About three-quarters of women going through menopause don’t receive treatment. And each year, employers experience a $26.6 billion loss in decreased productivity and increased medical costs because of menopause.
This is an area that employers need to address, especially considering that women will spend more of their lives in menopause than their fertile years, one healthcare executive argued during a recent panel discussion at HLTH 2023 in Las Vegas.
“[Employers need to] start talking about perimenopause and menopause, especially with their younger employees. That means women in their 30s,” said Alicia Jackson, CEO and founder of Evernow, a digital health company for women going through perimenopause and menopause. “Train your leaders to look out for it, to open a discussion around it.”
“This is something every woman will go through,” she continued. “It’s not unique, everyone will go through it and the sooner we start talking about it and talking about the symptoms that you’re not going to expect, the better it’ll be. Then women can actually start getting the care that they need.”
Evernow recently released a survey of more than 2,000 women between the ages of 40 and 60. It found that 65% of respondents feel that their menopause needs are overlooked by their employers and are concerned about being stigmatized if they talk about menopause. Just 31% of respondents feel comfortable speaking about menopause with HR.
“Women will not bring it up with a male manager,” Jackson said. “That’s what we learned. It’s just unspoken right now.”
Jackson added that hot flashes, which are commonly spoken about with menopause, aren’t the only symptom of menopause. Women also experience anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and brain fog. These are areas that can greatly impact productivity at work.
“We think about menopause as a female health issue,” she said. “It is a brain issue. It is a cognitive health issue. It is a full body experience.”
Asima Ahmad, chief medical officer of Carrot Fertility, was a co-panelist and echoed Jackson’s comments. The company, which offers fertility benefits for employers, also recently did a survey about menopause and found that 80% of respondents said that it is challenging to manage their menopause symptoms at work.
“It wasn’t even industry-related,” Ahmad said. “Every sector, every industry was reporting that. And the majority felt that they were uncomfortable bringing it up with their employer because of that shame and stigma.”
Jackson added that employers have a lot to lose if they don’t provide menopause support to their employees, noting that 60% of women above the age of 40 are planning “to quit, to leave, to retire, to not take that promotion.”
“Companies are facing a real crisis right now, where they’re not seeing younger people come into the workforce, but their most valuable folks who are leading their companies are having silence around this topic and they will not bring it up,” Jackson stressed.
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