That’s right, we said it.
Strides have been made in the workplace around supporting and talking about pregnancy, periods, and postpartum, but the reality of menopause and its impact on an individual are still considered taboo for many.
Menopause is a completely natural and complex transition that impacts almost all woman. According to Statistics Canada, there is an estimated 10 million women over the age of 40 in Canada, making up more than one quarter of the Canadian labour force, who are going through the transition of menopause or are postmenopausal. Despite the large impact, it is largely ignored and stigmatic, especially when it comes to the workplace.
Employers make commitments to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion, and are required to prevent discrimination as it relates to age and gender, yet a recent survey (Menopause Foundation of Canada) found that 74% of menopausal working people feel their employer is not supporting in helping them cope with their symptoms, or do not know if they have support.
Not only is menopause important to think about in terms of respect, equity, and inclusion, it’s critical as we think about the success of a business.
So, what can we do about it?
1. Start talking about it
We can only start to break the stigma if we open the dialogue to support conversations where people experiencing menopause feel comfortable and safe to discuss it at work. If you’re a leader going through menopause, you can support others by speaking up and normalizing your challenges. Reducing the stigma is the first step towards empowerment and feeling supported.
Menopause is a lot more than just hot flashes. The symptoms and severity can range from sleep disturbances, fatigue, memory loss, infections, and severe muscle and joint pain. Education from trusted medical sources builds awareness around the impact menopause may have and builds a strong case for employers to support and accommodate the needs of their people.
3. Be Flexible
For those experiencing menopause, allowing for flexibility and simple accommodations can have a major impact on an individual’s continued success. Consider things like flexible schedules which allow for rest and medial appointments, work from home arrangements, alternate break schedules, temperature control, and access to EAP programs.
4. Include it in Policy
Now we aren’t saying you need to write a specific menopause policy, but a great starting point is to review your current policies (sick leave, flexible work schedules, work from home, etc.) to ensure they are inclusive and supportive of those experiencing menopause.