We all know that leaning in and having it all are challenges that many women face throughout their careers. From figuring out how to balance a new baby with a demanding career to the pay/gender gap, women are changing the fabric of the C Suite and beyond when it comes to workplace rights. And as many Gen X women are reaching menopause age, the stigma around age itself is front and center, as is the big taboo around menopause and how it is handled in the workplace.
With women being valued more and more for their contributions in the workplace, it’s time to have honest and open conversations about this phase of life. And with women often working well past retirement age to make ends meet, look for real talk about menopause to break through the ceiling as management realizes that ignoring it or even discriminating against mature women could have some serious repercussions.
A recent piece on Forbes.com gives seven tips on supporting women at work:
- Normalize menopause as a workplace conversation: encourage talk about the broad range of symptoms of menopause and not only think about hot flushes.
- Educate managers and colleagues on what menopause means in practice.
- Address menopause openly in absence and attendance policies and build into performance reviews.
- Encourage women to take responsibility for their own health by making changes to their diet and lifestyle, getting fresh air and exercise, and drinking plenty of water.
- Be open to reasonable adjustments in working patterns that can help manage different menopause symptoms.
- Offer coaching support to assess and develop strategies to manage symptoms.
- Celebrate menopause as a transition to the next career phase and provide planning so that women are able to reach their potential.
And since menopause is a global phenomenon, countries around the world are finding ways to innovate the workplace when it comes to menopausal women. Particularly innovative change is happening across the pond in the UK.
Scotland just held its first ever Menopause Conference this year and hopes to lobby the government to make menopause front and center when it comes to rights in the workplace, and Perth is planning the world’s only Menopause Festival in April of this year which will include a Menopause at Work seminar for HR professionals, trade unions, and employment lawyers to educate and inform when it comes to workplace issues. Also in the UK, a former female police officer in Nottinghamshire suffering from early onset menopause left work to seek treatment for her symptoms, but returned to develop a menopause management guide to advocate for women on the force. The guide contained information on everything from changing up a woman’s uniform to accommodate a changing body to making time for more bathroom breaks. We applaud the UK for acknowledging women, hopefully other countries will follow suit when it comes to making menopausal women a big part of the conversation when it comes to a fair and empathic workplace for all.