CIPD’s menopause work 

In March 2019, the CIPD launched a suite of resources and guidance on the menopause – our aim is for every organisation to break down the stigma and create menopause-friendly workplaces. The big interest our launch generated in the media and among our membership showed that we were pushing at an open door in many ways. Two years ago, our research showed that 10% of organisations had a framework to support women experiencing menopause transition. Now, that percentage has risen to almost a quarter (24%) which shows progress. We think the tide is starting to turn about the menopause, with more awareness and demand for change building all the time. 

CIPD’s work with the Wellbeing of Women 

We were delighted to join the Wellbeing of Women’s roundtable discussion in October of last year, to kick start their Menopause Workplace Pledge. The event brought together a range of experts, practitioners and people with lived experience of menopause transition and the charity’s patron the Countess of Wessex, to put the spotlight on how workplaces can be a positive catalyst for change when it comes to supporting those experiencing menopause transition.  

We have signed up to the pledge at the CIPD and continue to promote it to our membership and beyond. We hope every organisation will follow suit and sign the Pledge. Inside the CIPD we have our own Menopause policy, dedicated guidance for our line managers and regular open conversations around the menopause. We are also in the process of recruiting and training volunteers to become menopause champions who will provide further support. The CIPD is a place where people feel comfortable to talk openly about menopause and where they are able to access support and guidance when they need it – whether for themselves or for others. 

Wellbeing of Women’s work 

With the expected imminent publication of the Women’s Health Strategy for England, we know that menopause and health in the workplace will feature as key priorities.

It’s about time. The Government’s own consultation highlighted how little menopause support women receive, with many reporting that symptoms were not taken seriously and more than nine in 10 aged 40-59 saying they did not have enough information about it.

From speaking to women, and through research studies, we also know that the workplace is where many often struggle to manage their symptoms the most. 

Menopause is a natural part of getting older and typically occurs when women are in their prime, often at the peak of their careers. It is a pivotal and often challenging time in a woman’s life: about three in four will experience symptoms, such as hot flushes, fatigue, ‘brain fog’ and lack of concentration. For one in four women, these symptoms will be severe. Some women, like our Ambassador Carol Vorderman, can experience anxiousness and depression. In extreme cases, they may feel suicidal.

Without greater awareness of menopause and adequate support in the workplace, women can worry about talking openly about their symptoms for fear of discrimination and they may struggle with their productivity. They risk feeling inadequate in their role, which will in turn affect their mental wellbeing. Estimates suggest that around one million women have already quit their jobs due to difficulties managing the menopause.

There is also a knock-on effect for employers and businesses. The burden on the economy due to productivity losses caused by menopause globally can total more than $150 billion. And with some women feeling as if they have no choice but to leave their jobs, this not only drains companies of valuable talent and experience, but also contributes to a lack of diversity, particularly at senior management level, and the gender pay gap. 

Thankfully, the tide is starting to turn

More than six hundred employers have signed up to the Wellbeing of Women’s Menopause Workplace Pledge in just six months. Each one is committed to making tangible changes to support their workforce.

Many, like Channel 4, Co-op and AstraZeneca, have menopause policies in place. Others, such as Severn Trent Water, TSB and Standard Chartered, organise regular training and information sessions for staff. The newspaper publisher News UK will cover the cost of NHS prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and provide desk fans to help with hot flushes.

Meanwhile, Tesco is changing its in-store uniform to include more breathable fabric so that employees experiencing menopause symptoms feel more comfortable at work.

Menopause in the workplace is an important issue, as evidenced by it being a key focus of the UK Menopause Taskforce – a cross-government initiative involving all four nations. We are delighted that our Menopause Workplace Pledge campaign, which was launched in partnership with Hello! Magazine and Bupa, is already helping employers take positive action. We’re now calling on others to follow their lead and sign up. 

Normalising menopause in the workplace will benefit everyone.

  • Women will feel happier and more comfortable at work.
  • Colleagues will understand the impact of menopause and be more aware of how they can support women in the workplace as well as friends and family.
  • Businesses will retain their staff and all the knowledge, expertise and creativity they bring.
  • Workplaces will become more diverse and inclusive.

More widely, supporting women to remain in work – including those who may be the main or only breadwinner in the family or holding down multiple jobs – will help ensure greater equality in pay and fewer pension disparities caused by women leaving the workforce prematurely. 

We’re in the middle of a ‘menopause revolution’. Through our Menopause Workplace Pledge, there is real opportunity to effect positive change for any person affected by the menopause, as well as businesses and our wider society – and we hope you will join us in this exciting movement and make a difference for your colleagues too. 

Are you an employer that wants to lead the way in menopause support? Sign up to the Menopause Workplace Pledge and support your colleagues today.

Would you like your workplace to sign up to the Menopause Workplace Pledge? Join our campaign and help us influence more organisations to sign our pledge. 

What happens now

We at the CIPD continue to be active in the public policy space in relation to menopause support. In 2019 we launched our Menopause Manifesto and continue to call for these changes. We fed into the 50 Plus Choices: Employer Taskforce and report Menopause and Employment – how to enable fulfilling working lives.The CIPD has also recently given evidence to two parliamentary inquiries on the menopause, one by the APPG on the Menopause and the second launched by the Women and Equalities Select Committee. It’s very encouraging to see the parliamentary spotlight on this issue.

About the authors

Claire McCartney, Senior Policy Adviser, Resourcing and Inclusion

Claire specialises in the areas of equality, diversity and inclusion, flexible working, resourcing and talent management. She has also conducted research into meaning and trust at work, age diversity, workplace carers and enterprise and has worked on a number of international projects. She is the author of several reports and articles and regularly presents at seminars and conferences.

Janet Lindsay: CEO of Wellbeing of Women

Janet Lindsay is CEO of Wellbeing of Women, the leading charity dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of women, girls and babies through research, education, and advocacy. She started her career working for a global advertising agency before running her own communications agency. Prior to joining Wellbeing of Women, Janet worked for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and Starlight Children’s Foundation in fundraising and communications.

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