The Mews Blog > Breaking taboos at Mews: menopause in the workplace
If you’ve read our blog posts on breaking HIV stigma and equity at Mews, you know we don’t shy away from hard conversations. In fact, we believe shining light on taboo topics is paramount to creating an inclusive and inspiring workplace.
Creating a safe space to discuss menopause
This brings us to menopause, a topic that deserves more attention and less stigma. To celebrate World Menopause Day, Women at Mews ERG curated an empowering session presented by Pooja Naidu (Senior Product Director) and Louise Archer (Sales Enablement Specialist).
These insightful ladies opened up about their symptoms, explained how to be an ally and shared resources for other women going through or approaching menopause. It's important to note that menopause can strain family relationships and friendships, too. In these cases, offering empathy and support will have a major positive impact on your loved one's mental well-being.
Why should companies care about menopause?
Menopause-aged women bring years of experience, wisdom, social networks and industry knowledge to their roles. Younger employees perceive them as role models and they’re often mentoring new team members.
Companies should treat menopause as they would any other health issue while striving to create an environment where employees and managers feel comfortable discussing necessary accommodations. Women experiencing menopause account for 30% of the labor force – and that number will only keep growing.
Unfortunately, the stigma persists: many women take time off work, cut back hours or even quit their jobs because of menopause.
To put things into perspective: menopause-related loss of productivity and medical expenses costs the U.S. economy $26.6 billion a year. The staggering number becomes less surprising once you learn only 4% of employers offer sick leave or additional support for menopause, such as access to hormone therapy and counseling.
What are the most common menopause symptoms?
Menopause has a big impact on the daily lives of employees and, by extension, their performance and attendance at work. Most women experience symptoms that can be mildly irritating, extremely intrusive, or anywhere in between: brain fog, lack of confidence, mood swings, problems with concentration, fatigue, self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.
Pooja and Louise shared the symptoms they deal with daily, including headaches, changes to vision, digestive issues and dietary intolerances, not feeling good enough and lowered consumption of info.
“Ordinarily, I'm quite extroverted, confident and strong, but menopause has made me more introverted,” shared Pooja. “I’m dealing with a lot of anxiety that I've never experienced before and wondering what happened to that woman I was yesterday.”
Around 90% of women who grapple with menopause don’t have a sympathetic ear, let alone any workplace support or official company guidelines. They rarely speak up about menopause due to fears of ageism and being perceived as less competent.
The silence is no longer acceptable – it’s time to acknowledge the effect menopause has on an individual’s career. At Mews, menopause-aged women are some of our most senior and skilled employees, so we want to do our best to support them.
How menopausal support looks at Mews
Here are some of the ways we ensure accommodations and workplace empathy for our colleagues affected by menopausal symptoms:
- Education and awareness. Mews is providing DE&I courses and awareness training to ensure everyone understands the need for menopause-related conversations and outreach.
- Psychological safety. Line managers are vital in supporting colleagues with menopausal symptoms. We try to empower everyone to convey their needs without fear of judgment.
- Workplace accommodations. Flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or at flexible times make managing menopausal symptoms much easier.
- Providing allyship. Did you know that even just openly talking about menopause can reduce the impact of symptoms such as anxiety? Allies at Mews are invested in learning more about menopause and empowering women to continue performing well in their roles.
The session ended with a firework of heart and clapping hand emojis, the virtual equivalent of a standing ovation. We asked Louise how it felt to receive so much understanding and support after being so vulnerable.
“Although I was genuinely terrified at first, I feel a lot more empowered after having this session,” she answered. “I learned to mask my symptoms at previous workplaces, so it’s fantastic to finally be able to talk openly about the impact of menopause at work. The support network at Mews is truly incredible and I’m super proud to be part of that.”
For anyone interested in learning more, Pooja and Louise shared their favorite books that cover menopause, citing them as life-changing:
- Davina McCall: ‘Menopausing – The positive roadmap to your second spring’
- Dr Louise Newson: ‘Preparing for the Perimenopause and Menopause’
- Dr Louise Newson: ‘The Definitive Guide to the Perimenopause and Menopause’
Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to discuss menopause in your current workplace. And if an inclusive working environment in which everyone is treated fairly sounds fantastic, why not take a look at our open roles?
Anu prefers unscrambling words over mincing them. Always punny, sometimes funny. You will find her if you want to in the garden unless it's pouring down with rain.
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