Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Over a quarter of women say menopause has had a negative impact on their career progression, new CIPD research finds

CIPD calls for increased employer support to help those experiencing menopause to stay and progress in work

Over a quarter of women (27%) aged 40-60 in the UK, who are currently in employment and have experienced menopause symptoms - an estimated 1.2 million* - say that menopause has had a negative impact on their career progression, according to new research from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

These impacts are heightened for those who have experienced menopause symptoms and have a disability, long-term health condition, or identify as an ethnic minority:

  • 36% of women with a disability or long-term health condition say their symptoms have had a negative impact on their career progression, compared with 24% who don’t have one.
  • 38% of women who identify as from an ethnic minority background say their symptoms have had a negative impact on their career progression, compared with 25% who are white.

The findings from the CIPD’s new report, Menopause in the workplace, show that despite recent advances in workplace support, some employers need to do more to recognise and address the impact of menopause symptoms, particularly for those who may already experience disadvantage at work.

Two-thirds (67%) of women with experience of menopausal symptoms say they have had a ‘mostly negative’ effect on them at work. A wide range of impacts are reported, including feeling less able to concentrate (79%) and an increased amount of stress (68%).

However, feeling supported at work can make a considerable difference. Those who feel unsupported by their employer are more likely to report having felt an increased amount of pressure (55% of those who feel unsupported compared to 43% of those who feel supported) or stress (75% of those who feel unsupported compared to 68% of those who feel supported).

Employers that fail to foster supportive work cultures where people feel able to speak openly about any concerns or health issues risk losing out on valuable talent, the CIPD warns. This is particularly an issue for employers at a time where recruitment and retention challenges persist.

Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser for wellbeing and employee relations at the CIPD, comments:

“Many employers have made progress with supporting those with menopause symptoms at work. However, this isn’t the case across the board and much more can be done. Organisations can’t afford not to support employees who are experiencing menopause symptoms if they want to retain a diverse range of talent. The CIPD’s research shows that a lack of support can have a negative impact on career progression and even causes some women to leave the workplace entirely.

“Line managers should be supported to have open and honest conversations about the support available. Everyone will experience menopause differently, so it’s about listening and offering support in ways that work for both the organisation and the employee.

“Offering flexible working and other helpful adjustments will go a long way to empowering employees to manage their symptoms and workloads, without compromising their careers.”

The CIPD is urging employers to:

  • Create an open culture and encourage conversations about menopause – providing information and sharing experiences can help to involve all employees and managers in these conversations.
  • Develop a supportive framework and be clear on practical help that is available. This could include a specific menopause policy or guidance as well as support for those experiencing symptoms.
  • Offer a broad range of flexible working options to suit a variety of roles.
  • Make sure that absence management policies are fair and flexible so that they don’t unfairly penalise someone experiencing ongoing menopause symptoms.
  • Educate and train line managers so they are aware of menopause symptoms and organisational support. Training should include how to be approachable and to have sensitive one-to-one conversations.
  • Understand that simple adjustments to working environments can make a significant difference to someone’s comfort. For example, looking at ways to cool the workplace, providing easy access to cold drinking water and washrooms, and adapting uniforms to improve comfort.**