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https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2022/05/16/breaking-the-menopause-taboo-in-the-civil-service/

Breaking the menopause taboo in the Civil Service 

Ministry of Justice Permanent Secretary Antonia Romeo

Antonia Romeo, Civil Service Gender Inclusion Champion, welcomes the new Civil Service Menopause in the Workplace Policy and explains what it means     

The Civil Service should be at the forefront of inclusivity, breaking down barriers and treating every one of our colleagues with respect and understanding.

The Menopause in the Workplace Policy plays a major part in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Women’s Health Strategy and represents a step forward in our support of affected colleagues. It will inform better understanding, strengthen conversations with managers and teams, provide guidance on the duty of care to support our people, and give advice on the use of relevant workplace adjustments. 

It’s vital that the public and private sector work together on this issue. As the Civil Service, we should expect to set the standard in our approach to inclusion, so it’s great that this policy adopts best practice from other leading bodies and organisations.

I am grateful to everyone who has played their part in helping us to reach this milestone. We would particularly like to congratulate the Cross-Government Menopause Network for the terrific groundwork they did in providing the initial guidelines for colleagues and for developing such a practical and helpful toolkit for managers.

Angela MacDonald, senior sponsor of the Cross Government Menopause Network and Second Permanent Secretary at HMRC, shares her personal experience of this all-too-often taboo subject. She encourages colleagues to share their own experiences and to join the Cross-Government Menopause Network. 

Angela Macdonald, HMRC Deputy CEO and Second Permanent Secretary
Angela MacDonald

It wasn’t that long ago that I struggled to talk openly about my own difficult menopause symptoms, and I expressed that journey in my recent article in Civil Service World. I outlined just how important it is to have meaningful conversations about the menopause and any barriers you might face at work as a result. 

I know from my many years in the Civil Service that it isn’t easy being a line manager at times. I certainly don’t expect line managers to be experts of every menopause symptom - after all, there are more than 30. Yet just being willing to find out more, listening carefully to how each colleague experiences the menopause, and helping to look for ways to provide support can go such a long way. 

Thanks to all who have taken the time to review the policy and shared their insights and reflections. The policy is the result of years of work by colleagues to raise awareness of the menopause, and every person who has started a conversation in order to support a colleague with the menopause. 

A Modern Civil Service

A Modern Civil Service is one that’s inclusive and responsive to colleagues. It understands that women’s health, including the menopause, is a natural part of life but can, for some, create barriers in the workplace. Providing support and workplace adjustments where necessary means that colleagues can work to the best of their abilities through all phases of their lives.

How you can get involved 

◼︎Please take a look at the Menopause in the Workplace Policy on your intranet.

Image spelling 'Menopause'

◼︎Talk in your teams about how you might use this policy. 

◼︎You may have a menopause network in your organisation already, do join it if  helpful.

◼︎Where there is no established network, the Cross-Government Menopause Network Chair Debbie Hayman can put you in touch with another department’s network in your region. 

If you want help setting up a network or advice about raising awareness of the menopause in your organisation, then contact the Cross Government Menopause Network: crossgovernmentmenopausenetwork@hmrc.gov.uk.

Do contact the network with your thoughts and examples of best practice and to share your stories. Antonia and Angela look forward to hearing what works!

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6 comments

  1. Comment by James posted on

    Great this is now being talked about in terms of support for those going through this life-changing period in their life. Maybe include sign-posting to those close family members who are experiencing Menopause symptoms via their Partner, Parent etc. that their own health can be supported via the Wellbeing networks currently in place. Like with any life event it is sometimes those who are offering that daily support who can often be forgotten or assumed to be coping.

  2. Comment by Salma Khan posted on

    Really glad that there is much more awareness of Menopause issues. Unfortunately there are so many issues - and can affect you in many different ways, like I have experience of this.

  3. Comment by Mary McLaughlan posted on

    Grace - I totally understand your comments, let's hope this new policy reassures many others to know they're not alone.

  4. Comment by Louise Lewis posted on

    Big thanks to Angela for making this possible. We no longer have to suffer in silence. This has the potential to become ground breaking as we head towards Modern Civil Service.

  5. Comment by Grace Walker posted on

    I am so glad menopause issues are now being recognised in the civil service. I have felt such a failure due to the menopause. I felt it took the realisation of my career aspirations away and so glad that there is now widespread awareness.

    • Replies to Grace Walker>

      Comment by Tina posted on

      Grace I think you echo the sentiments of many.