Blog by Claire Tunley Chief Executive, Financial Services Skills Commission and Tanuj Kapilashrami, Group Head Human Resources at Standard Chartered.
For too long society has witnessed a culture of silence around the menopause – an issue which can disproportionately impact women in the workplace at the height of their careers. There are 128,000 women, or one in ten employees, working in financial services who are currently going through the menopause.
Last year the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC) and Standard Chartered Bank released landmark research on the impact of menopausal symptoms on female career progression and talent retention. The results were sobering. The research showed that a quarter of women said they were likely to leave the workforce because of their menopause experience. A further 25 per cent of respondents said they were considering early retirement and, nearly half (47 per cent) said they were less likely to apply for promotion. This means the sector could lose up to 30,000 experienced, talented colleagues. As the sector experience acute skills shortages, the industry must act to retain valuable female talent and skills.
One year on and progress is underway. Financial services firms are breaking the menopause taboo and removing the culture of silence which has impacted the workplace for too long. The FSSC recently conducted a pulse survey following our initial research which demonstrates how our sector has accelerated the menopause support it offers colleagues over the last year. More than half of senior leaders (51 per cent) are now proactively championing menopause awareness within their organisation, with two thirds having either started or strengthened their approach within the last 12 months.
Firms are developing policies which actively encourage staff to openly talk about the menopause. Practical measures such as education, raising awareness and additional training are readily available to cultivate a more inclusive working environment, so individuals are less likely to exit the workforce or put their career development on hold due to their menopause experience. 62 per cent of organisations said they now offer employee networks, providing colleagues safe spaces to talk openly and honestly about their menopause experience. A further fifth plan to introduce this support next year.
While progress is encouraging, there is still more to do. Our research last year identified three key areas for action: culture, training, and awareness; flexibility and working arrangements; and workplace environment and provisions. Making changes in these areas to build a more inclusive working culture will create opportunities for the financial services sector – and also ensure the industry continues to build skills, drive innovation, and boost overall competitiveness.
Opening up a continuous dialogue about this subject isn’t easy but, can you imagine what a difference it could make if many more organisations started talking and taking action?
The FSSC and Standard Chartered will be hosting a Menopause Summit in February 2023, focusing on the practical actions to support employees experiencing the menopause transition.
 ONS (2021) Annual Population Survey, User requested data: Financial activities by age group