Earlier this year I decided to take a taboo by the horns and write about menopause. Why? Because I was experiencing it sooner than I expected and it rocked my world. I couldn’t sleep, my head was foggy, and what I thought was an intermittent fever turned out to be those dreaded hot flashes. Needless to say, my regular work was more challenging with all these symptoms. With a little research I learned that as much as 20% of the workforce are experiencing menopause each year. Why aren’t there riots in the streets?
It was time to speak up about how organizations deal with (or don’t) menopause in the workplace.
My article solicited a ton of responses from both women and men. They were thankful that they weren’t the only ones dealing with this issue, and appreciated that I pointed out the elephant in the room. When Fast Company picked up the piece, I got even more affirmation that this was a topic that needed to be addressed.
I was asked to speak more about menopause in the workplace by Genneve—“a woman’s reproductive and hormonal health company that stands for education and empowerment.” They invited me to be a guest on their podcast, “Join the Genneve Conversation.”
You can listen to my episode here:
If you’d like to skip ahead, here is a time-stamped list of questions Genneve’s CEO, Jill Angelo, asked me while on her show:
- 3:12: Why are women so reluctant to talk about menopause issues?
- 4:40: What is it about the symptoms of menopause that impact the workplace?
- 6:11: What are some of the simple things workplaces can do to accommodate women with menopause symptoms?
- 7:40: Who should initiate the dialogue about menopause in the workplace? Should it be the employee or the manager? How can employees feel more comfortable talking about it, and further, how can managers create a more comfortable environment for women so that they feel inclined to bring it up?
- 12:00: Why was I advised against writing about menopause? (HINT: Ageism)
- 14:17: Did I experience repercussions from writing my article on menopause?
- 18:13: Will the fact that women are starting and owning more companies than ever before make the conversation of menopause easier in the workplace?
- 20:46: How do women and men take the lead and start this discussion in the workplace?
The fact is, most organizational structures just aren’t ready to deal with the reality of their aging workforce. But they need to be. By 2018, nearly 31 million women in the menopausal age range will be employed. Coupled with the fact that our society is obsessed with youth, and the topic gets shoved even further under the rug by the very women suffering, for fear of career repercussions due to ageism. What can we do today? Start saying it out loud: Menopause.