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Swindon Borough Council Menopause Network Group

Swindon BC set up a menopause group in response to media and celebrity profile building, and a suggestion from an employee for the need to open up the discussion about menopause to positively address personal and business needs for being menopause aware.

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The challenge

To provide an environment at the council to raise awareness for all staff of the potential effects of menopause on employees/colleagues at that time in their lives, and how best they can be supported during that time at work.

The solution

The council core action group set up a ‘Menopals’ contact group where people could have open discussions and information sharing including a teams chat platform where people can add reading materials and other information of interest to others.

The group is an environment for women to share how they are feeling and ‘buddy up’ to have those one-to-one discussions if needed.

The Menopals group meets somewhere around 3 times a year with the core team meeting around 4-6 weekly with information sharing happening in between where relevant.

Council activities for employees will increase around menopause awareness week and internal communications will build to continue the talking and sharing of the subject across the council.

The core strategy group comprises (currently) women of a variety of ages including what would be considered a younger cohort who steer the direction of the work of the council on menopause awareness and colleague need.

The impact

The council has observed positive change and hopes it will provide a supportive workplace that they will be able to measure from the demand for and attendance at events as well as being able to measure in e.g., employee surveys or any feedback from the group about how its members are feeling.

How is the new approach being sustained?

The Council is going to host a womens’ health initiative at the forthcoming Swindon Staff Expo to raise awareness and the profile of menopause.

There are plans in place to train the managers as a next step and the council inclusivity officer is on board for matters relating to womens’ health with menopause firmly in the frame.

Lessons learned

The Council can see that information, sharing knowledge and openness is definitely the way forward for addressing menopause in the workplace.

As a result of individuals sharing their experiences, the council addressed the sickness absence reporting that at the time didn’t have a menopause ‘category’, but it was considered of such importance that the more accurate term was applied to HR processes in order for it to be able to better translate to appropriate support for the employee.  The use of menopause in the language of the council helped to open up and keep the discussions going.