The British Standards Institution’s “Second Glass Ceiling” whitepaper is yet another reminder of the importance of addressing menopause in the workplace. There is no doubt that, left unaddressed, menopause represents a major barrier to career progression, enjoyment and fulfilment for many. The cost to the business as well as to individuals who feel unable to work through their menopause due to lack of support or understanding is far too high.
Awareness has grown exponentially in the last two years and most employers are aware it is no longer acceptable to not support menopause in the workplace. At the same time employees are increasingly aware of their right ask for help and expect to receive it.
But how, in the words of the white paper, can you turn ambition into action? Just where do employers start? And what can you, as an employee, do to help?
Helping your employer become menopause friendly
Like any awkward personal conversation, it can be tricky knowing where to start. But, once you get talking, it becomes easier, people share their thoughts and feelings and any difficulties can start to resolve.
A good way to break the ice is to ask your employer to host a talk or training session from an outside speaker to take the onus off colleagues to start the ball rolling. It will help to lift the lid on the issue and open the dialogue allowing your colleagues’ concerns to be voiced so your employer understands what’s getting in the way of people being at their best at work.
With the subject out in the open, advocates and allies will usually come forwards: they are key to cascading information and support others who may feel less confident about speaking out. Remember to involve senior male managers, young men and women too: menopause is a whole workplace issue!