Almost a quarter (22%) of those working in financial services have said there are no measures in their workplace to support women senior leaders going through the menopause.
The professional membership body and registered charity the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) undertook the survey*, which attracted 332 respondents from across the world including UK, Europe, Asia and Africa. Those who responded reflected sectors of financial services including wealth management, operations, compliance, financial planning, capital markets, asset management, corporate finance, risk and Islamic finance.
The CISI asked: “A recent report on menopause in the workplace showed that financial services firms are losing women from their pipeline of senior leaders because of a lack of workplace support for those women going through the menopause. Do you believe this has been an issue for your firm?”, with a further question on the type of measures, if any, respondents had in their firms.
Of those who responded, 44% said they felt that lack of workplace support for women going through the menopause was an issue, compared with 46% who didn’t believe it was an issue for them in their firm, with 10% remaining neutral in their response.
In terms of measures put in place to counter this lack of workplace support for menopausal senior women leaders, 15% had flexible working schedules in place, 11% had a policy, 10% had internal training for all staff or manager training, with 8% having paid leave of absence. Only 6% of firms had a menopause private medical employee benefit, with 1% having access to support via an app.
Many respondents shared their thoughts on the topic. Some felt ageism and gender discrimination was a factor for firms not engaging: “This is just another way to justify discrimination against women. Sure, some will need additional support, but we don't need to be patronised and written off just because we are in our 40s/50s. – UK/Europe, Risk” and “on the outside it looks like it is in place but feel the culture can be ageist. – UK/Europe, Operations.”
Some felt that the stigma around the menopause was a factor for financial services firms’ lack of engagement: “Although we haven't lost any staff due to lack of support, I think it’s more to do with those of us affected by the issue have been here sometime and not really expecting support. This is still an issue for women themselves as we're only just coming out of the taboo stage and realising there is help out there. - UK/Europe, Operations.” And “Since I have just been through peri menopause and then menopause, I can safely say it’s one of the hardest and least addressed phases of a woman's life. They have been suffering silently and seems like I just did the same. – Asia, Wealth management
Other respondents raised the issue of lack of leadership within firms: “Minimum cost was spent on this. A training course was rolled out to all staff on a different topic and the trainers were asked to cover menopause briefly. All training courses were done as a window dressing to meet compliance requirements. No other provisions were made in the workplace. My personal opinion is the CEO is too young and too much profit driven (bonus)in an environment that is much dominated by a male workforce. My previous CEO said: “this is a financial service industry and stress, and pay is part of the deal”. No empathy and emotional intelligence exist in leadership.” – UK/Europe
Tracy Vegro OBE CISI Chief Executive (right) said: “This is our first ever sector survey looking at this fundamental aspect of women’s health. Financial services firms are at differing stages of their policy formation on this issue. Lack of knowledge, need for greater awareness and ways to tackle the perceived stigma around the menopause are all key challenges. At CISI we have put in place a programme of CPD learning, including digital and in person events, which is being developed further for our global membership.”
Claire Tunley, Financial Services Skills Commission, Chief Executive said: ““The financial services sector is facing a huge skills shortage. Firms are working hard to
break the menopause taboo and support colleagues through their menopause transition but there is more work to do. Generating greater awareness, understanding, and building a more inclusive working culture, will empower individuals and help retain valuable, expertise and talent. This will ensure the industry continues to build skills, drive innovation, and boost overall competitiveness.”
*The CISI survey received 332 responses and was undertaken from 9 June-14 November 2022.
RESPONDENTS’ ANONYMOUS COMMENTS
- Although we haven't lost any staff due to lack of support, I think it’s more to do with those of us affected by the issue have been here sometime and not really expecting support.This is still and issue for women themselves as we're only just coming out of the taboo stage and realising there is help out there. – UK/Europe, Operations
- Most institutions are oblivious to the challenges that come with menopause. – Africa, Risk
- There is no consideration for women going through menopause. It is Business as usual. – Africa
- Does this really require separate consideration surely anything which impacts on a person’s ability to work requires consideration. illness, cancer, menopause, mental illness etc. What should not be forgotten is that it is not necessarily the employer’s responsibility to bear all the impact and cost or indeed consequences of a failing NHS which means that a number of conditions are more severe or last longer than should have been the case. The smaller the business the greater the impact if any one person is incapacitated for whatever reason. – UK/Europe, Financial Planning
- I think people still don’t understand the impacts on those suffering with extreme symptoms – UK/Europe, Operations
- We have appointed a menopause champion. We pay for employees, or partners of employees to have a paid for BUPA session with a menopause specialist so they can get a tailored menopause plan. – UK/Europe, Wealth Management
- There is a lot of work to raise awareness. I had to raise with my firm as part of staff engagement and they were shocked by the statistics. UK/Europe, Asset Management
- We have a young team, so menopause is out of our reach for now. Africa, Wealth Management
- Every woman's menopause journey is different and will start at different times. I think the most significant effect created by menopause symptoms is a deterioration in confidence which leads to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Right at the start of this journey, women might also not be aware that they have started down this path and are feeling completely out of sorts. It is difficult to find a one-size-fits-all solution. Still, the medical world is becoming quicker to recognise the symptoms and companies are getting better at providing support. – UK/Europe
- It has never been mentioned at any point during my career.As a 52-year-old woman who went through early menopause it has always felt irrelevant at my place of work.All employees are offered an annual wellbeing assessment by HR, but this would be the closest thing to opening a discussion about the topic. - UK/Europe, Wealth Management
- We have a lot of support internally, but nothing that specifically mentions the menopause.It's not on people's radars. But my firm is supportive of those who need assistance whatever the difficulty. – UK/Europe, Compliance
- It’s still such a taboo in India...it's stressful and medically the body deteriorates. I wish I had some support. – Asia, Capital Markets
- I’m in an offshore jurisdiction and believe that it will be years behind UK legislative changes……we don’t even have pensions for all workers yet. - UK/Europe, Risk
- I believe this is not an issue for our company as we have so few senior leaders who are women. – UK/Europe, Asset Management
- Whereas a policy is in place the reality is that no actual change has occurred with real support, saying something is very different to actual doing. UK/Europe, Compliance
- More needs to be done about this. 50% of the population suffering is not fair or sustainable. UK/Europe, Compliance
- Leadership positions for women has no correlation with menopause in Nigerian Capital market. Therefore, setting up a measure may not be necessary. – Africa, Capital Markets
- Women tend to do lot of mistakes at work during menopause simply because the body is vulnerable in many ways. Hence, better to give leave and ask to compensate by working on a weekday if that brings gender equality. Asia