Tackling the taboo around menopause

We made a commitment as a team to ensure we broke the “menopause taboo” as part of our ongoing social values programme. To coincide with Menopause Awareness Month, our culture lead Sam Sharwin gives an update on how we’re doing, and why it’s so important!

When it comes to talking about menopause in the workplace it’s still a taboo subject with stigma attached. It’s getting better but there’s still a long way to go. It’s widely recognised by research, that it’s in the workplace where women find their symptoms the most difficult to manage. Often women are embarrassed and even fear they’ll be discriminated against so they don’t disclose their difficulty of working while managing symptoms.

It’s a massive cause of women leaving work, and if it doesn’t get addressed it won’t get any better. It’s too big an issue not to change how we talk about ‘the change’. Women make up half the workforce, women over 50 are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace, 80% will experience some symptoms and yet almost 1 million UK women will make the difficult decision to leave their jobs this year because of menopausal symptoms. There are 15.5 million women experiencing varying stages of menopausal transition, more commonly known as perimenopause and these symptoms can last between two and twelve years, if not longer.

The best way I’ve heard the menopause described is as “Puberty in reverse”.
When oestrogen levels start to decline they can have a huge effect on you biologically. But we know it’s not just physical changes that your body will go through. Changes in your hormones during menopause can impact your mental health with feelings of anxiety, stress and even depression. During this time women can feel very isolated and lose their confidence which is ultimately one of the reasons women may leave their jobs. 

Surprisingly, despite the huge impact menopause has in the workplace, having a menopause policy is not a legal requirement.

At Regital we are putting the health and wellbeing of our team first. We realise it will affect our people and their relationships regardless of gender so we wanted to raise awareness within our team and offer support.

So what have we done so far…

But I would say the most important thing we have done is to start talking about it openly, positively and respectively in a work environment. Whilst discussing and trying to understand just how much perimenopause and menopause can affect relationships. With the home life / work life lines still blurred from covid times it’s really important to support our team as both will affect the other.

Ultimately, discussing the menopause should be as easy as talking about the weather. We want to continue having good conversations around menopause not just at work but in life. It’s a subject we never used to talk about, growing up it was never discussed and now we have the knowledge and the confidence to. We know it’s not just something that happens to “older” people, perimenopause symptoms can arise in your 20s and if you have had treatment for cancer you will almost certainly experience symptoms.

In Japan there is no word for menopause it’s simply referred to as “Second Spring” I like this phrase and think the Japanese have the right idea.