New research shows that almost half of women who have experienced menopause symptoms felt too embarrassed to ask for workplace support, showing that stigma still exists around this area.

Experiencing menopause at work has raised many challenges for women in the workplace. However, the stigma surrounding this topic may have made this time even more difficult, hindering women from asking and receiving support.

Research conducted by Vodafone found that almost two-thirds of women (62 per cent) experienced menopause symptoms which impacted them whilst at work. This number rose to four in five (79 per cent) when considering the experiences of women between the ages of 18 and 44 years old.

Furthermore, despite experiencing symptoms of menopause which impacted their work performance in some way, a third of women (33 per cent) hid this at work. Half (50 per cent) felt that there is a stigma linked to talking about menopause in the workplace, making it hard for women to openly express what they are going through and how this may be affecting their work performance.

As such, almost half of women (43 per cent) stated that they were “too embarrassed” to ask for support in the workplace. This was true for two-thirds of female employees (63 per cent) aged between 18-44.

However, women signalled that they did wish for conversations surrounding menopause to be opened up. Two-thirds (64 per cent) felt that there should be more workplace support for women going through menopause.

As such, Vodafone has stated they are rolling out a training and awareness programme to all employees globally, including a toolkit focused on raising understanding of the menopause and providing guidance on how to support employees, colleagues and family members.

CIPD guidance on the topic states that women over the age of 50 are the fastest growing segment of the workforce, and most will go through the menopause transition during their working lives.

The CIPD expressed that it is up to HR teams to “play a crucial role in creating open and supportive cultures to help people through the menopause”.

In order to assist with this, the body stated five key steps that people professionals can take in order to aid women experiencing menopause in their organisation, including:

  • Reviewing existing frameworks and policies
  • Helping break through the silence – through raising awareness about the symptoms and fostering understanding through an open and supportive company culture
  • Identifying reasonable adjustments – encouraging managers to have open conversations with their teams about the ways in which the company can help
  • Enabling line managers to support their teams – through education and active training and development
  • Getting senior leadership on board – making support for the menopause a key part of company strategy to attract, retain and
    develop female talent

*To collect this research, Vodafone published new independent research conducted by Opinium which surveyed 5,012 people in 5 countries who had experienced menopause whilst at work.