When we started Kensa Health we knew we wanted to support and provide important information on women’s health conditions. Too many women are suffering from a lack of knowledge and awareness around uncommon and common health conditions. One of the biggest issues women face is how their health can impact them in the workplace. Critically the main issue seems to be around the inability to talk about their conditions and/or managers and colleagues not understanding how to support them. Some of the key challenges that come up again and again in our conversations with women are around the lack of support and understanding around fertility issues, miscarriage, menopause, chronic pain and menstrual health conditions.
At this point business owners might be wondering why this matters? Well news came out last year saying that 1 in 4 women consider leaving their job due to the lack of support around menopause. 1 in 10 women have endometriosis and yet most of society doesn’t know about the condition. And 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage, but most companies don't know how to support employees going through this period of loss (for both parents).
With over 15.5 million women in work in the UK, it isn’t surprising that women’s health at work is a key part of the Women’s Health Strategy for England especially after their findings in the 2020 survey of over 100k women across England.
“Around 1 in 3 respondents said women feel comfortable talking about health issues in their workplace (35%), and 1 in 2 said their current or previous workplace had been supportive with regards to health issues (53%).
Of those who said a health condition or disability had impacted their experience in the workplace (62%), more than 3 in 4 said it had increased their stress levels (76%) and 2 in 3 said it had impacted their mental health (67%). We also found that:
26% said it impacted their earnings
25% said it affected their opportunities for promotion
22% said it meant they stopped work earlier than they had planned
To raise awareness of and destigmatise women’s health conditions and their impact in the workplace, many respondents called on employers to do more to encourage and facilitate open discussions with line managers and colleagues.”
We’ve also heard a number of difficult stories first hand through our Women’s Health Voices campaign.
“My company didn’t understand my endometriosis condition and thought I was just slacking off work. Because I’m still waiting for a diagnosis, it was hard to get them to listen to me. They don’t understand it can take up to 7 years to get a diagnosis. In the end I went private to get a diagnosis so I could get the support I needed.”
“While working at my last company, I suffered an early miscarriage. It was a very traumatic time for me, but when I was ready I went back to work. How I was treated at work was even worse. I wish the people I worked with had had some training on how to cope with miscarriage and baby loss. It is so common and yet it is never talked about.”
We realised something needed to change, not just for the women, but also for employers who want to do more for their teams. In addition to the feedback from the survey there is clear evidence that health support from employers can make a big difference to all employees.
“While there was some focus on health and wellbeing before the pandemic, employee wellness is now on the roadmap of every company. It has become as important as the financial health of the organisation,” says Flore Pradère, Research Director, Global Corporate Solutions Research at JLL. “Initiatives vary between companies but at their core, they’re aiming to alleviate stress, improve physical health and support employees.”
So working with a number of progressive employers, we’ve created a series of women’s health courses for the workplace. The courses focus on not only explaining women’s health conditions, they also look at the physical and mental impact of the conditions and how women can be better supported at work.
Delivered mainly online, the courses are created for everyone in the business (not just women) and will help foster a better understanding of what women go through. Within the course we also look at the impact that women’s health can have on partners, for example discussing the role some people might have to take as a carer or the impact baby loss can have on both partners.
We are already speaking with a number of businesses across the UK about delivering this course and we are working together to help train women’s health champions within their business. We are even working with a number of NHS Trusts to provide additional training courses with the most up to date information on women’s health for medical professionals.
We can’t wait for 2023 to be the year that companies take women’s health conditions at work seriously and make a positive change for the better.
You can find out more about our women’s health at work training here. If you are interested in how we can work with you to create a learning programme for your team for your team, please drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org