The workplace is not fit for purpose when it comes to the menopause

It might be the latest buzzword in corporate feminism, but most companies are failing menopausal women, reports Rose Stokes

Monday 11 November 2019 18:05 GMT

Until very recently, “menopause” wasn’t a word you would hear much of, unless, of course, you were a woman “of a certain age”. Even then, it would have been used or heard only in hushed circles amongst friends, or at the GP surgery. The result is that this completely normal and natural biological stage – which almost every woman will pass through in her life – is yet another women’s health issue that is shrouded in stigma and shame. This, in turn, has fostered an environment in which women at every single stage of their hormonal lifecycle know very little about this complex and largely misunderstood process.

Medical research on related issues is far behind where it should be, when you consider that 13 million women in this country are currently aged between 50 and 64, and therefore likely to be going through changes in their bodies. It has also meant that those women experiencing the varied gamut of symptoms related to “the change” (as it is sometimes also referred to) are often misdiagnosed, leading to isolation, and in many cases, contributing to large emotional events, such as divorce, or leaving their jobs.

But things are changing. Efforts by campaigners both inside and outside of the workforce are starting to yield results. High-profile female celebrities are beginning to speak out about their experiences. Calls for more progressive government policy, led by a Labour MP, Carolyn Harris, and a Conservative MP, Rachel Maclean, are attracting attention. The Labour party has recently included provision for menopause regulations at work in its manifesto. Broader coverage of menopause in mainstream news, and documentaries such as The Truth About Menopause, by Mariella Frostrup, which aired on the BBC at the end of 2018, are delivering the issue into living rooms across the country. And, indeed, menopause has become the newest focus of diversity and inclusion efforts in the corporate world – a shift that has seen companies such as Channel 4 queueing up to show off their progressive internal policies.

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