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18 Oct 2019
by Maxine Benjamin

Why Menopause Matters to Croydon Council

Croydon Council’s Menopause Matters initiative won REBA’s Wellbeing Award for Innovation earlier this year. To mark World Menopause Day on 18 October 2019, the team have come together to outline how they are continuing with this important project.

 

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The initiative’s roots

Our menopause initiative started in 2016 – a collaboration between our internal Women’s and Mental Health and Wellbeing networks. Feedback told us that some women were struggling with menopausal issues, and were frustrated at the lack of information and workforce approach.

Data revealed that 43% of the workforce were women aged 40–65, the main age range for menopausal symptoms to begin. This statistic could also impact the productivity and retention of staff, which is vital to running our services effectively.

We wanted to do more, so the two networks and HR worked together to create:

  • A menopause guidance document for staff (including things that managers can do to assist women) – we used the TUC and Faculty of Occupational Health guidance as research for this
  • a bitesize training presentation for the whole workforce – particularly to engage with line managers
  • intranet pages about the menopause including resource information, self-help tips and links to other sites (such as NHS)
  • a support group for women (to take place every two months) to discuss tips, ideas to manage menopause and lend support to each other.

The initiative’s reception

So far, we’ve had around 250 people attend a menopause session, including training and our support group.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which can be seen in the results of a 2018 survey that looked at the impact of our resources.

Most women said they were relieved that:

  • they had resources available to inform them
  • they didn’t feel alone (and felt supported)
  • they had reassurance in their mental health – one of the distressing symptoms of menopause is the growth of anxiety, panic and depression instances.

Late last year, we also ran a menopause event which included a variety of speakers – a gynaecologist, nutrition expert and fitness representative. Around 80 people including council staff, community representatives and others came to show their support. We had a really good reaction to the event – and had particular interest in information on HRT options, nutrition and fitness issues. 

Future plans for Menopause Matters

We’re continuing this important work. Our menopause bitesize sessions still take place every two months (at least!) as well as support groups for staff.

As time has gone on our menopause work has also been recognised externally, which in turn has highlighted the profile internally.

  • In 2018 Croydon Council won the ENEI (Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion) award for overall Public Sector Employer. This submission included our menopause initiative.
  • In 2019 Croydon Council won the REBA award for Innovation based on our menopause work.

Moving forward, we’re working to include information about the menopause in induction information for all new line managers – it is already highlighted to new starters as part of general induction.

What started in 2016 keeps building momentum, and it’s the words of our staff that sum up the impact this work is having: “I am proud that I work for a borough that takes this seriously and has given this credence in the workplace, as the number of women attending shows the numbers affected.”

The author is Maxine Benjamin, HR policy and equalities manager at Croydon Council.

Entries to REBA’s Employee Wellbeing Awards 2020 are now open. Review the categories and submit your entry.

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