Emma Banks, Managing Director at ramarketing has taken some time to write an article on the sensitive subject of hormones and the role they play in our lives and workforce.
Our workforce and particularly our female colleagues spend the majority of their working life ‘dealing with’ their hormones. From difficult menstrual cycles, pregnancy, fertility issues, and miscarriage to menopause (and mammograms – ever had one? – no woman invented that machine).
Just to be clear I haven’t lost the plot (although my own peri-menopausal brain occasionally does). Having observed the devastation any kind of fertility challenge can have on both our employees and my closest friends, it’s a wonder that we have a functioning workforce at all. I am big on equality but we can do nothing about the biological clock in this instance.
There is a decent amount of attention now being drawn to menopause, infertility, pregnancy, and baby loss through people like Dr. Louise Newson, the recent documentary Sex, Myths and the Menopause on Channel 4 with Davina McCall, and the Myleene Class documentary ‘Miscarriage and me‘.
If you didn’t see Davina’s widely shared show, 1 in 10 women leave work because of the menopause. Our healthcare systems, however brilliant they are, are lagging behind in the management of menopause and many women are now seeking private support – but what do you do if you don’t have the financial resources to access private healthcare, and then there’s the shortage of hormones! And the fact testosterone isn’t licensed for use in women in the UK or the US. Rant over….
I digress – menopause is just one issue.
From the point ovulation starts to when it ends and beyond, our teams are often silently living with anything thrown at them, and that includes their partners, male and female. It’s amazing that we are now far more in tune with the needs of working mothers and fathers but what about those who want to be mothers and fathers. Where are we as employers in supporting them through the ups and downs of a primal need to be a parent? If you adopt there’s a whole heap of support but again not if you can’t conceive.
I’m really interested to speak to anyone who has initiatives not only around menopause but also the ongoing heartbreaking issue of infertility and pregnancy loss. Often not talked about but ever-present – things need to change. If I’m wrong tell me too – anything I can learn to help support our team or my friends will be invaluable.
What’s the point of this? Firstly to raise awareness – for a range of reasons we keep this stuff quiet. That’s a personal decision of course but awareness is key to being able to support our workforce and secondly because I am a woman, going through the next phase of my fertility journey, and if we want to raise awareness then I have to speak up.
It’s time to break the silence by rallying business leaders to openly address the issues that surround hormones in the workplace.
I welcome the opportunity to learn more about how employers and others in my network are supporting their teams – whether that be through people policies, learning and development, employee engagement, or other means.
As the leader of a learning and fast-evolving organisation I recognize there is a long way to go, but I’m open to being open, and to sharing best practices. As leaders it’s time to stop dancing around taboo topics to ensure we’re in a position to support our people through every stage of their life cycle.
I encourage people to reach out and connect with me to keep this conversation moving.
Dr. Louise Newson
David McCall’s Channel 4 Documentary – Sex, Myths and the Menopause
Myleene Class Documentary ‘Miscarriage and me‘.