Why it’s time to break the taboo on menopause.
Menopause has a profound impact on eight out of 10 working women and dents the bottom line of employers, yet the lack of awareness and stigma around this subject means very few people are willing to talk about it. As a result, thousands of women in insurance every year do not access or receive the support they need at what can be a pivotal time in their working lives, hindering productivity and, in extreme cases, costing talented women their careers.
It may surprise some to learn that, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), women over 50 are the fastest-growing demographic in the UK workplace. Meanwhile, a recent survey by Standard Chartered and the Fawcett Society estimated around 130,000 of the million or so employees in the UK financial services sector may be dealing with menopausal transition at any given time. Roughly three quarters of those women will experience physical or psychological symptoms including hot flushes, migraines, brain fog, depression, insomnia, irritability, and loss of self-confidence, with one in four suffering these symptoms severely.
It’s shocking to find out that, according to CIPD, three in five menopausal women are negatively affected at work and as many as 900,000 have left their jobs because of menopausal symptoms.
While great strides are being made in recognising the importance of employee mental health and wellbeing and in creating flexible, inclusive, and equitable work environments, little or nothing is said about menopause, which sits squarely within all of these categories. With so many of our colleagues affected, that needs to change.
Crawford is using World Menopause Day as a platform to break the taboo on this subject, introducing dedicated guidance, access to professional counselling and medical advice and additional sick leave for anyone affected by the issues arising from menopause, in addition to a range of information and support materials.
We are also partnering with menopause specialists Henpicked, who will train our managers in menopause awareness to help them understand and identify symptoms, handle potentially sensitive conversations, and provide appropriate support, including making reasonable adjustments to working arrangements.
Employee wellbeing is a priority, and above all, our goal is to create an environment in which menopausal women are comfortable by equipping all our employees and managers with the knowledge and resources to speak openly, honestly and in confidence about these issues. By doing this, we hope no-one fails to get the help they need or suffers in silence because they are worried about talking about their experience.
However, it is important to note that menopause is not just an employee wellbeing issue – there are serious business implications to consider too. According to CIPD, menopause costs $150 billion in global productivity losses and costs the UK economy 14 million workdays every year as women take time off work to cope with the symptoms.
As menopause transition typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 – around the time many women will be considering a move into senior leadership positions – failing to support these women will lead many to consider leaving the industry at or near the peak of their careers. This is a grievous waste of talent the insurance industry simply cannot afford, particularly given the ongoing efforts to increase women representation at executive level.
We need 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. It's time to break the taboo.