Supporting Employees Through Menopause: An Interview With Co-op

In an exclusive interview, CEO Today speaks with Claire Costello, Interim Chief People Officer and Chief Procurement Officer at the Co-op, about the company’s commitment to supporting its employees through menopause.

For those who don’t know, could you please explain what the Menopause Workplace Pledge is?

 The Menopause Workplace Pledge is a pledge run by ‘Wellbeing of Women’ that employers can sign up to show they are committed to recognising that menopause can be an issue in the workplace and that women need support. By signing up you are showing that as an employer you encourage open, positive and respectful conversations about menopause and are serious about actively supporting those colleagues affected by menopause. Many UK employers have signed the pledge and Co-op is proud to be one of them.

In your opinion, why is there still such a big stigma around women’s health in the workplace?

Talking about issues like menopause, menstruation, cervical health and other issues that affect women have historically been seen as taboo topics in the workplace. Women have been separating their health from their work for many years and to some extent have been expected to carry on and get on with it at work. Talking about issues like this isn’t easy and can be uncomfortable but it’s important because we don’t leave our health issues and concerns at home when we come to work. Employers are catching up and realising that for us to create truly inclusive cultures at work we need to consider all aspects of health and wellbeing and this includes traditionally taboo topics.

Co-op research found that over half (52%) of managers in the UK don’t feel confident in supporting a colleague who is or has experienced perimenopause or menopause. How do you hope the Menopause Workplace Pledge will change this?

 We hope that the Menopause Workplace pledge will encourage more and more employers to recognise menopause as a legitimate issue to discuss in the workplace and raise awareness for everyone including managers. In turn with increased awareness comes confidence and we hope that more and more managers will feel confident in discussing menopause with their teams and providing support where they can. Here at Co-op, we have a guide for managers to help them support colleagues who come to them and ask for help.

How else is Co-op supporting its female and non-binary employees?

 We have a clear commitment to inclusion here at Co-op and offer support to our female and non-binary colleagues. We have several supportive policies including our inclusion and diversity policy, transgender and non-binary support policy, domestic abuse and pregnancy loss to name a few. There are also a number of ways in which our colleagues can access support through our colleague networks and through our wellbeing offer.

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