Diageo’s Global Talent Director on how we can all play a role in supporting those going through menopause

Diageo’s Global Talent Director on how we can all play a role in supporting those going through menopause

18 Oct 2021
Louise Prashad, Global Talent Director, Diageo

Whilst improving gender equality in the workplace has been a critical focus for businesses over the past decade, menopause remains a topic that is largely taboo in the workplace. I am pleased to see that the conversation is becoming more open and with World Menopause Day we have an opportunity to continue to raise awareness. But there is so much more that businesses, including ours, need to do beyond raising awareness.

By 2025, there will be over 1 billion women experiencing menopause in the world, which will be 12% of the entire world population. We know that women experiencing menopause symptoms, including perimenopausal ones, are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce, yet the level of action to support women is not keeping up. CIPD estimations show that nearly 900,000 women in the UK have left jobs because of menopausal symptoms over an undisclosed period and just last week a study from the Royal Collage of GP’s revealed that one in eight have quit their jobs.  The time is now for businesses to change how we educate, support and improve the experience that women have through this critical phase of their lives.

At Diageo, we have started the journey to implement changes that support women in the workplace to thrive during the menopause, though there is more to do.  This begins with listening carefully to our colleagues and creating an environment where open, and often uncomfortable conversations can take place. We are also actively encouraging all our people to build their understanding of how menopause impacts women in the workplace and their personal lives.  This needs to be backed up with tailored and practical support that can be easily accessed, recognising that every woman will have a unique experience through menopause.

We have worked in partnership with our employee resource group, the Spirited Women Network, and alongside the active support of a number of women in our business who shared their personal experiences, to design our global Menopause Guidelines, ‘Thriving through Menopause’.

One colleague, Julie, told us that during her 26 years with Diageo, she had always considered herself a ‘bubbly happy worker’, until menopause stripped this away from her. For the first time in her life, she found herself losing confidence at work, becoming anxious, struggling to engage, and suffering serious fatigue. 

Our Menopause Guidelines were launched earlier this year and are now live in 20 countries including our North America and Latin America & Caribbean businesses, as well as the UK, Ireland, Turkey, Australia, and Indonesia - with more markets to follow. Through these guidelines our female employees are encouraged to talk to line managers about practical needs, as well as have access to counselling or mindfulness sessions, and increased flexibility around things such as shift patterns or sick pay. In addition, the guidelines provide education to line managers and the wider business about understanding menopause and the effects it can have.

I’m pleased to know that our guidelines have supported Julie in some way, and through this that her working life has improved. She has also felt empowered to identify other women who may be experiencing menopause, and to offer support and start a conversation with them about this life stage.

At Diageo, we are committed to creating a supportive workplace where every person experiences dignity at work and feels valued, respected and free to succeed. Part of this involves providing support to, and removing barriers for, people experiencing life events that may impact their employee experience.

And so today, on World Menopause Day, it is imperative that all businesses look at the compelling data and take the time to listen to colleagues’ personal experiences and understand what they need, so we can all face the taboo head on.

Louise Prashad, Global Talent Director, Diageo