Labelled ‘the last taboo in the workplace’, a Dorset Chamber campaign about the menopause has sparked nationwide interest.
Women over 50 are the fastest growing demographic in the UK – currently there are around 4m women in the workplace of menopausal age. One in four women suffer debilitating symptoms because of it, and yet, two thirds of women report a lack of understanding in their workplace.
The ‘Let’s Talk about the Menopause’ launch event was held online, and more than 60 people tuned in to learn about the very real impact the menopause has on a woman’s working life.
Those present included British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) director general Shevaun Haviland, Labour shadow business minister Seema Malhotra and BCP Council leader Cllr Drew Mellor. An encouraging number of male delegates we spoke to admitted they were attending as they felt ignorant of the issue when the subject had been raised in the regular Dorset Chamber networking group.
“The menopause is one of the last taboos.” Said Ms Haviland “No-one has ever really talked about it in the workplace and it’s something that affects probably 50 per cent of our staff for 10 to 15 years of their careers.”
Dorset Chamber’s campaign was declaimed as ‘trailblazing’ by Ms Malhotra, and BBC South Today felt it so remarkable as a business event that they featured it on their evening broadcast.
A significant proportion of women step back from their careers or leave their jobs because of the negative impact of menopause and lack of support, warned keynote speaker Dr Sarah Hattam, a practising GP and expert on health and wellbeing in the workplace.
The event was certainly successful in raising awareness of the menopause – one male attendee who wished to remain anonymous told the digital Blackmore Vale “I’ll be honest, I thought it was just a woman’s periods stopping. I’m so glad I attended. I mean, it’s the 21st Century – why are there still ‘taboo topics’ when these are such big issues for a huge section of our population?”
Chief executive Ian Girling said: “Our poll during the event showed that nearly three quarters of women had been adversely affected by the menopause.
“It’s not about talking about embarrassing things, it’s about being able to say to a colleague or manager ‘it’s not a great day today, can you bear with me’. And it’s about helping men have more understanding.
“It was a fantastic and powerful event but it was just the start.”
For more details about support available visit https://dorsetchamber.co.uk/menopause-resources/.
Research from the independent Nuffield Health group found:
- About 13 million women in the UK are either peri or post menopausal
- Symptoms can last up to 15 years
- Over 60% of women experience symptoms resulting in behaviour changes
- One in four women will experience severe debilitating symptoms
- Almost half of menopausal women say they feel depressed
- A third of women say they suffer with anxiety
- Approximately two-thirds of women say there is a general lack of support and understanding