Employers are being encouraged to better support women experiencing the menopause with the government appointment of England’s first ever Menopause Employment Champion.
Helen Tomlinson, Head of Talent (UK and Ireland) at The Adecco Group, has been appointed to the independent role by the Department for Work and Pensions and will work closely with the Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression Mims Davies.
As part of the voluntary role, Helen will focus on encouraging employers to develop menopause policies to create more supportive environments to help women experiencing menopause to stay and progress in work. She will carry out this work while continuing her employment at Adecco.
With 30 years’ experience in the recruitment and employability sector, Helen is ideally placed to take on the role having hosted a podcast on menopause and work which led to her working with Adecco to develop and introduce their menopause policy.
Launched in 2021, it has since been adapted for numerous external clients and includes training for managers and the creation of a menopause community of allies who advise women on how to support themselves to thrive in work whilst experiencing menopause.
Menopause Employment Champion, Helen Tomlinson said: “I have witnessed the transformational power that opening up conversations on the menopause can have in a workplace. By creating safe spaces by educating management and creating allies across workforces, women can be supported and empowered to manage their symptoms and thrive in work.
“Less than a quarter of UK businesses currently have a menopause policy, but as I take on this role, I am determined that my generation of women in work will break the menopause taboo and have confidence that their health is valued.
“I look forward to working with women and leaders across all sectors of work to address this gap and make a difference for current and future generations.”
Department for Work and Pensions Minister, Mims Davies said: “Menopause is a major driver of too many women leaving the workforce early, often when they are at the peak of their skills and experience with so much more still to contribute.
“We are committed to ensuring any stigma is addressed associated with menopause and its symptoms which can vary.
“Working positively with employers is vital to ensure they can recruit and retain women experiencing menopause and stop women perhaps considering giving up their employment due to the impact.
“I look forward to working closely with Helen, to achieve our goals of driving positive workplace change to help realise the full potential of women, businesses, and the economy by assisting women at any age and career stage to be properly supported and thrive in work.”
Although not all women experience effects which prevent them from working, research suggests those with serious menopausal symptoms take an average of 32 weeks of leave from work, whilst one in four women report they have considered leaving their job due to experiencing the menopause.
The average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51, and this matters especially as women over 50 represent the fastest growing segment of the workforce, with a third of the working age population now over 50.
Indeed, 1 in 100 women experiencing menopause impact before the age of 40 with peri-menopause symptoms often during their 40s and some experiencing it mid-30s.
As Menopause Employment Champion, Helen will focus on workplace support and raising awareness of menopause related issues. This could include advising employers on small but significant changes they could make to the workplace, such as offering those experiencing symptoms more regular breaks, a choice of uniform or creating cooler spaces in offices for those experiencing hot flushes.
Helen will also work closely with the Women’s Health Ambassador Dame Lesley Regan whose work on the menopause centres on healthcare provision.
The government committed to the appointment of a Menopause Employment Champion in its official responses to both the independent Menopause and Employment: How to enable fulfilling working lives report and Women and Equalities Select Committee Report on Menopause and the Workplace.
Department for Work and Pensions March 2023