Women make up 51% of the population and are the largest growing sector of the British economy. Yet they are still fighting against discrimination in the workplace, which includes being ‘pushed out’ and stigmatised for going through natural female cycles (eg menopause and menstrual cycle). Some companies have been waking up to this hardship in the last five years, and now offer up-to-date training, webinars and employee support. Still, many argue that change is too slow, and affirmative action is needed to show this topic is important, and that companies are putting all their colleagues’ needs first.
Some businesses are starting to take progressive steps, by offering extended leave and support groups for women going through menopause. Bank of Ireland and Danske Bank offer up to ten days of paid leave for those suffering from symptoms. Feedzai, a platform for financial risk management, also provides one day a month off for those suffering from menopausal symptoms or menstrual pain. It is not only the private sector that is taking steps – countries and governments are also creating supportive solutions. Spain has introduced a bill that allows women to take paid menstrual leave of up to five days, similar to Japan and Taiwan, and the UK is looking to implement something similar.
Taking time off work due to menopause or menstrual pain has been heavily stigmatised, and has been known to jeopardise women’s career progression. In the UK, roughly 900,000 women have explicitly left the workforce due to menopause, and without employer action, this number will rise.
An increase in menstrual education and support would create multiple benefits for a company, such as increasing stable talent attraction and retention, leading to a reduction in recruitment costs, increasing reputational benefits, increasing diversity and inclusion, productivity and employee wellbeing, encouraging female employees to stay at the company long term.
Authors: Emily Williams and Lucy Dugdale-Moore