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Let me start by taking you back to the late 1990’s to my early years in law and my first understanding of menopause.

It was simple…my experience was female colleagues who talked about menopause and could be visually seen sweating and having hot flushes at their desks. Fans were on and survival technique was to pop out and buy chocolate at about 3pm just to get through the day. 

Was anyone being inspired to understand and value the experiences of these women in the workplace? No. 

Was anyone asking if there was anything that the firm could do to support them? No.

Were the individuals educated on the topic to know how to positively support themselves? No.

Women just ‘got on with it’ and we could reflect on the term ‘suffered in silence’. If they couldn’t ‘get on with it’, they left because they didn’t feel they were the right person for the job. They didn’t consider that their unmanaged and unsupported menopause was making them feel this way.

I will never forget a lady I met back in 2019. She shared with me how she quit her job due to her menopause. She never explained why she decided to leave, simply through fear of judgement. By this point, she had worked for years and years to get to the very top of her career.  I looked into her eyes and I could see she was still heartbroken to have felt that she had no other choice but to make that decision. 

What do I see now?

I see law firms that are inspiring inclusion. I see law firms who are starting to understand that wellbeing has moved in a different direction and if they want to retain their amazing staff they need to understand and value them.

I see positive steps forward following manager awareness sessions where employees feel they can ask for support and managers are confident to provide it. This does not mean that managers are expected to have the answers, but they now have the tools to have an approachable and confident conversation, which is often all that is needed. 

In my experience, during the late 1990s, a female secretary would not have approached many senior male partners with the confidence to have such a conversation. This is nothing against the male partner. Neither party knew how to start this conversation or how to feel comfortable doing so. 

Now we can. 

So, let’s keep up the momentum of this topic. So many firms are doing such great work to educate, understand, support and value their staff.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank all the inspirational men throughout law who want to support this topic in their workplace and at home.

To all the individuals personally experiencing any stage of menopause; please educate yourselves on this topic, speak to friends, family and colleagues to gain a greater understanding and support. Finally, keep fighting your own corner until you get the support you need.