India Inc. Needs To Address Needs Of Menopausal Women In The Workplace, NOW!

Menopause is a reality in women's lives, so Indian workplaces need to gear up and address women's menopausal needs.

Picture this: A seasoned executive at the peak of her career suddenly grapples with hot flashes and sleep disturbances during important meetings. She also battles mood swings and cognitive changes, affecting her productivity and confidence. Eventually, she resigns from her job.

Fiction? Not really. The scenario above is a reality many women face as they navigate menopause while meeting their work responsibilities.

Menopause is the time when a woman stops menstruating. This natural condition marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. The transition brings unique physical, emotional, and psychological changes for women.

Beyond individual anecdotes, the statistics paint a stark picture. About a billion women around the globe are expected to experience Menopause by 2030. This is a sizable number. Yet, workplaces often relegate the needs of menopausal women to the sidelines.

Why India Inc can’t ignore the reality of menopause

Menopause is an inevitable biological event in a woman’s life. It typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. This coincides with the point when most working women are in senior leadership roles.

Menopause can significantly affect a woman’s physical health, mental well-being, and performance. Physical symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and fatigue can disrupt daily activities. This makes it challenging for women to concentrate and stay productive at work. Emotional changes, including mood swings, anxiety, and memory problems, can erode one’s self-esteem. This may lead to decreased job satisfaction and performance.

To top it up, most women are unlikely to speak up about it! Despite its widespread prevalence, menopause is often viewed as a taboo subject. It is discussed in hushed tones or brushed aside altogether. This often leaves menopausal women feeling isolated, misunderstood, and unsupported. They may stop taking on additional work responsibilities and, in extreme cases, even drop out of the workforce.

Losing senior women talent can hinder companies’ DE&I and talent retention goals.

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Where do organisations currently stand on menopausal support?

Several companies in India have started recognising the importance of supporting menopausal women employees. A leading MNC bank provides medical coverage and 24*7 access to doctor consultations for employees. A leading FMCG company is providing flexible work schedules for menopausal women.

These efforts are commendable. Yet, most companies lack comprehensive policies and programs tailored to support menopausal women. Male employers and colleagues may also lack awareness about the condition.

As a result, women feel reluctant to seek help for their symptoms. This often leads to underutilisation of available resources and support services.

Beyond medical coverage: How can India Inc. support menopausal women?

Medical coverage is a good first step. Companies also need to focus on holistic wellness programs. They need to address the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of Menopause.

Access to mental health support services is crucial

Menopause often brings about significant mental health challenges. This includes mood swings, anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating.

Companies need to integrate mental health support services into their wellness programs. These services will help employees deal with the emotional aspects of Menopause. Access to coaching, counselling, and support groups for menopausal women will also help.

This proactive approach will also reflect a commitment to employee well-being.

Flexible work policies empower menopausal women

Flexible work arrangements allow women to manage their symptoms better. Options to adjust work hours, telecommute, or take breaks as needed can help ease the discomfort associated with Menopause. This will also allow employees to contribute effectively at work while caring for their well-being.

Some organisations have policies on remote work, flexible scheduling, or compressed work weeks. These initiatives help women maintain effective work-life balance during this significant transition.

Education and training break the taboos around Menopause

Menopause is often shrouded in societal taboos and misconceptions in India. Many women fear judgement or discrimination in the workplace. This makes them uncomfortable in disclosing their menopausal status.

Creating a culture of acceptance and support within organisations requires proactive measures. Strategies for reducing stigma include implementing training sessions, workshops, and informational materials that address common misconceptions and provide guidance for support.

Open dialogue and communication channels in organisations around Menopause can help normalise discussions. Sensitisation will also pave the way for a more supportive and empathetic culture.

Face the facts: Menopause is a reality that matters in the workplace

Menopause may significantly impact a woman’s career and mindset. Societal stigma and cultural taboos force many women to face these challenges alone in silence.

India Inc. needs to recognise the needs of women at this life stage. Open support and dialogue will help prevent the exodus of senior women talent and ensure workplace productivity.

Companies need to look beyond comprehensive medical coverage for menopausal women. Mental health support, flexible work policies, and workshops create an inclusive work environment. These measures also enhance employee well-being, productivity, and retention.

A culture of empathy and support at different life stages will make every employee feel valued, respected, and supported. This will also enable women to succeed and thrive in the workplace.

Image source: YouTube/ a still from Listen, Amaya

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About the Author

Smita Das Jain

Smita Das Jain is a writer by passion who writes every day. Samples of her writing are visible in the surroundings around her — her home office, her sunny terrace garden, her husband’s car and read more...

41 Posts | 49,665 Views

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