Why normalising menopause in the workplace is good for business

Why normalising menopause in the workplace is good for business

Menopause has long been a taboo topic within the workplace, with few women being comfortable to talk about their symptoms with their employers.

Research tells us that to date, only one in five women feel comfortable disclosing their menopause to their employers due to the stigma which they feel exists. But times are changing.

In December 2022, LinkedIn shared data that revealed managing menopause in the workplace is a key issue for organisations, rating it sixteenth in importance out of 100.

Normalising the topic of menopause in the workplace makes good business sense. Women make up close to 50 per cent of Australia’s working population, so it’s important to understand the impact on their wellbeing and how employers can support them with a safe and inclusive environment during their menopausal transition.

Seventy-eight per cent of those likely to be experiencing peri-menopause (the time during which fertility begins to diminish and hormones fluctuate, causing physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms) remain in the workforce. This is the same time that they are likely to be in the prime of their careers and moving towards senior management and leadership roles.

Yet, 50 per cent said they are less likely to apply for a promotion, and 25 per cent suggest they will leave before their retirement. Fifty-one per cent are choosing to take leave due to their symptoms, and miss attending work.

Eighty per cent of women experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms in the workplace said that these are bothersome. It can impede them in being their best self at work, which can slow down the closing of the gender pay gap if it is not attended to.

Be Your Own Leadership Coach by Karen Stein

Be Your Own Leadership Coach by Karen Stein.

What can be done to support women managing menopause in the workplace?

From a personal perspective, self-coaching can be a powerful tool to enable those challenged by their peri-menopausal symptoms in the workplace.

Data tells us that 90 per cent of women who are peri-menopausal have found it to impact them at work.

Symptoms, which include physical (hot flushes, insomnia, migraines, body aches and heavy periods), emotional and cognitive (including increased stress and anxiety, brain fog and forgetfulness, low mood, loss in confidence and the imposter syndrome) can get in the way of being able to thrive in the workplace. Many are simply surviving.

While it’s important to apply a ‘systems’ mindset when considering how to support these women to thrive in the workplace, many women can also personally benefit by apply self-coaching strategies in support of themselves.

Building your repertoire of self-coaching strategies can support you with managing your energy and time, building confidence, emotional regulation and self-awareness, and identifying your personal board of directors to support you.

These practices can alleviate your loss of confidence and imposter syndrome, and your altered emotional and cognitive state. They can support you with being mindful and noticing what’s in your control and can be altered by you, and what requires further support – whether from your employer, a medical professional or another provider of services.

Your intentional use of self-coaching practices can be in support of you to be your best self while transitioning though menopause, to enable you to have a long-lasting sustainable career.

Karen Stein

This article was written by Karen Stein.

Karen is an executive coach, author and partner at Deloitte. Her book Be Your Own Leadership Coach explores powerful self-coaching strategies so you can support your leadership of you and support yourself as you lead others. You can purchase a copy of her book here.