20 October 2022
“Breaking the silence”: Championing menopause in the workplace
• Up to 80% of women of menopausal age in Britain are in work
• Anchor supports colleagues going through menopause to stay in their careers, maintain performance levels and avoid adverse effects on their mental or physical health
• Anchor shares top tips for people experiencing menopause or perimenopause in the workplace
Up to 80% of women of menopausal age are currently in employment in Britain, significantly higher than in previous generations. Yet with one in ten women having left their job due to menopause symptoms – rising to almost one in four with serious menopause symptoms – having the right support at work is crucial to ensure they can continue pursuing their careers.
Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of care and housing for people in later life, believes losing people from the workplace due to a lack of support is an unnecessary loss of skill, knowledge and experience.
Anchor has a variety of initiatives to support people experiencing perimenopause and menopause including a ‘Let’s Talk Menopause’ group, a colleague advice line, a health risk assessment tool, and in-depth guidance to support colleagues and managers to understand what adjustments can be made at work.
Sarah Jones, Chief Executive and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champion at Anchor, says:
Menopause directly or indirectly affects lots of people and it is a basic fact of life. By making discussions about menopause in the workplace as normal as talking about any other health condition, we can make it easier for people to get the support they need to start or stay in a career, bring their whole self to work and avoid any adverse effects on their mental or physical health.
Ruth Bishop, 47, Care Quality Advisor at Anchor, was supported by her line manager when experiencing perimenopause. She says:
My line manager used Anchor’s menopause resources and they were a fantastic prompt for discussion. While this isn’t something my line manager had direct experience in or had supported someone in before, he was really open to having discussions, listened and even did his own research.
Understanding that people have different experiences of menopause, and therefore need different support, is key. I needed that understanding. Our workplace group ‘Let’s Talk Menopause’ supports frank conversations and has allowed colleagues to share their own experiences and get support.
Nicky Ellison, 56, Extra Care Business Partner at Anchor, was supported at work through menopause symptoms. She says:
For me, I needed the safe space to be able to recognise my symptoms, how they may be affecting my working day and what practical steps I could take to minimise any impact. To have that space to acknowledge them without fear of it being a performance management issue was liberating and a huge relief.
It’s about breaking the silence. My mother’s generation weren’t working when they were going through menopause so it’s a different set of pressures now. One of my colleagues even helped me find the confidence to speak to my doctor about one of my symptoms. They told me ‘You don’t have to live like this’, and it has made a massive difference.
Teagan Robinson, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Anchor, says:
Menopause is a personal journey for each individual and taking the first step to seek support is often the most difficult. So, we’ve developed a series of guides and places for safe conversations. Being an inclusive workplace has many benefits; it improves performance, keeps the brilliant people we have already, and attracts new colleagues.
Anchor has recently been accredited as a Menopause Friendly Employer and is currently hiring for 547 vacancies, 445 of which are for roles in care.
To coincide with Menopause Awareness Month, Anchor has produced tips to help people experiencing menopause or perimenopause in the workplace seek support:
• Break the silence. Though it might feel hard, it can help to speak up and share your experience with your colleagues. There will likely be other people going through similar things, and it often takes one person to break the silence and start the conversation
• Plan ahead. If you are worried about speaking to your workplace about how perimenopause or menopause is affecting you, prepare a short script of what you want to say beforehand to make sure you get your point across clearly and fully
• Focus on actions. Think about your main symptoms individually and suggest one adjustment your workplace could make for each one
• Seek wider support. Don’t be afraid to seek further help or guidance from a professional for your symptoms. You shouldn’t have to suffer through symptoms that are having a negative impact on your quality of life