Title: Menopause: Mind The Gap: The value of supporting women’s wellness in the workplace
Author: Pat Duckworth
Publisher: HWCS Publications (published on 13 January, 2021)
Q&A with the Author by : Lisa Dadd
The author Pat Duckworth has brought the focus on a topic that is generally ignored in the office space – Menopause. This is what makes the book important as it directly delves in the many issues. And who better to engage in the dialogue than Lisa Dadd, a Management Consultant, who works with leaders and executives to increases impact and influence through heightened self-awareness, and greater social-emotional intelligence.
Lisa Dadd – Why is menopause a workplace issue?
Pat Duckworth– Globally there are more women of over 50 years of age in the workplace than ever before and it is the fastest growing demographic. That means that menopause symptoms that affect performance at work are a fast-growing issue. And, of course, it doesn’t just affect women over 50. Symptoms can start much earlier and for a variety of reasons such as hysterectomy or treatment for cancer.
Lisa – Businesses are dealing with a pandemic at the moment, so why is it important to be talking about this subject now?
Pat – We need all employees to be working at their optimum more than ever now. Research has shown that around 75% of women have symptoms that affect them at work. That same research has shown that with some practical support from their employers, their symptoms can be managed and they can work more efficiently.
I have run workshops about menopause in Delhi so I know women in India face these challenges, just like all women around the world.
Lisa – How is this a problem for businesses and organisations?
Pat – When women are experiencing symptoms at work it can affect their concentration, focus, and confidence, and can lead to time lost through sickness absence. This affects women at all levels and in all roles within organisations.
Lisa – Are there any other impacts or costs for organisations?
Pat – A significant number of women consider leaving their careers when they are unsupported. This means that you may be losing knowledgeable and experienced employees without knowing why. Plus, there is the considerable cost of recruiting and training replacements.
Lisa – What can employers do to support these women?
Pat – There are simple practical changes to the workplace that employers can put in place. For example, in the book I talk about something as affordable as providing a desk fan to ease hot flushes. What is really important is to create a workplace culture where women feel safe and comfortable to ask for the support they need.
Lisa – Can you say a bit more about what a supportive culture would involve?
Pat – Generally, talking about menopause in the workplace is a bit of a taboo. Women find it difficult to discuss with their managers what they are experiencing and how it is affecting them. A supportive culture is one in which the organisation has raised awareness of menopause and created opportunities for open discussion and learning on the subject.
Lisa – In your book, you go into more detail and some of the long-term solutions. Can you say more about that?
Pat – For larger organisations there are further benefits to creating a more strategic approach to awareness, training and communication. That may be extending a wellness programme or policies that are already in place. For organisations that are just setting out down this path it may be as simple as a staff survey to understand what employees and managers need.
Lisa – I know this is a sensitive issue for women, but is there a role for them in assisting their employers with implementing solutions?
Pat – Some organisations have successfully appointed Menopause Champions. This is a low cost and high impact solution to providing a communication channel between employees and managers. The role also provides a focus point for providing information to women employees.
Lisa – Any last thoughts?
Pat – This subject has been a taboo for too long. We need to break that taboo so that women and businesses can thrive.
Lisa – You’ve given us a lot of specific tips today. For businesses who want to find out more, how can they find the book or connect with you?
Pat –There’s so much more I could tell you! My new book, ‘Menopause: Mind the Gap: The value of supporting women’s wellness in the workplace’ is available now mybook.to/MMTG. You can contact me via my website http://www.patduckworth.com/.