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Almost all women believe their health is not supported in work

Dr. Erin Eatough, Manager of Behavioural Science - BetterUp

Nine in 10 women think there should be policies in workplaces to support women when it comes to female health issues, according to research by BetterUp1.

This comes as BetterUp also found that three in five women (59 per cent) have taken time off work due to female health issues such as menopause, fertility struggles, periods and pregnancy (not including maternity leave).

Of the 59 per cent who have taken time off due to female health issues, over a quarter (26 per cent) cited periods as the issue, 14 per cent said it was because of menopause, and almost one in five (19 per cent) took additional time off due to pregnancy.

This research comes as the UK government decided to not introduce menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Of those who have taken time off, over half (54 per cent) said that they were open to their employer as to why they needed time off, and that their employer was understanding.

However, a quarter said they didn’t feel comfortable telling their employer why they needed time off, highlighting the need for companies to create safe environments where everyone can be open and honest as to what is going on in their life. With almost 10 million women working in the UK it’s clear more needs to be done.

Over half of those surveyed (51 per cent) said their companies do not have policies in place to support women going through menopause, and among those who say their company has some support in place, 23 per cent say the support is inadequate.

Only 5 per cent of women say their workplace has been accommodating and has provided support such as a cooling fan or a workspace with more airflow.

An overwhelming 86 per cent of respondents said they would be more likely to work at a company if they had support in place for female health issues, demonstrating the business case for implementing programs that support women, especially in light of the great resignation and businesses fighting to retain talent

Of those who said they would prefer to work for a company that had support in place for female health issues, over a third (37 per cent) said it would make them think the company had a great culture.

Dr. Erin Eatough, Manager of Behavioural Science at BetterUp says, “It’s clear that there’s a business case for providing more programs that support the needs of women in the workplace. Supporting our people as they navigate health needs is not only the right thing to do from a human perspective, but it’s also clearly something organisations can do to attract and retain critical talent.”

“By investing in programs that support women, organisations are in a better place to prevent senior and experienced women from leaving, and more likely to attract and retain younger talent.

“Many women feel like female health issues can be ignored or not taken seriously by employers, so creating an environment where women feel safe to be open about what is affecting them is going to be key for employers moving forward.”

1BetterUp collected data from 429 full-time working women over 40 years old in the UK in June 2022. Ethnicities were 89% white and 10% other ethnicities.

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