Research and reports
Nearly half of women business owners (45 per cent) believe the government should provide better support for women going through perimenopause and menopause. This information comes as part of a new study, which has also revealed that over a quarter (27 per cent) of women business owners have suffered a loss in their earnings as a result of going through menopause.
Over 900 women business owners answered the survey, revealing how perimenopause and menopause have impacted their business. Two in five (38 per cent) of women surveyed also explained how they’ve been forced to adapt or reduce their working hours – with 13 per cent of women having lost customers as a result of menopause.
Despite the government’s recent decision to reject efforts to make the menopause a protected characteristic, our survey found that 66 per cent of women business owners disagree with this decision.
Seven per cent of women say they’ve had to shut down their business entirely as a result of the challenges which accompany menopause – which highlights the need for further support for women workers everywhere.
The NHS’s advice for working with menopause is to:
Whilst menopause still isn’t protected under the Equality Act, change could be coming. This year saw The British Standards Institution (BSI), the national standards body of the United Kingdom, launch new guidance to help employers navigate menopause and menstruation in the workplace.
This new guidance aims to create better working environments for both the employee and employer – ultimately preventing those suffering from menopause from having to leave the workplace.
As an employer, you can help improve working conditions for your employees by following their examples of good practices surrounding policies, culture, and physical work.
Baroness Karren Brady CBE, Simply Business's Small Business Ambassador, believes there is more to be done to support business owners working to highlight the challenges facing small businesses across the UK.
Sharing her own thoughts on menopause support, she said: “No woman should feel they have no choice but to close their business because of their menopause symptoms. I’ve been quite lucky as my menopause journey has been milder compared to some, but I've suffered from hot flushes, lack of sleep, and occasional forgetfulness.
“My mother told me, ‘back in our day, we used to just get on with it’, but just because they used to get on with it, doesn’t mean we have to. Women are invaluable assets in any business at all ages and life stages – so it’s vital that we support women going through menopause and help them to flourish, not fail. We can do this by raising awareness of the symptoms and how they can be managed in the workplace, and by campaigning for real change.
Fifty one per cent of the population are going to go through the menopause – so the more we understand about it, the more empathy we have, and the more legislation we put in place, the more we can help women continue to thrive in business.”
But despite vocal support from influential businesswomen like Baroness Brady, some business owners have no choice but to close their businesses.
Leadership coach Lorraine Stamp shares her own experiences running a business with menopause: “I’ve struggled to understand the impact that the menopause has had on me and maybe some of it is down to denial too.
“I was finding I had so many headaches, backache, brain fog, a lower mood, and generally an overall feeling of fatigue. I didn’t have the energy I needed to put into my business.
“As a new business, I didn’t get any government support and had to use my life savings to keep the business afloat and maintain a home for myself and my daughter. With only one income, it was tough. Add the start of perimenopause into the mix and I was struggling.
“I pushed through every single day because I had no choice. This led to me experiencing burnout and I couldn’t work properly for about eight weeks. I decided to step away from my business and go back into employment whilst I navigate this total hormonal imbalance.
“It’s a sad decision as I’d put so much time and energy into my business – but I just didn’t have the focus and attention due to the hormonal impact."
Susanna Edwards, Founder and Director of The School of Creative Wellness also agrees that menopause adds an additional struggle for women business owners: “It is a well known fact that a high proportion of perimenopausal women have to drop their hours or leave employment due to the effects and symptoms of perimenopause.
“I personally had multiple pressures – caring for a parent, single mum to my daughter, and a high pressure job to manage all during lockdown. I had started to have symptoms of perimenopause during this period but I did not know what they were. There was no time or space for me to take care of myself. The demands made upon me from these multiple areas led to severe burnout and a breakdown.”
Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, commented: “At Simply Business we’re proud to support hundreds of thousands of women who own flourishing small businesses across the UK. But we’re equally passionate about shining a light on their challenges to drive positive change. Menopause has a significant impact on the lives of many women, and a lack of support is having a direct impact on those women who own small businesses.
“More than one in four say they’ve lost earnings as a result of going through the menopause and our research found that nearly half of women business owners believe the government should provide better support for women going through perimenopause and menopause.
“Accounting for over 99 per cent of all British businesses, 48 per cent of the British workforce, and contributing trillions of pounds a year in turnover, it’s imperative that we create the right conditions for our country’s small business owners to thrive.
“Our research paints a clear picture of the many unique challenges facing women business owners, and we’d urge the government to make supporting women small business owners – from startups to seasoned SMEs – a key priority, for the benefit of our economy and communities.”
But menopause isn't the only struggle that women business owners face. Simply Business has launched the Empowering Women in Business initiative to help women entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they are facing in business.
Have you or a colleague suffered from the effects of menopause at work? Let us know in the comments below.
Do you have experience with menopause in the workplace? Join the conversation in our Women in Business Facebook community group to share your thoughts on all the latest news surrounding women in business.
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Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business, specialising in legal and HR content. Trained at London College of Communication, she has been creating content professionally for eight years at publications across the UK and Spain. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world. Rosanna also writes about wellbeing in the workplace. She lives by the sea and does her best writing in coffee shops.
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