Women legal professionals team up to promote ‘menopause-friendly’ workplace

Initiative sees eight women from different firms share experiences and offer practical advice to employers

A group of women have launched an initiative to raise awareness about the impact of perimenopause and menopause in the legal sector and provide practical advice on how employers can create a more “menopause-friendly environment”.

Led by eight lawyers and legal business professionals, #menopausematters has published a guide which highlights their personal experiences alongside advice for employers.

Guidance in the booklet ‘Seven Things You Need to Know About Menopause in the Workplace’ ranges from simple adjustments that can be made – such as having regular breaks in long meetings – to more formal initiatives, including adapting absence management policies to accommodate menopause-related health issues without penalising the employee.

“We want to create a #menopausematters movement,” the group state. “By sharing the guide on social media, we hope many men and women will re-share it and take action by talking about it, forwarding it to their HR department or sending it to their DEI working groups or committees.”

Menopause and its precursor, perimenopause, represent significant physiological changes that can profoundly impact women’s working lives. The collective aims to shift the narrative from the medical aspects to the practical impacts of menopause at work thereby fostering a more inclusive and supportive working environment.

The genesis of this initiative can be traced back to a candid LinkedIn post by Lucie Allen, managing director at BARBRI Global, who shared her personal challenges of facing perimenopause. 

Subsequent discussions between other women in law underscored a pervasive issue: the workplace is often unprepared to support menopausal women despite their significant representation in the workforce. 

As Allen explained in a subsequent LinkedIn post, she, along with eight other women, came together in their personal capacities “to share more and to hatch a plan around how we can continue to raise awareness for those navigating the stages and symptoms of menopause and those wanting to be better informed”.

The other members of the group are Lucinda Case, head of legal professionals, Europe, Thomson Reuters; Sara Carnegie, director of the International Bar Association’s legal policy and research unit; Lisa James, founder and director, The Wentworth Collective; Kate Gaskell, CEO, Flex Legal; freelance lawyer Jane Clemetson; Silvia Van den Bruel, marketing and BD director, Hausfeld; and Helen Burness, founder, Saltmarsh Marketing and co-founder, Helen Squared.

Allen said: “Menopause is a natural part of life, yet it remains a taboo subject in many workplaces. Our guide seeks to break down these barriers and provide women and employers with the tools to navigate this transition with support.”

Conversations with numerous affected women in preparing the guide revealed a lack of support. The guide highlights a number of challenges, including an awareness gap about perimenopause and lack of communication within workplaces about the issue. 

Notably, these conversations revealed that some women in senior positions, otherwise integral to the operational success of their firms, felt compelled to step down due to inadequate support during menopause.

Van den Bruel added: “When we came together and shared our stories, there was a sense of relief – ‘I am not alone in this’. We aim to replicate that feeling more broadly while providing employers with the necessary resources to foster a supportive environment for women experiencing menopause.”

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