From menopause and menstruation to issues surrounding fertility, women face different healthcare concerns to their male counterparts, and yet many workplaces do not have policies in place that recognise this or offer tangible support.
According to a study from Bupa and the CIPD, almost a million women have left the workplace due to menopausal symptoms and research from Bloody Good Period highlights that 89% of women have experienced anxiety or stress at work due to their period.
Despite a rise in public conversations surrounding women’s health in the workplace, on the ground, there still remains a very real stigma around discussing reproductive health in the workplace or implementing policies and procedures that positively impact women’s experiences in the workplace.
Now, The Women’s Organisation, the UK’s leading provider of business support for women, has launched a new project – Women’s Workplace Wellness – aimed at equipping SME employers with the tools to support women’s health in the workplace.
Offering expert-led guidance to employers
Informed by academic research, the government’s Women’s Health Strategy, and existing employment evidence from SMEs, the Women’s Workplace Wellness project will be expert-led, incorporating clinical and legal perspectives, to promote a social model of health support, encouraging employers to implement policy and best practices.
The first in a planned series of events took place on 29th March, in partnership with Morecrofts, introducing SME employers to the key issues women face in the workplace, as well as the responsibility of employers to treat women fairly from a health and wellbeing perspective. The core topics covered included pregnancy and maternity, flexible working, and menstrual leave. Watch the event highlight here.
The project will continue to build on this event, informing and educating SME employers across England to ensure they are providing the best support possible to female employees and maintaining an awareness of the issues they face.
Improving productivity and business performance
Making workplaces more equitable for all employees, but especially women, is a top priority for many SMEs with the benefits, both in terms of financial performance and company culture, speaking for themselves.
Breaking down the stigma surrounding women’s health has the potential to transform the way businesses operate, reducing absences and contributing to overall improved well-being and a positive shift in culture. Businesses that offer appropriate health support to female employees are more likely to see increased productivity, attract new talent, and see a higher rate of staff engagement and retention.
Taking steps in the right direction
Many employers are already demonstrating their commitments to the health and well-being of teams, people management, and employee engagement – and further increased investment in women’s health is now crucial to ensure that we reach a place of real equity.
The Women’s Workplace Wellness project is designed to help SME employers to achieve this goal and encourage other businesses to follow suit in implementing policies and procedures that protect and support women. Moving forwards, a wider uptake of this initiative will minimize health disparities and ensure that women’s health needs are listened to, understood, and prioritised.
Professor Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of The Women’s Organisation, said: “We know that there can be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to supporting the health and wellbeing of women in the workplace.
“Women have specific healthcare needs, compared to their male counterparts, and despite women making up over half of the workforce in the UK, most SMEs do not understand the scale of the support and flexibility required.
“This project is vital in effecting positive change within SMEs in the United Kingdom, helping to break down taboos around women’s reproductive health, delivering better outcomes for women’s equality, and – fundamentally – improving business performance as a direct result.”
We are looking forward to progressing this project over the coming months and working closely with partners across the UK to share good practices and embed awareness of women’s health needs within all SMEs.
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