Let’s talk menopause.
Yes, lets. This great taboo of a subject which has spent years quietly hidden under the proverbial carpet, is slowly making its way into the open. With everyone from Carol Vorderman to Kirsty Wark and Lorraine Kelly talking about it, the menopause is going from complete mystery to almost mainstream…
Indeed, very recently, the BBC Breakfast Show dedicated a whole week to it – with a big chunk of time focused on menopause in the workplace. And I’m glad they did. The statistics are crystal clear. Women make up almost half of the UK’s workforce and about 3.5 million are women aged 50 and over. And whilst there’s usually widespread bewilderment (from both men and women!) to the menopause to do with the symptoms, stigma and seismic life change, I believe we should celebrate reaching this natural life transition and embrace our ‘menopausal zest’.
It’s not an ending – it’s an exciting new beginning. When I think about my friends and colleagues who are on their menopausal journey, they’re achieving some great things at work, and in life generally. They’re feeling more fired-up and ambitious. They’re creative and brave. They’re more powerful and wise than they’ve ever been, and they know more than they’ve ever known. The menopause isn’t something we choose. It’s something we find a way to live and work with.
Thanks to a host of household names and business leaders talking openly about mental health, this is a subject that’s well on its way to becoming normalised. We need to do the same with the menopause. We need to educate leaders not to be afraid to lead on it and to manage and model it for others. Helping men and women to understand what women go through when they enter the menopause will also help them to understand what’s happening at home. After all, everyone at work has a daughter, sister, wife, mother or friend.
Talking about the menopause is never likely to be ‘on trend’ – but thankfully it is coming out of the shadows because people are talking about it. Millions more women will reach this milestone and, when they do, they’re likely to be up there, achieving some pretty amazing things. Businesses can’t afford to lose them. When ‘simple human frailty’ is met with compassion, kindness and understanding, the magic begins. And that can only be a good thing!
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