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Insights Atkins signs the Menopause Workplace Pledge

Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, has just signed the Wellbeing of Women—Menopause Workplace Pledge. This commitment is the next step in our journey where we actively ensure everyone with menopause is supported. Thank you to our Menopause employee network and HR team, who have made this step possible.
 
"It's only by talking about menopause openly, challenging the stigma surrounding it, raising awareness and putting the proper support in place that we will get to a point where menopause and its impact on individuals are well understood in our workplace."
 
"However, right now, we are not at that stage. It can be hidden with potentially significant consequences for both the company and our staff. By committing to this pledge, we’re shining a light on the issue and signifying the importance of the journey we are on in addressing the challenges of menopause."
—Scott Kelley, Rail Global Market Lead, Menopause Network sponsor

We recently spoke to Helena, Mario and Mel from the UK human resources team and associate director Caroline:

Photo of Mel from the UK Human Resources team smiling towards the camera

What are the effects of menopause at work?


Helena: Symptoms can include anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, poor memory, hot flushes, and irregular and heavy bleeding. Without workplace support, these can lead to loss of confidence, decreased productivity, taking time off work, and less job satisfaction.

Caroline: Six in 10 women experiencing menopause say it negatively impacts their work. And they can have these symptoms for an average of 7 to 8 years—that's a long time. Yet it remains a taboo topic in many workplaces. Women will continue to suffer in silence unless we break the stigma and start talking about it openly.

"It's a highly personal matter for women, and we understand that many won't want to discuss it at work. We also realize that some will have no choice because their symptoms are just so hard to manage. This is why we want to create a culture where everyone knows about menopause and can have these conversations if they need to or want to."


Why is menopause everybody's business?


Mel: Menopause can be an incredibly challenging time, not just for those experiencing it directly but also for those supporting a partner, family member, friend or colleague.

Caroline: Did you know that due to the lack of education and support at work, 10% of women give up their jobs during menopause? We all need to get our heads around it to support, retain and enable the performance of our women—and attract more. 

Helena: Women over 50 are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace. But, around 900,000 women have quit their jobs due to menopause. Three in four women experience menopause symptoms, and one in four have severe symptoms. If we're serious about attracting and retaining this talent, we have to take menopause seriously as a health issue.


How well known is the Menopause Workplace Pledge?

 
Mel:  It has quite a few high-profile signatories, including John Lewis, ASOS, TSB and KPMG. Creating and maintaining an inclusive culture is vital at Atkins. As our UK&E Equality, Diversity & Equality (ED&I) programme highlights, we want to create an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive as their true selves.

Mario: By adding our name to this campaign, we hope Atkins will help encourage others to become supportive and understand colleagues affected by menopause.

When did we start talking about menopause?


Mel: The organization has been ahead of the curve on this subject since 2017. The key was always to try to open the conversation. The less embarrassed you are as a manager, the less embarrassed women will feel in raising the issue. So, we've now trained over 20 Menopause Advocates in the UK to support employees or line managers unsure of how to broach the subject or support with symptoms.

Caroline: In 2019, a couple of close friends at work started to suffer from pretty bad symptoms. I began to really appreciate the significant impact it can have. I learned more about it, and I became a Menopause Advocate. At Atkins, we always start meetings with a 10 minute ED&I Moment. So, Mel and I created some on menopause, which sparked many helpful conversations.

Mel: At the beginning of 2021, the team started to work towards a menopause-friendly employer accreditation with a company called Henpicked. We're changing our policies and behaviours around the issue, offering reasonable adjustments, sick leave and ensuring awareness with in-house advocate training, for example.
 

What else are we doing to support our colleagues going through menopause?

 
Caroline: Our ED&I networks are there to offer support and community to people. We already have a Menopause at Work Yammer group inviting females only to talk openly and freely about experiences that may be sensitive to them. We want to encourage even more open discussion. So, with Scott Kelley from Transportation as the sponsor, an additional Menopause Awareness Group has started to help anyone understand the issues.
 
Mel: HR recently held a Menopause at Work survey. The feedback has led us to expand our menopause-related resources on the UK&E Wellbeing Hub. At the same time, our Advocates promote menopause activity at Atkins and help employees access the right supportive and educational materials.
 
Helena: Creating an open environment can make a huge difference. For example, we're planning to launch a Menopause Coffee Stop on 24th March. It will be a safe, virtual space to meet colleagues and share experiences or just have a chat.

Here's more on how we support women with all aspects of their life and work #InsideAtkins.