Authentically leveraging the menopause: a catalyst for growth
Sarah Shaw, Partner, Education, says the menopause should neither be a cause for embarrassment nor trigger a brain drain. It’s time to champion and let loose the power.
The ‘M word’ came out from under the taboo pile only a few years ago, blinking into the sunlight. It was less a sloth and more a caged tiger pacing to be set free. All that pent up possibility, all that latent energy waiting to explode. But capturing it? Harnessing it? What does facing the menopause, talking about the menopause, dealing with the menopause really mean to us now in the workplace?
The journey has taken us from socialites and brand ambassadors, influencers and BBC presenters – talking very personally – to people on the ground. The workers who have started discussions instinctively and organically in rooms/next to the water cooler, via WhatsApp and Zoom. We have found a thirst for knowledge, a desire to unburden. And a need for support and recognition.
Being perimenopausal or menopausal is a journey along the way in the rich tapestry of life. It is not the end of anything – it is a part of something which simply requires guidance, tolerance, understanding and information. Once the power of those menopause years is celebrated instead of trapped inside a fog of misunderstanding and unease, the world of work can be menopausal people’s oyster.
Organisations which recognise they have a duty to those who should be able to bring their best selves to work don’t hide this particular light under a bushel. Businesses with bravery and a culture of openness and transparency are not only helping empower their female workforce, they are retaining their talent, enabling them to apply for promotion or assisting them to be courageous and apply for more senior/responsible roles elsewhere.
Almost two years ago GenM, an organisation set up to make the menopause a more positive experience for everyone, published its Invisibility Report on the impact of the menopause on women and those in transition. It’s survey of 2,000 women aged 35-60 found three-quarters feel the menopause remains a social taboo not openly talked about in society, at home, or in the workplace.
GenM’s latest report, Opportunity Report Vol. 1, unearthed some further startling statistics. Almost half (48%) of the women surveyed who were menopausal or postmenopausal felt hesitant about raising the subject at work for fear of being marginalised, discriminated against, or perceived negatively. A further 1 in 3 said they would feel embarrassed. The full report can be found here - https://gen-m.com/.
Even more shockingly, 1 in 4 women have left the workforce because of menopause symptoms. This is a significant and horrifying brain drain. But it does give us an immense and special opportunity.
At Odgers Interim, we want to harness this ‘lost’ expertise, utilise those who have the skills but just need the support and confidence to return to the working fold in a way which suits them and, quite evidently, delights our clients.
We work to provide the best people matched with the perfect assignment for them, so that they deliver successfully. We are also working hard to meet client expectations around diversity so that executives commissioned on an interim basis reflect the client communities they serve.
This is no mean feat based on the tight windows of opportunity we work to in order to fill an interim role, but our mission is to develop our talent pipeline so that clients have a breadth of choice. ‘New blood’ coming into the interim marketplace is always welcome.
There are 8.5m ‘Queenagers’ (ABC1 women aged 40-65) in the UK. They have immense buying power and influence and many will be on their own, unique menopause journey. Indeed, as the subtitle to the new GenM report has it, “the menopause is a catalyst for ethical business growth.”
Our role is to assist those who wish to work at senior level, to do so with pride, with full health (body and mind) and with the energy and drive they expect of themselves.
Nothing will stop them. We champion them, we know our clients will be impressed by them.
Join us on this journey – unleash those tigers!
Odgers Berndtson and Odgers Interim are privileged to be founding partners of GenM: “working to serve the menopause better”.