Why are businesses scared to address women's health issues?

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From menopause to endometriosis and from hormone-induced anxiety to fertility complications, female employees can have a lot to deal with on top of their day to day work. Pretending that women’s health issues are not relevant to their work output and staff retention figures is brushing the issue under a very large carpet.

But why is the carpet there in the first place?

Why Businesses Are Not Addressing Women’s Health Issues To Improve Productivity and Wellbeing

In June 2023 we surveyed a cross section of Lancashire business owners to find out why. We also conducted some research into wider women’s health in the workplace statistics and below are our findings...

15.66 Million Women Can Not Be Ignored

According to a March 2023 House of Commons briefing, 15.66 million women aged 16 and over were in employment during October to December 2022. Read the report on women in the workplace here. Female employment rates are increasing and therefore we firmly believe employees need to ensure they are up to speed with employment issues that are unique to women. Women in the workplace issues are much wider than just ticking a box that a certain percentage of board directors are women, which seemed to have been a focus of government action up to now.

Women employment rates were 75 per cent in quarter 4 2022 in the UK but this was far lower than other OECD countries such as Iceland and the Netherlands, both at 82 per cent. The House of Commons briefing focuses on the well documented gender pay gap in the report but what about other issues including a clear and present gender health gap? Could the lower levels of women engaging in work in the UK also be connected to their perception of how women are treated in the workplace?

The Menopause in The Workplace Example

Take the menopause for example. Just one of numerous health and wellbeing issues that are only experienced by women. The menopause is a natural life transition that an estimated 13 million women are approaching or have already gone through in the UK today. That is a third of the female UK population. See the NHS website for more information about menopause in the workplace here.

The shocking part to this statistic is that BUPA found over 900,000 women in the UK have left their jobs because of menopausal symptoms (2022). These women are often at the peak of their careers and the businesses they are leaving lose such valuable knowledge and experience that could have been prevented if women’s health in the workplace was addressed as a measurable KPI. Just think for a moment of the cost associated with training these women and then losing them and their experience.

These statistics are just taking one women’s health issue as an example but they are shocking from both a health and also from a productivity and economic perspective. This is why we conducted the survey to find out why women’s health in its broadest definition was not more of a priority in the workplace because the upside of a healthy and motivated team is so obvious.

The June 2023 Women’s Health Survey Results

The top issues preventing business owners addressing women’s health in the workplace were:

  • Stigma of women’s health from ingrained sexual discrimination
  • Lack of awareness of general symptoms and their impact
  • Lack of awareness that it’s actually a problem. Including women feeling they have to work harder to achieve the same as men and therefore not wanting to admit that their periods etc are getting in the way
  • Fear that they will get it wrong and be accused of sexism

Our Women’s Health in the Workplace Results Were Shocking

It is our mission to address this. One company at a time, we are going in with training, support, consultancy and holistic therapy skills to measurably improve women’s health in employment settings.

We have worked with companies where board directors have literally been scared to say the wrong thing when it comes to women’s health. This is where we stepped in to be a bridge between the needs of the business and the needs of the female employees.

It is not sexist to acknowledge that women have wombs, vaginas and breasts and therefore different health issues to men but it feels very wrong to brush real issues under the proverbial carpet.

Ultimately, focusing on staff wellbeing improves morale and productivity so addressing issues that can be a concern for staff and improving their physical and mental health is not only good for the culture of a business, it is good for the bottom line too.

If you are curious how dealing positively with women’s health issues in your workplace could have a positive impact on your business, give me a call. Don’t worry, we have probably heard it all before and we approach every business in a confidential and commercially sensitive way.

The first consultation is free of charge so you have nothing to lose but a lot to gain.

About Sarah

Sarah Darwen (née Coulson) is passionate about women’s health. She was diagnosed with endometriosis in her mid 20s and, having undergone treatment under the NHS unsuccessfully was faced with the heart-breaking news that a hysterectomy was the next (and only) step. She refused to accept that this was necessary and looked for alternatives to help her manage her condition. She’s been managing her endometriosis successfully for those last 20 years - most of those in remission, with only 2 flare-ups in that time.

She now offers training on reproductive, hormonal and menstrual health to managers and staff, as well as effective treatment and self-management techniques to people struggling with their symptoms.

If you would like to chat to Sarah about how your organisation can easily and effectively support the needs of the women in your workplace, please book a free Discovery Call here: https://HalcyonTherapies.as.me/workplacemenstrualhealth 

Sources

  1. Survey - Empirical research conducted in June 2023 with Lancashire BNI network members
  2. https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06838/SN06838.pdf 
  3. https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/safety-and-innovation/menopause-in-the-workplace 
  4. https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/328/women-and-equalities-committee/news/172500/new-report-mps-call-for-new-menopause-ambassador-to-keep-women-in-the-workplace/ 
     
     

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