Last year, I was proud to unveil Crawford’s comprehensive menopause framework in the UK. As part of the framework, Crawford offers dedicated menopause counselling before, during and after the onset of symptoms, through its Health Assured employee assistance program. We have also amended our sickness policy to include optional menopause additional leave of up to 10 days for women experiencing symptoms of menopause.
I also wanted to break the taboo on this subject and the conversation has certainly moved on, but a lack of menopause awareness and support is generating a 'massive and silent cost for many organisations'. Research shows the cost of menopausal women leaving the workforce and the associated costs of rehiring and retraining people, as a result, is a staggering £10billion. According to the Fawcett Society, one in 10 women who were employed during menopause left their job due to symptoms including insomnia, hot flushes, migraine, muscle and joint pain and depression. More than a quarter took time off.
To really break this taboo and push menopause discussion into the open, we need more inspirational menopausal women and male allies. Positive examples of menopausal women in popular culture or the C-suite are still few and far between. Despite major gains in mental health awareness, “the change” is still stigmatized and often met with silence. That’s due, in part, to a toxic combination of ageism and reticence about women’s health.
Menopause often occurs at a time when many women move into top leadership roles in their careers. An open and honest dialogue needs to begin about how menopausal symptoms can impact a leader and what methods are in place to help her manage her symptoms at work. It was for this reason that we invited Over the Bloody Moon to our London offices on World Menopause Day.
Their innovative XPO allowed employees to find out more about how to own the menopause and understand the support available to them at Crawford. A number of male colleagues also took on the can you take the heat challenge by wearing a MenoVest to better understand a hot flush experience. Feedback from colleagues included:
“Great to be involved and learnt a lot today on the whole subject. Wearing the MenoVest certainly brought it home.” Paul Ritchie, Client Account Director
“Thanks for the opportunity to have the experience. Great to learn a little more about something which is so important.”
Andrew Bart, CEO, International Operations
“A great learning experience this afternoon, the MenoVest achieved its objective for me. Feeling much more aware!” Lee Sadowski, Managing Director, Crawford Contractor Connection
“Great opportunity to continue the conversation and raise much needed awareness. Much more to do but fantastic to see continued progress.” Philip Madeley, Client Account Director
We need to continue to give women the environment and support they need to manage their symptoms, remain in work, and continue to perform to the best of their ability. That starts by talking openly about the very real effect menopause can have on women’s personal and professional lives, and the implications for their employers. If the women in the C-suite want perceptions of menopause to change, they can’t wait for an inspirational menopausal woman to come along. They’ve got to be her!