For generations, menopause has been referred to — usually in hushed tones — as “the change.”
Now, though, one advocate for women in the workplace says companies need to be talking about menopause and how it affects their female employees. She argues it’s a lesser-known, significant reason for women leaving the workplace, and she believes something needs to, well, change.
“Unlike women who leave the workforce because of childcare challenges, women who struggle with menopause symptoms rarely find established company guidelines, support or a sympathetic ear,” Fast Company contributor Terry Weber wrote on the website in September.
According to Weber’s research, up to 20% of the current U.S. workforce is impacted by menopause symptoms. That’s not an insignificant number.
“Our company recently conducted a Women in the Workplace survey, which revealed that four out of every 10 women experienced menopause symptoms that interfered with their work performance or productivity on a weekly basis,” wrote Weber, who is the chief executive officer of Biote. “Seventeen percent have quit a job or considered quitting due to menopause symptoms. That’s a significant percentage of the ‘missing’ female labor force.”
Of those dealing with menopause symptoms, nearly 90% of the women surveyed said they had not spoken to an employer or manager about their symptoms, fearing they would be shamed, discriminated against and/or seen as weak or making excuses.
Weber believes it’s time for more employers to consider what they can do to accommodate these women.
“I have the numbers to prove it,” she wrote. “Over half of the women we surveyed said that if they were considering working for a company, it would be important for them that the company clearly expressed a commitment to support employees with menopause symptoms.”
Weber recommends employers amend their employee guidelines to include such factors as flexibility for remote work and options for temperature control.
Kindness, compassion and awareness of what these women are going through could also go a long way, she wrote.