Why senior leaders are the key to effective workplace menopause support

Some hospitality businesses are leading the way, says Moira Laird. But more can be done

Credit: Valor Hospitality

In the constantly evolving landscape of the hospitality world, it is crucial for companies to adapt and provide support to their employees through various stages of life.

With the recent marking of World Menopause Day on 18 October, many industries came together in a bid to actively destigmatise menopause within our workplaces, emphasising the huge importance of inclusivity and understanding for women experiencing this natural phase.

Time for real change

While strides have been made in the UK to raise awareness around menopause, there remains a need for greater corporate action. Research carried out by the CIPD revealed that a significant percentage of women aged 45 to 55 feel that menopause symptoms negatively affect their work and performance. This underscores the importance of employers implementing effective strategies to support menopausal women as part of a broader wellbeing initiative.

It’s more important than ever that the hospitality industry takes proactive steps towards shining a light on menopause awareness – especially when you consider new statistics, which show that more than one third of hospitality workers are over the age of 50. Key to this progress is first acknowledging the importance of the work being done by valued female team members who find themselves either in the middle of this phase, or beginning the transition.

At Valor Hospitality, we are proud to have introduced our first comprehensive menopause policy earlier this year, with the hope that it will act as a blueprint for others within the industry. The policy aims to offer a huge amount of support to team members experiencing menopause and perimenopause, ensuring their comfort and professional growth remains paramount. Accompanying the policy is a series of informative training sessions, each focusing on various aspects of menopause, including effective communication strategies and personalised wellbeing plans for individuals who wish to benefit from them. 

It’s my hope that through a blend of insightful education and open conversations, women in leadership roles within our industry can lead the charge when it comes to dismantling the stigmas surrounding menopause in the workplace. By simply recognising menopause as a natural phase of life, the hospitality industry can begin to foster an environment in which open discussions and admissions around this topic are encouraged and respected. 

I also believe that hospitality could benefit greatly from an increased presence of individuals at senior levels actively driving initiatives to destigmatise conversations surrounding menopause. This would, in turn, foster a stronger culture of inclusivity and belonging from the top down – one that recognises the diverse and valuable contributions of the female workforce, particularly menopausal women who constitute a substantial segment of our teams.

The need for closer collaboration

By collaborating closely with leadership teams and women in various hospitality roles, our industry has a real opportunity to set the standard when it comes to empowering and caring for individuals experiencing menopause, ensuring their continued confidence and success within the workplace.

The sector has already witnessed the positive impact of initiating candid discussions and building a supportive community where experiences and stories are shared openly – but this can only take real effect when senior decision makers are involving themselves in the conversation and making time to listen to the very real challenges and prejudices menopausal women are facing daily within the workplace. 

Acknowledging the wealth of experience and skills that menopausal individuals bring to the workforce is key to any organisation's continued success. Thankfully, the hospitality sector is working hard to understand and support the wellbeing of menopausal team members to ensure continued dedication and valuable inputs. This is something that we pride ourselves on at Valor – but we also recognise that our team, and the industry as a whole, can always be doing and learning more. 

The work continues

While many are making extremely positive strides in destigmatising conversations around menopause in the workplace, the most essential element to driving positive change will be the active involvement at a senior leadership level throughout the entire industry.

I am proud to be modelling a culture of inclusivity and respect for menopausal women, from the top down. Hopefully, this type of modelling throughout the hospitality industry will start to create a real shift when it comes to the compassion, care and respect shown to our valued menopausal workforce members. 

Moira Laird is HR director for UK and Europe at Valor Hospitality