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Are the majority of retail businesses failing to deal with Menopause?

As we celebrate World Menopause Day 2022, we look to reflect on how retailers are supporting and enabling conversations around the menopause with employees. The menopause… View Article


Are the majority of retail businesses failing to deal with Menopause?

As we celebrate World Menopause Day 2022, we look to reflect on how retailers are supporting and enabling conversations around the menopause with employees.

The menopause affects half of the population which includes women, those that have a menstrual cycle such as some trans men, and people who identity as non-binary. It can also impact relatives, partners or friends that are supporting someone going through the menopause.

1 in 3 employers not equipped to support woman
A new survey from Acas has found that a third of employers (33%) do not feel well equipped to support women going through the menopause.

Sixty-one percent of retailers do not have a menopause policy
Employment law firm Irwin Mitchel commissioned a menopause survey with YouGov. The study working across British retail businesses found that three in five (61%) of businesses working in the retail sector do not have a menopause policy.

According to Jenny Arrowsmith, a partner at Irwin Mitchell, businesses will continue to lose skilled workers if they continue to disregard the significance of how menopause symptoms such as joint pain, hot flushes, memory loss, fatigue and anxiety, can dramatically impact performance at work.

The retail industry has a real responsibility to step up.  Retailers must invest in menopause policies, training, communication and awareness – there is a lot to do. Support starts with creating more open conversations at work.

  • The high street chain Timpson announced one year ago that they would pay for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions for staff going through the menopause. The business’ journey to offer this support started by including educational pieces in Timpson Group News, its weekly magazine that is distributed across the group.  In a statement, the retailer said: “Even just opening up the conversation has showed a massive change for us. We have received feedback from our male staff who now better understand the potential symptoms and side effects of the menopause and have been able to have more open conversations with their family members and partners. It has improved their understanding not only in work, but at home too.”
  • Boots were the first  health and beauty retailer to receive the  independent accreditation of Menopause Friendly. As an employee incentive, the retailer covers the cost of team members’ prescriptions for HRT. The retailer also offers menopause at work guidance, have setup a menopause network internally, offer counselling sessions and access to an online doctor.
  • Tesco has signed the Menopause Workplace Pledge and is committed to helping its staff understand and talk openly about menopause. A number of initiatives have been setup at the retailer including a Menopause Café and a colleague guide. Following staff feedback, Tesco also introduced breathable fabrics for its in-store uniforms to help those going through menopause feel more comfortable at work.
  • Online fashion retailer Asos launched a new package of policies one year ago to provide support to colleagues of all genders going through health-related life events including menopause.
  • The DFS Furniture Group, which includes the brands DFS, Sofology and The Sofa Delivery Company boast a comprehensive menopause policy, trained up colleagues, digital support through the Peppy app and expert consultations for staff by My Menopause Centre. The retailer also has dedicated menopause champions.
  • The John Lewis Partnership is an accredited Menopause Friendly employer. The retailer has a holistic support package for its employees at all stages of menopause, which includes guidance, health advice and access to free mental health support. Additional policies involve flexible working and dedicated support when taking time off work when experiencing symptoms of menopause.
  • Holland & Barrett have been an actively campaigning for many years to open the conversation up around menopause. The firm is a founding partner of UK initiative GenM, an organisation that encourages brands to recognise and respond to the needs of perimenopausal and menopausal women. Last month, H&B announced they had trained over 4,000 staff to be menopause advisors. Today, the retailer has launched a partnership with Menopause Mandate to pilot a free and national menopause helpline. Read our interview with Fiona Sweny, Wellness Futures Science Lead at Holland & Barrett.
  • The Co-op launched a menopause support guide for all 4,500 managers across Co-op food stores, funeral homes, legal services and insurance businesses in April this year. The guide has been created in partnership with the Usdaw and Unite unions.  The Co-op encourage staff to use a Wellbeing Action Plan to identify how menopausal symptoms are impacting their work so that changes can be made where needed.
  • Specsavers, also an accredited Menopause Friendly employer, run eLearning for all UK store and support office colleagues. The retailers also introduced ‘MenoTalk’, a colleague led community network that  provides members with a safe space to discuss, listen and share their menopause experiences. The group has been pivotal in bringing the training to life and regularly meet to share feedback to help build a menopause-friendly working environment.

Getting help and resources:

Menopause Friendly’s Independent Panel sets the benchmark standards for employers to achieve Menopause Friendly Accreditation. It provides workshops, events, resources and communication materials to support employers – helping them write policies and guidance documents and put training, communication and engagement plans in place. Read our interview with Deborah Garlick, CEO of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace.

Acas advice is that menopause is a health and wellbeing concern for staff and needs to be handled sensitivity. Employers that create and support an open environment around the menopause can help affected staff to continue to do their job confidently and effectively. For Acas’s full advice on menopause at work, can be found here.

It would be remiss of us to not make mention of all the outreach, support and resources provided by Retail Trust. More information can be found here.

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