The rise of menopause awareness in the workplace across financial services and further afield is gaining serious traction. I for one, find this hugely empowering and feel it’s a cause for celebration as we mark International Women’s Day 2022. Only a few years ago, even less, it was a woefully under-discussed topic. Having witnessed colleagues and friends experience the menopause it was clear that this almighty taboo maybe impacting the female talent pipeline across our industry. Following discussions with Tanuj Kapilashrami, Group Head of HR at Standard Chartered Bank, we joined forces and launched the report, Menopause in the Workplace: Impact on Women in Financial Services in Autumn 2021. The report surveyed over 2400 employees across our industry and the findings were sobering – a culture of silence around the menopause is blocking female career progression – 25 per cent of women are more likely to leave the financial services workforce due to their menopause experience, impacting their confidence – but not their ability – to perform their role.
A lack of awareness and support from employers and colleagues to help manage their symptoms means women are less keen to progress into more senior roles and may leave work altogether. Almost half (47 per cent) of those surveyed said they were less likely to apply for a promotion because of their experiences in managing menopause symptoms. The findings, coupled with the growing skills gap our sector is facing, shows employers risk losing talent if they aren’t responding well to the menopause. We need to build a more inclusive and ‘speak up’ culture. A term which has been echoed by regulators not long ago. Since the report launch, the feedback we continue to receive, focuses on raising awareness of the menopause across the entire industry, not just women. Firms need to educate all employees, managers, and leaders about menopause symptoms and how to better support employees, as well as provide opportunities to hear from employees experiencing physical menopause symptoms as we all need to understand and adapt.
The Commission is a signatory of the Wellbeing of Women’s Menopause Workplace Pledge and several FSSC members including Zurich, Barclays, and HSBC, have all launched menopause workplace polices. But there is still more to do. Our research will Standard Chartered sets out key actions to help firms create a workplace culture where the menopause is better understood, so employees can request support and workplace adjustments. Guidance specifically includes additional training, flexible working, access to counselling, education, and awareness resources for all employees. Additional support will ultimately help the industry retain and progress talent, which will in turn, will help drive innovation, delivering greater organisational strength and productivity. We need to continue to talk about the menopause and break the bias once and for all.