At the moment there’s a positive push in the area of women’s health information and support. Recent years have seen an increase in the number of high impact books available such as “The Female Factor” by Dr Hazel Wallace, “Womb” by Leah Hazard, “Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado Perez, and “Unwell Women” by Elinor Cleghorn. There is a growing wave of femtech companies such as Elvie, Clue, Syrona, and Hertility and organisations like Women of Wearables who support startups looking at a range of women's health challenges. We have also seen a rise in powerful campaigns such as #MakeMenopauseMatter by Menopause Support UK and #MeopauseWorkplacePledge by Wellbeing of Women. This progress is shining light on the years of inequality and the consequences of a lack of women’s health data.
The movement for increasing awareness and support around menopause has even made it to government. And while they are not providing everything that menopause campaign groups are asking for, the government has made HRT more affordable in England from 1 April 2023 through a prepayment certificate programme. They have also recommended that companies create a menopause champion within their workplace. This includes appointing Helen Tomlinson as Menopause Employment Champion and calling on more employers to develop menopause policies.
This is a big step forward for women’s health in the workplace and as Helen explains, it can have a huge impact.
“I have witnessed the transformational power that opening up conversations on the menopause can have in a workplace. By creating safe spaces by educating management and creating allies across workforces, women can be supported and empowered to manage their symptoms and thrive in work.”
“Less than a quarter of UK businesses currently have a menopause policy, but as I take on this role, I am determined that my generation of women in work will break the menopause taboo and have confidence that their health is valued. I look forward to working with women and leaders across all sectors of work to address this gap and make a difference for current and future generations.”
While we celebrate this move forward, we can’t help but ask if this is enough.
Creating Menopause Champions is a wonderful start, but does it go far enough and controversially is this the right move or is it in its own way not inclusive? While a huge number of women are impacted in the workplace by menopause symptoms, what about all of the women suffering from other women’s health conditions. Conditions that equally cause them to miss work, miss promotions, leave jobs and suffer in silence.
These conditions include very common conditions like endometriosis, fibroids, fertility issues, pregnancy and postnatal conditions, miscarriage and baby loss, heart disease, autoimmune disease and musculoskeletal conditions. Endometriosis alone costs the UK economy £8 billion a year in lost productivity. How can we ensure that people suffering with this are also supported?
This is why, even though we 100% support the aims behind Menopause Champions, we recommend that companies create women’s health champions instead. The Women’s Health Champions can still be menopause champions, but they will also support people struggling with other health conditions. They can bring a lot of the same aims to the table, just make them a bit broader to include more people.
Support in creating women’s health policies in the workplace
Educate on ways to improve communication at work regarding potentially difficult and taboo women's health subjects
Provide a safe and trusted space for people to come to with any concerns about how their condition is being handled at work
Signposting to places where people can get additional support and help
Provide backup support to any women’s health courses or training provided by the workplace
Just as Diversity and Inclusivity champions focus on all areas, a trained Women’s Health Champion can provide that direction for their place of work. Supporting all women requiring health support, empathy and understanding so that they not only stay in work, but actually thrive.
“When we get it right for women, everybody benefits.” Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Women’s Health Ambassador for England
To support this, Kensa Health will be offering Women’s Health Champion training options ranging from online webinars to in-person multi-day retreats. Our courses provide information on women’s health from practising medical professionals and the sessions are focused on information and support, in line with NHS guidelines. This ensures that the people we train are given the most up to date, evidence based medical information and have everything they need to support others in their workplace who might have questions about women’s health. We also guide people to further learning and support opportunities, often connecting people with a charity or non-profit organisation that focuses specifically on their condition.
With all of our training, our aim is always to inform, empower and support. We work hard to ensure our training is as inclusive as possible, bringing in conversations about how race and gender can also impact women’s health in the workplace, and in the wider society. We also don’t prescribe how to manage health conditions or provide medical treatment recommendations. Those conversations should always be individual, between a person and their doctor. However, we give people the information they need to gain an improved understanding. Our aim is to optimise health communication and conversations within work. As a result we anticipate improved engagement with healthy lifestyles, overall improved mental and physical health and in turn improved workplace satisfaction, productivity, progression and retention.
The Kensa bespoke Women’s Health in the Workplace courses are available for any business aspiring to include this within their workplace health and wellbeing programs. Going forward we recommend this includes the development of Women’s Health Champions across the business, who can support the company’s women’s health awareness, training, and policy development.
Our Women’s Health Champion courses and certification will start in October 2023. Please let us know if you are interested in hearing more about the different training options available. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org