12 Oct Menopause in the workplace: Support is crucial
On World Menopause Day, Marco Pezzani, our Executive Sponsor for Mental Health & Wellbeing, explores how workplaces can offer menopause support, and how we are ramping up policies for our employees.
Sexism and ageism have found a joint target in menopause for too long, silencing people experiencing menopause and leaving them without the support, care and understanding they need. It feels shocking to me that menopause is just entering the national conversation, but in the workplace, we’re in a position to start driving change now.
Providing menopause support is about inclusion
According to recent studies, people who will experience menopause over the next few years account for nearly 50% of paid work in some countries. The more shocking statistic is that one million people in the UK could quit their jobs in 2022 due to the lack of adequate support. It’s simple. We can’t afford not to support people experiencing menopause in the workplace.
The actions we need to take go beyond improving wellbeing support and symptom management in the workplace. Menopause is a diverse experience that 50% of our population experiences, across women, some trans men and some non-binary people. We need to do more. Introducing menopause policies is an inclusion activity that must unite us all in raising awareness, increasing education and eradicating stigma.
50% of people feel uncomfortable discussing menopause at work
It’s worth doing a deep dive into the statistics to truly understand the task ahead. A report by GenM uncovered worrying statistics relating to the attitudes and perceptions towards menopause in the workplace.
- Almost nine in 10 people experiencing menopause wish their workplace were better set up for menopause
- More than half of menopausal or post-menopausal people said their employer knew nothing or little about menopause
- Almost half felt uncomfortable about discussing menopause at work.
Interestingly, and potentially just as big a concern, only a third of UK employees surveyed said they thought there was commercial value in understanding more about menopause in their specific job role or department.
In response to findings like these, we have already put in place several mechanisms to help our employees experiencing menopause.
Our Menopause support group
For us, it was important to listen to our employees to help us shape the menopause policies we implemented in the workplace.
We’re very lucky that our employees had already started raising awareness inside our organisation. By creating a menopause employee support group for people experiencing menopause and those supporting friends and family on the journey.
We’re immensely proud of their work and the value they have added to their colleagues and the organisation as a whole.
We have signed the Menopause Workplace Pledge
In signing the pledge, we’re committing to the following:
- Recognising that menopause can be an issue in the workplace and those going through it may need support
- Talking openly, positively and respectfully about menopause
- Actively supporting and informing your employees affected by the menopause
Through the pledge, we’re continuing to make our organisation a supportive and understanding place, particularly for any of our employees going through menopause.
How to support your people
It may seem overly simplistic, but the first and fastest way to reduce the stigma around a topic is to open honest discussion.
As with any potentially sensitive topic, it’s important that people feel capable of discussing and asking questions without fear of judgement in a safe and supportive space.
From there, the conversation can create a snowball effect. One discussion leads to another leading to wider conversations and education. It feels natural. But it’s purposeful and measured change as long as its reinforced with a board-level commitment towards menopause support.
Our top tips from our employee support group
- Remember, it’s often the ‘obvious question’ which is the one that is on everyone’s mind.
- People should enter discussions with an open mind – this is how we learn.
- Providing a supportive environment is key.
- Understand people want to learn more, so provide links to resources as a follow-up to the conversation.
Take time to reflect on World Menopause Day
World Menopause Day is an opportunity to reflect on and rethink the approach to this stage of life. Tackling the stigma and taboo around menopause in the workplace and offering quality support to all those who experience it. If you can do one thing today, it’s worth spending a little time reading up on the 49 official symptoms and reflecting on the impact they have on daily lives.
Discover more about our approach to inclusion, diversity and wellbeing at Ricoh.
Read more about how we’re improving gender diversity.
Hear from our CEO on why inclusion is core to our organisation.