Intelligent CXO Issue 14 - Page 27

BUSINESS STRATEGY
What are the gaps between the menopause transition and the workplace / labour market ?
There are some physiological changes , like pregnancy , that are very well-spoken about in the workplace . Rightly , workplaces have policies in place that can help women through this time and can support them , whereas with the menopause , there isn ’ t at all . It ' s just recently we are speaking about it more openly .
Employers and workplaces don ' t actively support these women and talk about it – those formal policies and support systems are not available . The menopause is not a very attractive subject to talk about because it ' s part of the ageing process , which is seen quite negatively , especially in the workplace .
What is the common response from co-workers and employers about the menopause and how can these attitudes directly impact female employees ?
I see lots of women , who are in executive and managerial positions , and they say that they don ' t talk about the menopause and there isn ' t a support system in place . I ask them , ‘ Have you spoken to anyone at work ?’ But they often tell me , ‘ Well , who do I speak to ?’ We need to create a clear communication path between the employee and the workplace .
There are a couple of companies that I have seen that have a formal policy for the menopause , and within that , they have also started raising awareness in the workplace .
How can women be better supported in the office , both by employers and the government , when experiencing this transition ?
Hopefully , one day , the UK Government will catch up and have policies around the menopause . We have specific laws for equality , diversity and for health and safety at work . There have been several cases against employers , where these laws have been used to cite discrimination against employees , and they have been successful . So , employers can also protect themselves by creating these menopause policies , which not only helps them but their employees , too .
What measures can employers take to ensure a positive environment , one where the menopause is openly accepted and talked about ?
The first thing is to have that easy and simple line of communication . Also , have a ‘ Menopause Champion ' within your team , so it is communicated that this is the person you turn to for information . The ‘ Menopause Champion ’ has to be a person who is interested in the topic and is interested in listening to women and increasing their knowledge about the menopause .
The next step would be to have a structured policy in place and that it is distributed amongst all members of the team . So , everybody ' s clear that if you ' re going through menopause or if your colleague is going through it and you see her struggling , you point her in the right direction : you tell her that here ' s the confidant that you can speak to and here ' s the company ' s policy on it . x
For example , they ' ve started giving some lunchtime webinars that are open to all employees to attend . They also have a ‘ Menopause Champion ’ – a nonmedical person within the workplace team that has been designated as the first point of contact for these women .
We , at OMC , have set up structured and formal training for workplaces , as well as raising awareness for executives and line managers .
I ' ve also spoken to employers who ’ ve admitted they wouldn ' t know how to approach it . ‘ How would you speak to someone like that without offending them ? Can I say , oh , I can see you ' re having a hot flush , or you ' re not your usual self ? Shall we speak about it ? Can I point you in the right direction to get help ?’ So , in regard to the menopause , there ’ s anxiety for employers as well .
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