I found myself smiling recently as my lovely mum, Nora – who is 84 – declared her absolute exasperation that her doctor had not prescribed her a medication she thought she absolutely should have.
So, why was I smiling?
Her request had been for hormone replacement therapy – HRT!
As I poured us both a cup of tea, I was really intrigued as to how the conversation had gone.
She shared with her doctor that I was on HRT and that I had been free of joint pain and other menopause-related symptoms. Although I had been sceptical to try it, I now advocated it and as a result she thought she would like it too. He asked why she felt the need to try it now and she said: “Because I want to feel at my best for as long as I can”.
His response to her really warmed me. “You are a beautiful woman. You are 84. And you are a perfect example of a post-menopausal woman in the springtime of her life. You need sun, and smiles, and daily doses of whatever it is you are already doing.”
My mum was of a generation that did not talk about the menopause through both stigma and shame and never complained when the obvious symptoms presented themselves.
They just ‘got on with it’.
I love that mum is full of energy and life and no longer ashamed to talk about the personal stuff.
So, as we mark World Menopause Day, it is a missed opportunity if we ‘just get on with it’. Today should be a celebration – an opportunity to recognise we are in the springtime of our lives!
Because there is more support than ever for us to open up about how the change in our bodies impact our physical, biological, and psychological state.
I have been an Ambassador, an Ally and – so I have been told – very loud in sharing the knowledge and insights I have on the topic across boardrooms and organizations in every sector. The menopause does not discriminate, 100% of females will face it and my hope is that they will embrace it.
As an organisation, OrgShakers have taken to the topic of midlife very seriously as there is a commercial benefit to every business for doing so.
For the first time in history, one third of the global workforce is over 50! That alone is staggering when you think of the paradigm shift in thinking for the policies, processes and programs that need to support and enhance everyone to be at their best.
If you need some help on starting to support those undergoing these midlife changes at work, here are five things you can do as a leader:
- Develop and/or review existing policies – remembering that there is no one-size-fits-all approach as every person’s journey with menopause is unique
- Train your line managers in understanding what menopause is and how to recognise and support it
- Raise awareness – this can be done through a variety of means, whether that be having informative flyers/posters, organising educational talks/seminars, or through the use of an internal intranet forum.
- Introduce a menopause/midlife Ambassador
- Foster an inclusion mindset – this can only flourish in a workplace culture that is open, honest and makes people feel comfortable to share and seek help