Report shows half of women are afraid to mention menopause at work and female leaders must speak up 

Almost half (48%) of menopausal or post-menopausal women don’t feel comfortable discussing the menopause at work according to a new report from GenM, the menopause partner for brands such as Co-op, Royal Mail and M&S. GenM’s new ‘Opportunity Report’ reveals that women’s reluctance to speak on the topic at work stems from a fear of being marginalised, discriminated against, or negatively perceived, the report details. A further 1 in 3 women surveyed said they would feel embarrassed to talk about the menopause.

With recent research showing that almost a quarter of women with strong menopause symptoms women have been forced to quit jobs, unsupportive workplaces can have a real impact on those in this life stage. This tallies with findings from GenM’s existing ‘Invisibility Report’ which revealed that 88% of women wish their workplaces were better set up for menopausal colleagues while over half (52%) of menopausal women say their employer knows nothing or very little about the menopause.

“Women of menopausal age are the fastest growing workforce demographic, so it’s a worrying thought that half of them don’t feel able to speak about it in the workplace,” says Heather Jackson, co-founder of GenM. “Whilst it’s important for business leaders to educate themselves on the menopause, we also need to change the way we see menopause as a society. To normalise the conversation, we need female leaders, in and out of the workplace, to speak up.

“Men also have a part to play in breaking the stigma. In fact, our report shows a third of men (32%) have never had a single conversation about the menopause, which highlights the scale of the issue.”

GenM was co-founded by Heather Jackson and Sam Simister, two businesswomen who found the menopause a nightmare to navigate and suddenly felt invisible to brands with whom they had built loyalty over the years. Together, they created GenM with a clear aim: to unite responsible brands and organisations to improve the menopause experience, normalise the conversation, and support under-served menopausal consumers and employees.

GenM’s Partner brands are already making progress to support menopausal staff at work. The Co-op has enhanced its menopause policy with a series of new initiatives, including a menopause support guide for its 4,500 managers. Going further, the leading retailer has made the free guide publicly available to other employers in a bid to break menopause taboo in the workplace.

Additionally, WW (formally known as Weight Watchers) has implemented its ‘Menopause Matters’ drive, which includes 26 weeks of paid leave; flexible working options; provision of safe spaces and equipment such as a desk fans. The employer has also launched menopause training for mental health first aiders and managers to ensure they have the knowledge required to support menopausal colleagues.

Another example of household brands bolstering their menopause support is Royal Mail. The delivery giant recently launched its ‘Let’s Talk Menopause’ internal campaign to raise awareness, normalise the conversation, and provider greater education.

Heather adds, “It’s important to remember that the menopause can’t be dealt with purely as a workplace issue. The menopause can affect every area of life for those going through it, and it touches every area of business. For true progress, we need to see it as the sum of all parts”.