Background and Expertise
From leaving school my career was hands on, for which I gained a raft of vocational qualifications, later followed by a PTLLS teaching qualification. After that I did a master’s degree in Workplace Management and chose organisational incompetence for my dissertation. I’m sure you can see the dots joining up and what got me to this point.
Being self-employed; I had some control over how and when I worked during menopause but later and as a curious researcher, I discovered that for those women who were employed, in other words tied to contractual obligations and a line manager; their menopause experience was entirely different, and their needs went largely unsupported at work.
So, for that reason I wanted to find out why this was happening, and the following is an overview of all I discovered after hundreds of qualitative interviews with women and managers both male and female.
Read more (research findings)
Research findings: Women are very good at doing all they can to minimise their menopause symptoms privately. Hell, most of them would take a bullet before telling co-workers and managers they're going through the menopause and who can blame them. It’s embarrassing to go through, acutely uncomfortable to talk about and at times floors you when you're trying to work.
Worse than that; symptoms show up uninvited and unannounced. And if a woman admits to it, she’s perceived as ageing, which can lead to her being overlooked for promotion or further career opportunities at a time when she is likely to be at the top of her professional game. It’s no wonder she’s secretive.
But here's the kicker, inadvertently women are their own worst enemies in this arena and it's because they're embarrassed to begin with, the thought of going to a manager for support is unthinkable for many. Especially if it’s a young manager, the same age as her children (now imagine that conversation)
So, the managers (in their defence) dont know what’s going on. They know they have a member of staff who’s suddenly failing, but they’ve no idea why. And even if they have an inkling, they won’t pursue it because they’re embarrassed as well, we are after all humans; so, it’s left unaddressed until the wheels come off and it turns into something much bigger that could even lead to litigation.
Lots of companies have menopause training for women, and some will say they also have menopause training for the workplace. The second one is often just the first one delivered in the workplace. They’re the same thing, discussing the biology of a woman's anatomy and what happens to it during menopause.
Its clinical, its intimate and not for the feint hearted. That's why managers don’t have the appetite for it and who can blame them?
Now it may surprise you to learn that young female managers faired worst in my research when it comes to managing menopause in the workplace. They were the most embarrassed, out of touch, uncompromising and unsympathetic group I interviewed.
They were also the most complained about by their staff. (Think about that in terms of your company’s reputation) And they were the most resistant to learning about the impact of menopause in the workplace. None of them ever said how can I help, but most of them said ugh do we have to do it?
And I get it, you see to help their staff; Managers don't need to learn about menopause from a place of clinical female intimacy they just want solutions. They don't want to learn about the icky bits while they're inside a packed training room or on a capacity zoom call, because this stuff is uncomfortable to sit through.
How do I know this about managers? Because I asked them directly, face to face and they told me in a variety of ways; they would be more open to the learning if it was solution focused, discreet and without all the gory details. And you wont be surprised to learn that some of the male mangers told me they just sat there cringing during menopause awareness training because they were so embarrassed and because of their discomfort, they didn’t take anything in.
I do hope you’ve taken a moment to read the findings above.
Because that’s where the context is and what’s led me to take my own lived experience, combine it with the research, sift out the excess and distil that down into a non-clinical, working knowledge for managers; that tells them what they need to know, while giving them the tools and confidence to manage the impact of menopause in the workplace, without getting up close and personal. Thereby removing the dreaded cringe!
The result is Menocourse. A discreet e Learning tool I've created specifically for managers to help them improve:
- employee engagement.
- company reputation
- staff retention
- and employee wellbeing.
Now who doesn’t want that help?
Because menopause isn't a one size fits all problem there isn’t a one size fits all solution. Training for women and training for managers are two entirely different things. Knowing the difference and choosing the right solution is key. Not knowing the difference and choosing the wrong solution, is why many companies are failing with their menopause strategy despite their good intentions.
The work I do is specific to upskilling managers because they need and deserve specific training if they are to meet expectations and provide the right support, to the right people in the right context. And if managers get the support they need; women will ultimately get the support they need.