Out-Law News

Managers lack understanding of menopause and don’t know what to do, study shows

Kate Dodd tells HRNews about a menopause product designed to help support women at work


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  • Transcript

    Managers lack a basic understanding of menopause and give ‘unacceptable’ responses when the issue is raised with them. Three in 10 admitted they were shocked when confronted with people suffering menopause symptoms and a quarter did not know what to do. So how should this be addressed? We have a suggestion.

    Those are the findings of new research by Perspectus carried out on 2,000 women and men of various working ages and is covered in some detail by People Management. In 'Pause for Thought: Reflecting on Menopause in the Workplace’ just 37% of managers said they were offered training around menopause, 27% said they were shocked when confronted with people suffering menopause symptoms and a quarter, 25%, did not know what to do. Of the managers questioned, 16% said they thought they were being lied to, 9% felt the “complainant was making a fuss about nothing” and 8% chose to ignore the employee completely. 49% of women aged 45 and over said they did not feel comfortable talking to a line manager about menopausal symptoms.

    People Management covers two important issues highlighted by this research which impact employers directly – the talent war and the legal and reputational risk. Deborah Garlick, CEO of training provider Henpicked. told People Management: “We’re an ageing population in the UK and the workplace talent pool is shrinking. More and more employers are indicating that they are not able to fill vacancies with the required talent. Being menopause friendly helps retain and attract employees to an organisation.” The evidence backs her up. A survey of 20,000 women by health app Peppy found three quarters of women had considered resigning or reducing their hours because of a lack of menopause support. 

    On the legal and financial implications, Garlick is quoted again. She says: “We’ve also seen a significant increase in tribunals mentioning menopause as a reason for discrimination with more employers losing at tribunals. This detracts from a good employer brand as well as costing in legal fees and fines.”

    She is right about the rise in tribunal claims and that’s despite the fact that back in January MPs rejected a recommendation by the Women and Equalities Committee to include menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. In recent months we have seen a sharp rise in the number of discrimination and harassment claims citing menopause. So, it’s definitely a risk.
    This is an issue that our clients recognise and it’s something we have been working with them to address, with help from Pinsent Masons’ diversity and inclusion consultancy, Brook Graham. To that end, the team has developed what is best described as a ‘menopause product’ which we can now hear more about. D&I specialist Kate Dodd is head of Brook Graham. Earlier I spoke to Kate to find out more about it: 

    Kate Dodd: “Yes, so we have created this product and it is absolutely specific to menopause because really there is nothing else like menopause in the workplace, there is nothing that is not a protected characteristic that does have such a detrimental effect, essentially, on 50% or more of a company's population. So, the product essentially is based around law, making sure that a business is legally compliant, it’s based around learning, upskilling, training and also around diversity and inclusion consultancy, so looking at how to analyse what's currently happening in your business and how to then put interventions in place to create lasting change.”
    Joe Glavina: “I guess clients would like to know if it’s available now and what it costs.”   

    Kate Dodd: “Yes, the product is available, we are working with our clients on very many aspects of diversity and inclusion all the time, as you can imagine, including menopause. It’s not an off-the-shelf product. There is always going to be a cost associated with these things, but it is a fixed price, essentially, for the different aspects of what businesses need. So, if a business has a strategy in place great, we would review that from a legal perspective, have a look at other policies and see where menopause touches those policies and ensure that they are legally compliant, but also best practice. From the education side, there is a variety of different types of work that we could do, whether that's through e-learning, although our preference, obviously, is face-to-face, or via Teams in a live setting to allow people to ask questions and to create those learning opportunities, and also one-to-one, or small groups, training around having difficult conversations because it's really hard to talk about menopause and you need to equip managers with the language, and with the skills, in order to have those conversations with individuals. Then on the consultancy side can touch us lots of different things. So, from setting up an employee network group around menopause, to supporting that, through to building a business's understanding of menopause through talking to its employees about what's currently happening, where there are pockets of good practice, highlighting those, where there's issues highlighting those, creating a lasting strategy. Also, one thing that we do which is really popular is women's career development programmes that are specifically aimed at women who are at risk of potentially falling out of the business because of menopause or because of, you know, feeling that they can't juggle everything with things that are going on, as well as the women's career development programmes, one-to-one coaching as well for often very high level women in a business who just need a bit of additional support at a particular time.”

    If you would like to know more about the menopause product or, more generally, if you’d like help to raise awareness of menopause and improve support for women in your business, then please do contact Kate – her details are there on the screen for you. 


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