Our world is multicultural, non-binary and it follows that our workplaces are too. Which is why, when organisations are working towards becoming menopause friendly, this is an important area of focus.
When we talk about menopause symptoms, we know these are a result of hormonal changes. But hormonal changes can occur during other times of life, such as when undergoing fertility treatment, or certain illnesses or treatments. Trans and non-binary people can also experience symptoms due to hormonal changes. As a responsible employer, these are all areas to focus on when you’re considering diversity and inclusion in your menopause guidance.
If you’re putting together a menopause policy or guidance, it’s often a good idea to acknowledge upfront that you’re addressing a wider range of people other than menopausal women. So while your text may read ‘women’, ‘she’, ‘her’, make it clear that this is for simplicity of reading, and the guidance and support is there for everyone.
Nor is it just for those experiencing these hormonal changes. People want to support their colleagues, partners, friends and family, and having the right information and advice can really help them do this.
“Menopause is hugely in terms of diversity and inclusion,” says Paul Sesay, CEO at Precedent Group, which delivers a portfolio of recruitment services with a focus on D&I. “Everybody needs to know about it, as it affects us all in certain ways. It’s so so important that workplaces are educating every single one of their employees, so everyone feels comfortable and happy to raise the subject if their symptoms are getting in the way of work.”
We must consider different cultures
Culturally, too, menopause can sometimes be a sensitive subject, one which is traditionally not spoken about. But that’s not to say people don’t still need the help and support. Making it clear that all conversations are dealt with in complete confidence can often give people the impetus to come forward.
“If menopause or hormonal changes are affecting people at home, then it’s going to affect them at work, too,” continues Paul. “Everyone experiences a different range of symptoms, and these can change over time, so we always recommend that organisations have a set of reasonable adjustments people can ask for to help with their symptoms.
“This could be flexible working if they’re having trouble sleeping, extra uniform, ventilation or a fan if they’re getting hot flushes, access to water, breakout spaces – these are all simple adjustments employers can offer that can make a real difference.
“My advice to organisations looking to become menopause friendly is that you’ve just got to do it. It’s not even an issue not to. Ultimately, your staff need to feel they can go to their manager and say these are my symptoms, how can you help? Otherwise, you could end up with disillusioned employees who feel they can’t do their job effectively. And that’s when companies start to lose valuable talent.”