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UK women say menopause hurts career progression, study shows

UK women say menopause hurts career progression, study shows

October 5, 2023

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Over a quarter of women aged 40-60 in the UK (27%), who are currently in employment and have experienced menopause symptoms, say that menopause has had a negative impact on their career progression, according to new research from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development.

The CIPD study also noted 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.

Over a third, or 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. At the same time, 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.

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, the CIPD stated. 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).

Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser for wellbeing and employee relations at the CIPD, said, “any 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.”

Suff said, “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 research comes after it was recently reported a social worker in the UK is suing her former employer for allegedly discriminating against her due to menopause symptoms.