Navigating Menopause in the Corporate World

In the realm of workplace discussions, one notable gap often remains – the subject of menopause. It is rarely a topic of open discussion in the workplace — despite the fact that nearly half of the world’s population has or will experience this biological transition, which marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle and fertility. Unveiling insights from a Society for Endocrinology study, we uncover a staggering statistic: one in four women grapple with significant menopausal symptoms.

Let’s illuminate this overlooked matter, strive to raise awareness, and extend the support it rightfully deserves. We talked to Aparna C, VP - Human Resources at Akna Medical Pvt Ltd. on this topic.

Navigating Menopause Amid Career Peaks

A critical juncture intersects with menopause, frequently coinciding with a pivotal career stage. This transformative phase typically unfolds between ages 45 and 55 – a period when women often ascend to corporate summits. As countless postmenopausal women assume managerial and top leadership roles, they simultaneously contend with an array of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe: sadness, anxiety, sleep disturbances, cognitive impairments, and more.

The Impact on Careers and Ambitions

Intriguingly, severe menopausal symptoms have been linked to decreased work motivation, prompting some to contemplate career changes, reduced hours, or even resignations.

“I have met and spoken to women where some of them have mentioned these symptoms -When my symptoms began, I was convinced that, at age 48, I had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Too afraid to discuss my difficulties with anyone at work, I made excuses for my forgetfulness and backed off from a career-enhancing role.

How could one take on a bigger challenge when I kept forgetting key details about my projects? When my physician diagnosed menopause, it was a relief and also a surprise.” It is interesting to note that not all of us have similar symptoms. said Aparna.

A recent analysis by Korn Ferry underscores the gender disparity at the C-suite level, with women comprising a mere 25%. Transparent discourse about the effects of menopause on individuals and organizations emerges as a crucial strategy to bolster the representation of women in leadership roles and harness their invaluable contributions to corporate success.

Fostering a Supportive Workplace Environment

Promoting Open Dialogue

Commencing the transformation requires a commitment to open communication. Especially for leaders navigating the challenges of menopause, normalizing these experiences is paramount.

“Based on my experience of understanding this better after talking to women in this age group, and also because I believe, it starts with talking. If you are a manager or leader going through menopause, try to normalize your challenges, so that other women can feel empowered to speak in the future. Just saying something like, “I’m going through menopause, and I keep forgetting things!” shows others this is something that is okay to talk about. Dialogue costs nothing, but reaps big rewards.” said Aparna.

Empowering through Education

Amidst prevailing misinformation, education emerges as a linchpin. Aparna also mentions that there’s a lot of mystery and misinformation about this life stage, and just gathering some basic facts from trusted medical sources is a good start. Whether you're experiencing menopause yourself or know someone who is, the importance of learning and obtaining accurate information cannot be overstated.

Through education, we not only gain insights into the physiological changes our bodies undergo but also acquire the tools to effectively manage any challenges that may arise.

Managerial Empathy and Well-being Advocacy

“Managers and leaders can work to bring this issue into the daylight by focusing on its connection to employee well-being — after all, menopause is one of the many health issues that can contribute to stress and burnout.”

Managers play a crucial role in bringing menopause to the forefront. Being a proactive leader means giving more breaks, extra time before meetings, and talking openly about things like flexible hours, working from home, and informative talks. This shows strong support in action.

“Through open communication and active leadership support, an organization can begin to realize benefits in productivity, work culture, and the bottom line, when menopausal transition is addressed as a specific, work-related concern.” - said Aparna.

A Journey to Acceptance: The Power of Shared Narratives

As we redefine the discourse surrounding menopause, both workplaces and individuals stand to reap the rewards – a more inclusive, empathetic, and productive professional landscape. By acknowledging menopause and fostering dialogue, we pave the way for a brighter, more equitable future for all.

Workplace menopause strategies: A blueprint

  • Symptoms at Work: Many women experience menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood shifts, which impact their productivity. Each manages these uniquely, including lifestyle changes or medication.

  • Facing Stigma: The fear of stigma or misinterpretation may deter women from discussing their menopausal status, hindering open dialogue and potential support.

  • Disclosure Decisions: Disclosing menopause status is personal. Reactions can range from supportive to dismissive, influenced by workplace culture.

  • Need for Discussion: The lack of open talk complicates managing menopause, fostering a silent and misunderstood environment around women's health.

  • Destigmatizing Efforts: Managers can destigmatize menopause by promoting its education, fostering open dialogue, and asserting its normalcy, possibly through resources and workshops.

  • Workplace Support: Accommodations can include flexible hours, cool break spaces, understanding for memory lapses, and medical appointment support.

  • Seeking Allyship: Hesitant women might find solace in trusted colleagues or HR. Menopause is a natural stage, not a failure.

  • Coworker's Role: Coworkers can aid by understanding menopause's challenges, practicing patience, and avoiding insensitive remarks.

  • Career Impact: Without understanding, menopause can hinder career progression due to symptom interference and potential bias.

  • Promoting Inclusivity: The workplace should normalize menopause, emphasizing employee education, support policies, and open dialogue, while valuing contributions regardless of age or health.

What can organizations do?

  • Awareness Initiatives: Similar to mental health awareness campaigns.

  • Workshops: Designed to educate employees about menopause.

  • Support Networks: A space for women to discuss and share.

  • Engage with Leadership: Ensure senior leaders are aware and supportive.

  • Mentorship Programs: Guidance for women uncertain about what to expect.

  • Corporate Policies: Aspirational at the moment, but organizations could consider instituting a menopause policy, akin to period leaves in some establishments.

Acknowledging menopause in workplaces is a stride towards inclusivity. Open dialogues, managerial empathy, and organizational policies can sculpt a more empathetic, understanding, and productive professional environment, ensuring a brighter future for all.


Acknowledging menopause in workplaces is a stride towards inclusivity. Open dialogues, managerial empathy, and organizational policies can sculpt a more empathetic, understanding, and productive professional environment, ensuring a brighter future for all.

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