Women’s health at work, Q&A
We put listeners’ questions from a recent webinar on ‘equality at work and the role women’s health plays in it’ to team of specialists at Bupa.
The webinar was part of SHP’s Webinar Wednesdays series and if you missed the live broadcast you can get hold of the on-demand recording here.
The webinar covered:
- Why gender inclusion is beneficial for businesses commercially, particularly as we enter a time of economic hardship;
- Why businesses need to provide basic access to healthcare services for women;
- The link between mental health and women’s health events, such as menopause;
- Steps businesses can take in order to support women’s differing health needs.
It featured: CEO of City Mental Health Alliance, Poppy Jaman OBE; CEO of Bupa Insurance, Alex Perry; Managing Director and Head of Employee Relations, EMEA at Goldman Sachs, Caroline Dunne; and Commercial Director for Health Services at Bupa, Alaana Woods.
As passionate successful leaders what advice would you give to individuals who want to support these areas more in their own organisations/careers and lives?
“It’s great to hear that you’re looking to support women’s health in your organisation. The best way to support this is to feel confident and comfortable speaking about your own experiences, share your own story in internal campaigns or if you’re brave enough on social media. By speaking out about women’s health events in your life, you are also encouraging other women to do the same!
“Why not educate yourself – female health events can overlap or be significantly different to a friend or family member. It’s important to know that everyone is different so no female health experience will be the same, make sure you’re happy speaking with friends and family as well as colleagues about what they’re experiencing.”
How do we make this less scary for gents? Gender equality is seen as a women’s issue when it is actually an organisational issue and our male allies are massively important.
“The best way to do this is through normalising the conversation, whether this is around periods or menopause, men should feel comfortable speaking about them.
“Try running internal campaigns that raise awareness of women’s health and conditions associated with them such as endometriosis or fertility problems. Lots of women’s health events have awareness days associated with them so this would be a great chance to run internal campaigns.
“As well as this, try creating manager’s guides for managers and line managers to give them the tools and the language to encourage them to feel comfortable and have these conversations even if they find them difficult.”
What is the best way to engage senior leaders – to do more than say they “support” things in sound bites?
“Create new policies or include women’s health in policies that already exist. For example, add menopause or conditions related to periods into sickness policies so women are supported.”
Do you have any advice for how male managers can be encouraged to deal with menopause within the workplace?
“The key to normalising the conversation around menopause in the workplace is education. Whether this is through manager or line manager training or internal campaigns.
“A good way of doing this is creating manager’s guides which talk about symptoms and encourage managers to have conversations and feel comfortable having these with team members.
“We created a risk assessment document and infographic to help with these conversations. I’ve attached these so feel free to use them.”
I work in a predominantly female environment; what do you suggest we do for menopause? we do nothing at the moment.
“Why not try starting a conversation with your female colleagues and listen to their experiences. This will help people to open up about their experiences and help them talk about what’s happening to them when they start having symptoms.
“You could also try running an internal campaign, raising awareness of symptoms and signposting to advice and support.
“If you don’t have menopause as part of your sickness policy, can you look at introducing it? Other things that could be considered are desk fans, uniforms with breathable fabric and access to showers and changing spaces.”
Please could you assist me with factors to be considered in risk assessing women health and safety @ the workplace, ex. in an industrial agricultural setup?
“Addressing women’s health in the industrial agricultural is just as important as in the office. Think about the types of uniform or clothing they need to wear for their job, can you make it more breathable in case of hot flushes?
“Have toilets that are easily accessible for women and if you can facilities where they can wash and change, these can be vital in supporting women’s health in this industry. Women need toilets which are different to men to be able to dispose of sanitary products.
“Create a risk assessment form and look at other areas where you can make changes to provide support for women’s health in your industry.”
My team is mostly gender balanced, but not age balanced. I am a full-time working mum of young children in nursery and primary school. the others in my team are grandfathers and some not married or without kids. I’m quite bothered about taking time off for my sick children as I am the primary caregiver. I think it’s difficult for the men who are in managerial positions to understand this and it’s worrisome. what kind of advice do you have for me to deal with this? My line manager believes he’s supportive, but I still have that mum guilt when the burden stresses me at work.
“Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, being a working mum is difficult and your managers have to understand that you have other priorities. If you don’t feel like you’re being supported by your line manager, is there someone else you can talk to in your HR department or do you have access to an EAP where you can get confidential 24/7 advice?
“COVID-19 has given us all the ability to work differently and we need to give ourselves permissions to work flexibly. If you need to log off early and log back on later then do that, it’s all about what works best for you, just make sure you communicate that to your manager so he’s aware.”
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