Four experts discuss menopause at work

Learn about the importance of approaching menopause support in the workplace with an intersectional lens, from four experts who debated the issue during the 2024 event, our digital INCLUSION Festival. 

The panelists talked about what has been achieved so far and shared the latest thinking on workplace policies. 

The experts were: moderator Colette Harris, Women’s Health Campaigner and Journalist, with panelists Kasia Zduniak, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion specialist, and a former DEI Manager in the public and private sectors; Lee Chambers, Director, Male Allies UK; and Dr Venessa Marie Perry, Organisational Psychologist, Health Resource Solutions, LLC.

1 Colette Harris, a journalist and women’s health campaigner who is also an author of six women’s health books.

“About 20 years ago I launched a magazine for women aged forty to sixty and had to get board approval for permission to use the word ‘menopause’ on our front cover.

“I’m really glad to see there has been an opening up of conversations about women’s health and I’m very pleased to talk about menopause support in the workplace, especially now I’m going through the menopause myself and I know how much your health really affects your ability to do your job.

“Progress so far has been very patchy and it completely depends on which organisation you are in, what kind of employee network groups are available and whether you’ve got people in the workplace comfortable talking about it.

“At the moment we rely on individual leaders and women to normalise health issues by talking about them and sharing their own experiences in a ‘micro-feminist’ way. 

“As a previous manager on women’s magazine, I’ve recruited women going through peri-menopause and menopause and I don’t have that sense of embarrassment raising these issues.

“At the moment it relies on individuals creating that culture of openness. Over the last few years, the conversation about mental health has opened up and now people are feeling more comfortable about talking about women’s health.

“But ageism is still to be tackled in the workplace and that overlaps with the menopause issue.

“When DEI starts to prioritise age, that will have an effect on menopause support.”

2 Dr Venessa Marie Perry is an Organisational Psychologist with Health Resource Solutions, LLC

“The US is very different from Europe in terms of allies and support. We’re just starting to have conversations about menopause – the current workplace climate means it is very challenging here to start having these intense conversations about women’s health.

“That’s because other workplace issues currently have priority, namely racism, sexism and ageism. These things are still a higher priority.”

3 Lee Chambers is the Director of Male Allies UK

“The most successful organisations offering menopause support don’t see it as a siloed issue but a lens across functions.

“There’s an element of menopause support in wellbeing, employee engagement and talent management.

“When leaders take that holistic approach, you see men sharing that journey, women creating spaces beyond the menopause café and really embedding that support across the organisation.

“Over the past five years I’ve seen lots of positive change.”

4 Kasia Zduniak, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion specialist

“There has been progress made around the menopause – in 2019 it was still defined by CIPD as the last taboo in the workplace, so it has moved from being the last taboo but it is still a stigma. Is the pace of change fast enough?

“It is important to note that by understanding the intersectional dimensions of menopause, employers can foster a more open and supportive culture. Supporting menopause with an intersectional approach significantly enhances employee well-being and aids in retaining a diverse and experienced workforce.

“Improvements made to support employees experiencing menopause symptoms will improve the experience at work for everyone, making it more inclusive, accessible and equitable.”

Colette Harris points to research from organisations such as the CIPD, The Fawcett Society and BSI Group, which held surveys to asked what women want in terms of workplace support.

Many of the adjustments are inexpensive and simple:

  • Flexibility in start times or working hours to help with sleep problems that can arise during menopause
  • Temperature control: providing fans and watercoolers in hot environments can help manage hot flashes
  • Focus and concentration support: having quieter office areas available and offering noise cancelling headphones for open spaces can make a big difference, as can agreeing and diarising protected time for focused work
  • Period products and additional/spare uniform available: to help with unpredictable periods and flooding during perimenopause will also go a long way to showing employees an organisation cares

You can access this menopause session on demand – as well as more than 55 more – by registering to become a Diversity Network Member here:

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