menopause. While the speakers acknowledged the importance of designating World Menopause Day for raising awareness, they raised concerns about its efficacy in fostering open dialogues about menopause. The conversation gravitated towards offering advice to companies seeking to formulate comprehensive policies, promote awareness, and educate employees – irrespective of gender – on the subject.

"The problem stems from organisations viewing menopause as a gender stereotype or a woman's issue. Shifting the perspective to perceive it as an organisational concern could pave the way for effective solutions collectively."

Cheryl Thornton, C-Suite HR and member of the CIPD Middle East Advisory Committee

Examples from countries such as the UK and France, which have introduced various initiatives to mitigate the stigmatisation of bodily functions, were shared. The discussion highlighted several barriers to establishing an inclusive work environment, primarily driven by cultural disparities that often hinder progress.

Find more support and guidance in our resources which provide a firsthand account of employees’ experiences of menopause at work and enable both people professionals and people managers to support their workforce.

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the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work. 

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