An employee at a regional building society has spoken out about living with the forgetfulness, emotional ups and downs and hot flushes of the menopause after an All-Party Parliamentary Group called for more action on the issue.
Today, Tuesday October 18, is Menopause Awareness Day, which follows hot on the heels of MPs’ recommendations made following a year-long inquiry by the Menopause All-Party Parliamentary Group.
Their report includes calls for menopause check-ups for women when they reach 45.
Currently 50 percent of women resign or take early retirement due to the menopause or perimenopause while it accounts for 14 million working days being lost each year.
The Cumberland Building Society, whose workforce is approximately 63 percent female, is one business which has developed a specific policy to support women who are going through the menopause.
The building society joins national companies including Tesco, Santander UK, HarperCollins UK and Bupa in pledging to ensure a supportive workplace for employees affected by menopause.
The policy aims to educate its managers and enable them to begin conversations with staff, as well as provide information and guidance; and encourages other businesses to follow their example.
It is already running regular, informal drop-in sessions providing a platform to have these conversations, talking openly and respectfully about the menopause.
As part of making discussions about menopause accepted and creating a shift in outdated attitudes, a group of colleagues at the Cumberland, both men and women, have formed a Menopause Support Group, with one colleague speaking out about living and working with the menopause.
Debbie Shearer, head of first line risk at The Cumberland Building Society, says she is happy the company is taking action saying: “It can feel really isolating and feel like you are losing a bit of yourself, so to know there is some understanding is in itself really helpful,” said Debbie.
“I really struggle with flushes and overheating. I try to make a joke of it, but that’s me covering up my embarrassment. I used to try and hide it but it’s impossible to, so now I carry a very elegant Spanish fan with me everywhere and if I feel the need I use it and openly explain.
“I pride myself on my memory, but I am finding that I do forget more and more these days, so I now make sure I write things down. A particular challenge is forgetting words, and these are straightforward everyday words too. This can and does impact confidence.
“I’m delighted that The Cumberland has recognised the challenge that menopause is and the impact it can have on everyone – not just those going through it but also those around you. Everyone’s journey will be different, but it doesn’t need to be a lonely one and anything we can do to help each other has to be good.”
The menopause policy has been driven by Lyndsay Maxwell, people business partner, and Claire Crossan, customer experience manager.
Lyndsay said: “It’s great to be part of this push to support women in the workplace. It’s creating a better environment for people to work in and that feels very empowering.
“We want everyone to embrace the policy and help break the stigma. This is about culture and understanding. Support is available to all colleagues, including information sessions and training for managers.
“For some, it is a taboo subject because women didn’t like to talk about it, but campaigns like this and public figures speaking about it are making the difference.”