Menopause can be debilitating and more often than not, women suffer through this phase of life silently. Many will end up leaving their jobs, or their performance will take a hit. In the United States, less than 25% of employers provide any type of support for women going through menopause. This statistic is mind blowing when you step back to consider that women continue to work long past 40 years old. An estimated 6000 women reach menopause daily, that is 20% of the United States work force. Nearly 31million women in the menopausal age are currently employed, 80% of whom are experiencing menopausal symptoms. For employers, the lack of ability to provide menopause resources, and support, can cause up to $150 billion in preventable revenue losses.
One in two women have said that going through menopause negatively impacted their ability to do their job because they did not have the support at work. For women, who will experience symptoms anywhere between 7-20 years, they are left feeling exhausted, anxious, and with shrunken self-confidence. For employers, this implications of this can be huge. Anxiety, and lack of self-worth are difficult to deal with especially as a high achieving woman—imposter syndrome settles in—even when you've been the top dog. Research has provided that ageism plays a part in the exclusion of menopausal symptoms from corporate health policies. Companies can be hesitant to hire and accommodate female employees needs. This research speaks for itself when you find that only 25% of top CEO positions in the United States are filled by women.
A majority of business organizations have been constructed by men, who do not keep women’s needs in mind. Whereas pregnancy has been accommodated for after years of fighting, menopause continues to be forgotten. There is an implicit sexist bias built into organizations that put the 40+ year old women at a disadvantage as they are beginning to peak in their careers. Using a hot flash, brain fog, and mood swings as an excuse to call out of work is considered equivalent to professional suicide. Menopause, unfortunately still remains a taboo topic in the workplace, where we have fought for mothers and young women to have access to resources, we have forgotten the reflection of our older selves, that will once again experience hefty bodily changes requiring support. Men don’t want to talk about “women’s health issues,” which is a huge reason as to why most people, women included are unaware of the workplace impact until they are acquainted with somebody who is experiencing menopause, or they experience it themselves. This is not a topic we can be silent on, any longer.
Note to Employers: The forgetfulness, brain fog and diminishing confidence you are seeing in your 40+ female employees, is not them “losing their touch.” They’re just going through menopause. So what can we do to help them?