World Menopause Day 2022: Reflecting on our new Menopause and Period Policy

A photo of Jen Kelly

Senior Business Administrator

2 minute read

Last month, we launched a Menopause and Period Policy for our team here at Nexer Digital. On World Menopause Day 2022, Jen Kelly, Senior Business Administrator, reflects on why we did it, what it means and what might come next

“…we advocate a representative, inclusive approach to our clients so why would we not do that for our own organisation?”

Photo of Hilary Stephenson

Hilary Stephenson, MD – 10 years of Nexer, May 2017

Nexer Digital has tried to be much more than just ‘a place to work’. From hybrid working before it was fashionable to re-imagining a genuinely inclusive recruitment process, there is much that we have done and much more still to do. We actively encourage the team to talk to each other, to share good things and bad, and to speak up about what we might be missing as an employer to help all this happen. We also know that is easier said than done. 

To help this all happen, we’ve got an impressive suite of policies and procedures that cover a huge range of employment questions, life events and situations. Need to swap your bank holidays around? There’s a policy for that. Maybe you fancy a chance to work abroad as part of our cultural exchange programme with the wider Nexer group? We’ve got you covered. But what about a policy to address how we will support something that over half of the world's population will encounter at some point in their life – periods and the menopause? 
 
In the UK there are currently around 4.5 million women aged 50 – 64 in employment. Women are staying in work for longer, and as a result, the number of women who will experience menopause while in employment is increasing too. Research also indicates many women feel forced to leave their jobs by menopausal symptoms. Indeed, according to Professor Jo Brewis speaking to the Women and Equalities Committee in 2021 “…women who reported at least one problematic menopausal symptom—just one, most of us have more than one—at the age of 50 were 43% more likely to have left their jobs by the age of 55 and 23% more likely to have reduced their hours.” These figures make for stark reading, and they’re just another reason why we were keen to take steps to create our own company policy.  

The support has been there since Nexer Digital was formed 15 years ago, but it was often on a case-by-case basis, relying on individuals to speak up about how they were feeling and what they needed. This works well when you’re a small start-up but comes with added challenges as you grow in size. Creating a policy is not a replacement for individual support, far from it, but it means we can outline exactly what the team can expect and what that support should look like. It creates a useable resource for managers and a jumping off point for conversations that can sometimes feel uncomfortable (because, despite our advances, we’re all still beautifully awkward humans after all).  

What it means 

Launching a period and menopause policy meant more than simply creating a perfectly formatted Word document (although it is perfectly formatted!). It meant taking the time to absorb the research, study the statistics and talk to those who have gone before. It meant speaking to the team to work out what should be included and looking through various templates, documents and case studies. 

 All that resulted in a 9-page policy. If you’d would like to see the policy, we’d be happy to share it in full, but it includes: 

  • Information on making our workspaces as comfortable as possible 
  • Highlighting existing policies around time off, sickness and flexi-time 
  • Definitions of menstruation, menopause and a range of related symptoms, to attempt to make these topics more comfortable for all 
  • Help for managers on how to approach conversations around periods, menopause and associated topics 
  • Signposting both for internal resources and external sources of information 
  • An acknowledgement that issues around periods and menopause can affect those that don’t identify as women, as well as partners and family members 
  • Free period products available in our offices 

What comes next 

This is a starting point of course. The policy, and more importantly our activity around it, will adapt and evolve as we go forward and learn more. There is also a lot of discussion happening on the national stage, with a cross-party UK Menopause Taskforce government initiative looking at more formal changes in UK employment. 

In the immediate future for us, it’ll be about what we can achieve day-to-day. Encouraging more conversations across the team, helping people ask for what they need, when they need it. Breaking down some of the taboos when talking about periods and menopause and linking in with other important initiatives across the team such as our inclusive language guidelines, currently in development, and mental health support. 

There will likely be many more opportunities for knowledge sharing and training that we’ll explore. As we continue to grow as a team and continue to employ brilliant, diverse people, we will continue to adapt our ways of working to make sure we’ve got everyone’s back, whatever the situation.