Employers were urged to tackle the ‘last taboo in the workplace’ when a Dorset Chamber campaign about the menopause sparked nationwide interest.
Nearly 60 delegates attended the ‘Let’s Talk about the Menopause’ launch event held online about how the issue can affect women’s health and their working lives.
They included British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) director general Shevaun Haviland, Labour shadow business minister Seema Malhotra and BCP Council leader Cllr Drew Mellor.
Ms Malhotra described the Dorset Chamber’s campaign as ‘trailblazing’ and urged businesses to contribute to an All-Party Parliamentary Group at Westminster conducting an enquiry into issues around the menopause.
Ms Haviland said: “The menopause is one of the last taboos.
“No-one has ever really talked about it in the workplace and it’s something that affects probably 50 per cent of our staff for 10 to 15 years of their careers.
“I’m really delighted that you are dealing with some something quite so progressive.”
In polls held during the event 71 per cent of women said that the menopause had a negative impact on their ability to work and 78 per cent said it was not discussed with line managers.
The keynote speaker at the event was Dr Sarah Hattam, a practising GP and expert on health and wellbeing in the workplace.
She warned that a significant proportion of women step back from their careers or leave their jobs because of the negative impact of menopause and lack of support.
Dorset Chamber head of finance and administration Theresa Higgins gave a personal account of her experiences dealing with the effects of the menopause.
Chief executive Ian Girling said: “We believe we are the first chamber to tackle this issue in this way.
“Our poll at the event showed that nearly three quarters of women had been adversely affected by the menopause, which demonstrates just how important an issue it is.
“It was a fantastic and powerful event but it was just the start and we will be looking to build on this.”
Other speakers included Kevin Barnett of sponsors Lester Aldridge and Amelia Hooley of Dorset Mind.
Dorset Chamber president Caron Khan said: “It was an amazing event, thought provoking and very inspiring.
“We at are determined to create a culture in which we are talking about the menopause and I do hope that we can continue to talk about this subject and inspire other organisations to do the same. It’s definitely not a taboo subject at Dorset Chamber.”
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Research from the independent Nuffield Health group found:
- About 13 million women in the UK are either peri or post menopausal
- Symptoms can last up to 15 years
- Over 60% of women experience symptoms resulting in behaviour changes
- One in four women will experience severe debilitating symptoms
- Almost half of menopausal women say they feel depressed
- A third of women say they suffer with anxiety
- Approximately two-thirds of women say there is a general lack of support and understanding