128,000 women, or 1 in 10 employees, working in the financial services sector are currently going through the menopause. Moreover, 25 percent are more likely to retire early, according to new research by Fawcett Society in association with Standard Chartered Bank and the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC).
According to NHS data, three out of four women have menopausal symptoms, and a quarter of those experience symptoms that interfere with their daily lives. As an aspiring young leader interested in equality with a focus on how we can make a positive change in financial services, its evident that awareness is increasing, but there is still much more that can be done.
Awareness about menopause transition is critical, as is lowering the stigma associated with it so that employees can discuss it openly and thrive at work.
Why does it matter?
It’s nothing new that the proportion of women employees in financial services has been growing exponentially.
Menopausal women are one of the fastest growing demographics within the workforce. This verifies the importance for a broader industry understanding of the menopause transition and the need to support those impacted to ensure that they continue to thrive in the workplace.
Importantly, this change takes place often at the peak of careers, during the period of transition to senior leadership and managerial roles. Ensuring support during this time is vital to nurture talent progression and retention.
Research highlights the workplace is also where they are least likely to disclose their menopausal status/raise issues due to embarrassment and fear of discrimination. As a result, they are more likely to endure the worst of the symptoms while also being the least likely to seek help, posing a serious threat to their comfort, confidence, and productivity.
Lack of awareness also stems from the fact that the financial services sector still remains largely male dominated environment, with 60 percent of full-time employees being male. How can we expect awareness of menopause and support for this process to be an important topic on the agenda, if the majority of employees won’t experience it or understand it?
What can you do as an employer?
- It starts with education, awareness and dialogue. Normalising conversations around the menopause transition is really important – for all genders and ages – ensuring that those who are going through the menopause transition are able to have conversations about how their symptoms are impacting them and how their employer can support them through the transition.
- Story-telling is really powerful – ask your senior leaders who have experienced/are experiencing menopause to talk about how this has impacted them in the workplace. This will empower other colleagues to talk about it more openly and reduce the taboo around this issue.
- Establish support for those experiencing menopause, this will depend on your working environment, but could range from the availability of desk fans to more flexible work arrangements. Ensure your line managers are aware of the support available so that they can have quality conversations with those impacted.
For us at KPMG, gender equality continues to be a strong focus for our leadership. By 2030, our firm's new transformative goals call for equal women representation at all levels of the organisation. We're committed to supporting this shift through our KPMG’s Network of Women (KNOW) which helps promote gender balance and provides opportunities for colleagues to share experiences and seek guidance on professional and personal development. You can read more about our gender equality initiatives here.
The time is now - the first step is increasing awareness and demonstrating empathy. You want your womenleadership to rise to the top but addressing a key issue like menopause along the way is critical to their success and, in turn, your organisation’s success.