Employee experiences of working through menopause with support from Diageo

18 Oct 2022

Today marks World Menopause Day, a day to raise awareness of menopause and break down taboos around talking about it. With research suggesting that there will be over 1 billion women experiencing menopause around the world by 2025, it is important for employers to help raise awareness of the topic and create an environment where employees are supported and feel empowered to talk about their experiences.

Earlier this year, Diageo launched the balance+ menopause support app – the world’s first medically approved menopause health and wellbeing companion for perimenopausal and menopausal women – to all employees. The first global company to make the app available to all employees worldwide, this built on the launch of our global Menopause Guidelines ‘Thriving Through Menopause’ in 2021. These guidelines are designed to help raise awareness and understanding on the menopause and to provide resources to employees and line managers who may be experiencing menopause, directly or indirectly.

To help raise awareness around World Menopause Day this year, we spoke to two Diageo employees about their own experiences.

Karen (Kaz) Chadwick is a Laboratory Technician working for Bundaberg Rum based out of Queensland, Australia. She has been with the company for 11 years and is one of Diageo’s 40 trained menopause advocates who work with their teams to help build their knowledge of what going through menopause entails.

Margaret Logue has been with Diageo for 17 years. She currently works as a Bottling Production Operator based in Glasgow, UK.

 

How has menopause affected your working life?

Kaz: I have just started the early stages of perimenopause, so it is yet to affect my working life directly – but at 46 I know it is coming soon! However, I have colleagues that have certainly experienced discomfort at work that is directly related to menopause symptoms, and I have seen how it can adversely affect their day to day.

Margaret: I went through menopause over 20 years ago. I didn’t work for Diageo then, but there was no help in my workplace at the time, so I just got on with it. Although, I am no longer having menopause symptoms, I am more than happy to talk about menopause to anyone who needs support. In fact, I recently spoke in front of several hundred people on this subject at a conference, outlining the work Diageo has done and encouraging others to adopt similar strategies.

 

What has been your experience using the Diageo Menopause guidelines – how have they impacted, or helped you?

Kaz: I am a trained menopause advocate so already have quite a good knowledge, but the guidelines are a great resource that I can direct people to, giving them the power to learn more themselves. We all need to be more active in signposting towards them, and I will certainly be highlighting them to my colleagues on World Menopause Day.

Margaret: The Diageo guidelines are excellent. The managers training pack that I have been presenting is fabulous and the response from managers has been great. There was some initial hesitation at the “mandatory” attendance, but this dissipated quickly and soon people were sharing stories about their partners, mothers, or themselves. It has been a wonder to see and has made every session so worthwhile, I love those times where I can see the “lightbulb” moment.

 

What has the reaction been to the balance+ app – have you used it?

Margaret: The roll out of the balance+ app shows how seriously Diageo is taking menopause. Although I don’t need it myself, I’ve been able to share some of the materials and tools that I found on the app with my daughter who is experiencing early menopause after being diagnosed with breast cancer. This has helped her greatly with many symptoms, such as brain fog, and she’s described the information I’ve passed on as “absolutely fantastic”.

 

Do you feel that working for a company that supports those with menopause makes it more manageable for you?

Kaz: Diageo has so many menopause resources available. The new menopause advocates are really changing the narrative and encouraging more open conversations. It makes me feel less nervous about how I will be affected when the symptoms start to impact me. I also feel supported by my line manager who I can talk to about these things without fear of judgement.

Margaret: Initially the menopause guidelines were not talked about often, however through our advocates and training sessions we have created an environment which has got people talking about menopause: on the production lines, in the canteen, in offices, with older and younger men mentioning menopause as a matter of course. It’s brilliant.

 

What would you like to see happen next to discussions around menopause within and outside of Diageo?

Kaz: I really want it to become even more accepted and open. There is nothing embarrassing about something that happens to half the population. I want to see the stigma and shame disappear, but I also want to see that women can talk about it, instead of “just getting on with it”.

Margaret: I want to see this open talk continue, that menopause becomes just another word! As a union representative, the biggest thing I would love to see is more workplaces taking on board what Diageo has done.

 

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