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The menopause factor: An overlooked aspect of workplace well-being

December 12, 2023
By Angela Johnson

Photo: Adobe Stock

An evolving trend in today’s business landscape is the growing recognition of the invaluable skills and diverse perspectives that women bring to leadership roles.

Studies from leading institutions, including  Harvard Kennedy School and McKinsey, consistently demonstrate that organizations with women in senior positions not only foster a more inclusive atmosphere, they also achieve higher profitability and productivity. MSCI’s research further supports this, directly linking the presence of women on company boards to increased organizational efficiency.

Addressing the unspoken challenge

Despite these strides, a critical and often overlooked challenge affecting these women is menopause. This natural life phase, which affects women as well as some trans and non-binary individuals, is often a ‘silent and ignored’ issue in most organizations.

In 2023, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) reported that a majority of working women aged 40 to 60 experience menopause-related symptoms, with over half facing work disruptions due to these symptoms. The spectrum of these symptoms, ranging from psychological effects like anxiety and depression to physical discomforts, can significantly disrupt daily activities and work performance.


In October, the Menopause Foundation of Canada reported 1 in 10 women leaves the workplace due to unmanaged menopausal symptoms.

The impact on disability claims and workplace health

The challenge is further complicated as life and health insurance carriers struggle to quantify disability claims directly attributable to menopause symptoms. Menopause, being a natural biological event, lacks a designated disability classification.

Yet, there is compelling evidence of a notable gender disparity in disability claims, especially in mental health conditions, where claims for women are notably twice that of men, with a striking 70% higher incidence of depression among women. This data points to a crucial oversight in the workplace health and disability management, where menopause remains under-acknowledged and under-addressed.

Canada’s healthcare shortcomings deepen menopause challenges

This oversight is not limited to the workplace but extends to the medical community.  A shocking lack of menopause education leaves many doctors ill-equipped to offer effective treatments. Training during medical school is minimal, and medical textbooks often provide scant information on menopause. A study revealed that 58% of analyzed medical textbooks used around the world had no reference to menopause and 12% dedicated less than a paragraph to the topic.

This educational gap results in a healthcare system that frequently fails to provide adequate support for women during this pivotal life transition, leading to misdiagnosed or inadequately treated symptoms, further prolonging disability absences and impacting the workforce.

Redefining workplace benefits with menopause support

Addressing the challenges posed by menopause in the workplace necessitates innovative and responsive workplace benefits.

A Bank of America report, released in June, found that 64% of working American women want menopause-specific benefits. The United Kingdom stands out as a leader in this area, with over half of its employers (53%) already providing menopause-related benefits to their employees.

A prime example of this progressive approach is Aon’ UK division which has developed a comprehensive model for menopause support. Their benefits package includes essential elements such as consultations with general practitioners who have specialized training in menopause, coupled with ongoing guidance on managing symptoms via a nurse-led health line, and the provision for follow-up consultations.

This multifaceted approach not only offers immediate relief to those in need but also ensures sustained support over time, substantially improving the work life quality of employees navigating through menopause and setting a precedent for companies worldwide.

The business case for menopause-specific benefits

The inclusion of menopause-focused benefits in workplace health plans is more than a supportive gesture; it’s a strategic decision with tangible business benefits.

By effectively addressing menopause, companies can reduce mental-health and other menopause symptom-related claims and absences, leading to improved productivity and a more engaged workforce.

Such steps in benefits inclusion not only set a new standard for workplace well-being but also position a company as an employer of choice for top talent seeking supportive and progressive workplaces.

Angela Johnson is the CEO and Co-founder of sanoLiving, leads this Canadian women’s midlife virtual health centre pioneering new solutions in women’s health.

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