Welcome to the Glorieuses economic newsletter. Each month, we talk to you about economy, gender and race with an international perspective, and with the support of researchers.
Vous pouvez lire la version française, #Economie, ici.
June, 24th, 2021 – reading time: 8 minutes
Adapting to Menopause in the Working World
While the average age at the onset of menopause– a process that can last up to five years– is 51, it turns out that more and more menopausal people are working as part of companies. In the UK, these people even represent the fastest growing labour force. Like everything related to the functioning of the so-called “female” body, menopause is a deeply taboo period of life, at the intersection of gender and age discrimination.
The various physical and mental symptoms that postmenopausal people experience negatively affect their productivity, which is exacerbated by a lack of adaptation
on the part of the companies they work for. This is costly to both postmenopausal people and employers: 59% of people who experience symptoms during their menopause say it has negatively impacted their ability to work, and one in four people have considered leaving their job as a consequence.
“Each person experiences menopause in a unique way,” explains Deborah Garlick. Deborah Garlick is the director of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace and author of
Menopause. She has developed guidelines for companies on how to best cater for this time in their employees’ lives. “But the most common symptoms are fatigue and hot flushes. Psychological symptoms that are less talked about but which are very important can also affect work: difficulty concentrating and brain fog, anxiety and lack of self-confidence. » A UK study of more than 900 working cis women found that they considered the latter to be the most affecting their performance at work.
Breaking the taboo
“Most people going through menopause don’t dare talk about it because there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding this time of life,” says the author. “People believe it happens at a much older age than it actually does, that it means that the person is nearing the end of their career and that they are not going to work as well anymore.” It then becomes difficult for people going through menopause to talk about their difficulties with their employers, their colleagues or their manager.
For those who do, it can sometimes be complicated. A report published by the Trades Union Congress states that one in five people who have spoken to their employers have faced criticism, teasing or harassment. 45% of those interviewed for this study said their employers did not understand the issues linked with menopause. Men, especially young men, were identified as the most difficult group to discuss this with.
“It all comes from a lack of comprehensive education around menopause and the menstrual cycle,” says Deborah Garlick. “It’s believed to be the mark of the end of a person’s life, but this is only the middle. This lack of education also means that some people will not realize that they are entering menopause, the process of which can sometimes begin long before
the end of their period. Education is the key to breaking this taboo. «
In order to compensate for this educational gap, Henpicked offers in-company training on the subject of menopause. “We offer both training for employees– to educate them on how to voice the menopausal experience and also to understand this process– and training for members of HR to adapt the place and pace of work to the people concerned,” explains its director. “This could range from adapting work schedules to very simple and practical things, like providing fans for offices. Just one hour of training can make a big difference.” Henpicked is even
awarding certifications to “menopause-friendly” companies, the first of which will be announced on June 25.
She cites the example of HSBC UK, which recently changed its uniforms to make them more breathable and adaptable to the body changes that occur during menopause. “We are often told that people appreciate that their employers take their health seriously, and that these people feel that
their employer will be there for them if they have a problem during their menopause,” says Deborah Garlick. “Training on the subject can only be beneficial for a company: it allows them to better understand a part of their employees’ lives which often goes unnoticed, it reduces sick leave and drops in performance and it contributes to creating a truly inclusive working environment.”
• Create a policy around menopause, or a guide that is accessible to everyone in the company. “It shows that you take this issue seriously and allows people who want to talk to their manager about it to be prepared.”
• Create a culture around menopause, for example by participating in World Menopause Day, which allows for discussion among colleagues.
• Make managers aware that they have the power to help: training will allow them to approach this issue more calmly when they are confronted with it.
• Support managers: allow them access to resources in occupational medicine and put them in contact with HR or with assistance programs for employees so that they
know what to do when asked for help.
• A suitable uniform: ensure that your uniforms are menopause-friendly– but that they do not stand out from others so as not to stigmatize them (for example, a company designed a specific uniform for menopausal employees, which nobody wanted to wear)– and that they are adaptable to heat.
• A pragmatic approach to the workplace: allow employees to work in places with a temperature that suits them, with easily accessible windows and refreshments.
MESSAGE FROM OUR PARTNER
For more than a hundred years, L’Oréal has been dedicated to beauty professions. With an international portfolio of 34 brands, the group managed to achieve a turnover of 29,9 billion euros in 2019 and has more than 88 000 collaborators around the globe.
L’Oréal is an all time leader regarding professional equality. In 2019, women represented 70 % of the total workforce, 53 % of the members of our board of directors, 30 % of the members of our executive committee and 54 % of strategic
In 2019, L’Oréal has been ranked in the “TOP 5 Worldwide” by Equileap, first database to rank 3 500 businesses listed in the stock exchange. The group is also named in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index 2020, which values businesses engaged in professional equality.