Q&A: Menopause should be celebrated not feared

How we can prevent thousands of women leaving financial services due to menopausal symptoms

The menopause is a natural stage in life that women go through, yet it remains taboo in the workplace, and many suffer extreme symptoms in silence.

Here, Monique King, the Diversity Project’s Menopause Workstream lead, discusses how financial service can do better to create a more inclusive environment:

Why is it important for investment management firms in particular to be supporting employees experiencing menopause?

A report from Standard Chartered and Financial Services Skills Commission published last year stated that 128,000 women, or 1 in 10 employees, working in the financial services sector are currently going through the menopause. Menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace, yet millions of them are leaving work. Employment losses are just one of the costs of menopause, others include sickness absence, mental health costs, promotion losses, physical health costs and many more. Increasing awareness and supporting those going through menopause will help retain and progress key talent at all levels.

What kind of challenges can women face in the workplace? How can menopause impact their overall career?

According to Nuffield research, 10% of women seriously consider giving up work due to their menopause symptoms. Symptoms such as memory problems, fatigue, depression and anxiety can have a negative impact on women’s everyday life, including in the workplace.

See also: – ‘I thought I had dementia’: How more menopause support is needed in workplace

Have you seen much progress on this in the investment management industry so far?

When the Diversity Project’s Menopause Workstream was first established we asked all member firms to complete a questionnaire to disclose their menopause provisions. Results of the member firms who responded show: less than 20% have a menopause policy in place; less than 30% have menopause support networks and less than 30% provide training or coaching to managers.  However, we have not collated the data since the questionnaire but aim to do so as part of our recently announced Menopause Pledge and the deliverables/deadlines.

We will monitor the progress of the Pledge along with the wider Diversity Project goals, but the initial response to the Pledge has been positive to date with a significant amount of interest.  The Menopause Toolkit we are about to launch will also help member firms implement the necessary changes.

Please tell us more about the Menopause Pledge and what is it aiming to achieve?

The Diversity Project’s mission is to accelerate progress towards an inclusive culture in the investment and savings profession. Such a culture across all levels supports more effective teamwork, gives wider perspectives, better investment decisions, better results for our clients and ultimately more sustainable businesses. The Menopause Pledge’s aims and objectives are to:

  • Raise awareness of menopause and thereby normalise the subject
  • Support individuals going through the menopause or with menopausal symptoms through webinars and resources – creating a safe space for individuals to talk and share
  • Provide education and resources for Diversity Project member firms and for the wider industry 

What does best practice look like?

A society where menopause is not something to be feared and instead, with the right support and understanding, can be celebrated as a natural stage of life.

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Natalie Kenway

Natalie is global head of ESG insight for ESG Clarity and has been an investment journalist for 16 years. She won Editor of the Year at the Aviva Investors Sustainability Media Awards 2021, and was Winner...