Big UK banks, insurers and asset managers are taking part in landmark menopause survey, fearing that a lack of support could hamper gender equality and prevent women from leading positions in the city .
Standard Chartered, who commissioned women’s rights charity, the Fawcett Society, to survey more than 300,000 workers in the financial sector, said menopause should be viewed as a “workplace issue.”
Women are the fastest growing demographic in the labor market, accounting for 45% of UK financial services workforce. However, although women such as NatWest CEO Alison Rose and former Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gadhia are raising the profile of women in the city, women make up less than a third of positions. management in the sector.
“We know that for most women, the time they have the opportunity to seek leadership positions coincides with the transition to menopause, typically between 45 and 55 years of age. [years old]Said Tanuj Kapilashrami, Director of Human Resources at Standard Chartered. “It’s a subject we don’t know much about. “
Symptoms can last from 12 months to eight years and tend to be severe for 25% of women. They can include hot flashes, migraines, brain fog, depression and irritability, and loss of self-confidence – potentially exacerbated by a persistent lack of sleep. The consequences of menopause can deter women from higher positions – causing them to quit demanding jobs more often than men.
“If we don’t tackle some of the challenges that impact women’s participation in the labor market, we won’t be able to move forward,” Kapilashrami said.
The Fawcett Society will conduct a survey of city workers through the Financial Services Skills Commission, which has Barclays, EY, HSBC, Legal & General and PwC as members.
It will explore how symptoms of the menopause transition and employer attitudes affect women’s career prospects and whether this results in a cost to the economy. Researchers will also examine the best way for employers to support affected staff – potentially involving manager training, dedicated sick days, flexible working, and private and cool workspaces – and whether these support systems should be adopted. across the industry.
The survey will not only target women affected by menopause, but younger men and women who may be working with or managing them. He will also organize focus groups with women of color and trans employees.
Little work has been done to study the impact of menopause on the long-term careers of women in the UK. However, a 2017 government review of previous studies found that postmenopausal women were one of the fastest growing working groups.
According to the Office for National Statistics, women over 50 make up around 13% of UK workers, meaning that around 130,000 financial services workers may be facing the menopausal transition at some point.
Rebecca Park, a financial services consultant at Global Counsel who previously worked for banking lobby group UK Finance, is only 38 years old, but has been suffering from menopause symptoms for almost two years. She said she was afraid to raise concerns about how the transition was affecting her memory and cognitive abilities at a key point in her career.
While the colleagues were ultimately sympathetic, it took courage to speak up. “I didn’t dare to take the risk to admit that maybe I wasn’t functioning as always because [I worried] it would be seen as a weakness and detrimental to my career, ”said Park.
It is hoped that the research, which is expected to be published in October, could eventually trigger new UK laws to support postmenopausal women in the workforce.
“We need to step out of the shadows of this sadly poorly discussed topic, remove the stigma and identify the steps we all need to take so that menopause is not a barrier to success,” Susan Revell, BNY Mellon vice president of operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said.
“The lessons learned from this research will be essential in raising awareness and helping companies identify and propose more targeted solutions.