At Integrated Resources we have clients who find that effective women, whose performance has been consistently fantastic and energetic, suddenly become listless and tearful. Why? The Menopause. One of our team members the other day discovered by accident that there is a British Menopause Society. I certainly didn’t know that and recently, on a piano course, I met a young woman whose sole job was to counsel women privately, on issues associated with the menopause.
It’s a sad fact of life that we all get older and, with age legislation, I wonder if there has been any greater taboo than on discussing this very sensitive issue. It seems to me that there is almost a conspiracy of silence, even amongst the medical profession.
Of course we’re all different. But every single woman, at some point, faces the menopause and sometimes this happens at a remarkably young age. Others are symptom free and pass into this new phase of their life unhindered by hot sweats, embarrassing red flushes, forgetfulness and general weariness.
I can only guess at why there is such a taboo on this subject, but to all leaders out there I want to raise the profile of this phenomenon that will effect roughly half the working population, and we are extremely poor at handling it. The mere mention of the subject causes embarrassment but I wonder if we could channel this embarrassment into a force for action and an understanding that the menopause does make some women very ill. This makes it very hard to deal with but, if nothing else, let’s talk about it, however embarrassing it may be.
It was only in 1978 that employment legislation was introduced to allow women to return to work after maternity leave - as a right, to the same job or one of equal status. At that time, there was very little sympathy for women’s desire to combine childbearing with work, and now we take it as a given. There is far more understanding and sympathy with female staff who are pregnant and the symptoms they face.
It’s probably time that we enabled the same sort of enlightenment with regard to the menopause, but if we keep silent then nothing is going to change. The physical symptoms are, for many women, such that they feel really ill as well as mentally impaired, as forgetfulness takes a grip. Rather than criticism and condemnation, perhaps it’s time we allocated a certain amount of sympathy towards the symptoms of menopause as we do to pregnancy.
If you’d like to talk about mechanisms that might be put in place in your organisation to make it operate more effectively, without discriminating against particular groups, whilst fostering diversity, then please do get in touch with the team at Integrated Resources today.