In a recent survey of 5,012 women, the firm found that 62% who experienced menopause symptoms said that this impacted them at work, with a similar percentage agreeing there should be more workplace support in such instances.
In conjunction with International Women's Day (8 March 2021), Vodafone announced in a statement a global commitment that will ensure its employees are supported during the menopause. This commitment will apply across all its markets (excluding joint ventures and associates) and forms part of the company's "broader strategy of supporting all employees through every life stage, to create a culture of inclusion."
This will include rolling out a training and awareness programme to all employees globally, including a toolkit focused on raising understanding of the menopause and providing guidance on how to support employees, colleagues and family members. Existing policies in local markets will also provide support including the ability to take leave for sickness and medical treatment, flexible working and care through Vodafone's Employee Assistance.
Leanne Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer at Vodafone, said: "Vodafone's global commitment on menopause underscores our drive for a more inclusive culture and our desire for women to see Vodafone as the place to be for their career through all stages of their life.
"With menopause impacting women for a significant period of their working life, it’s important to us that our environment supports and normalises these life stages by openly talking about and supporting menopause in the workplace."
This announcement falls in line with a new research published by Vodafone, conducted by Opinium, which surveyed 5,012 women in five countries who had experienced menopause while at work. Among the findings, the research highlighted the following:
- Nearly two-thirds of women (62%) who experienced menopause symptoms said that this impacted them at work, rising to four in five (79%) for 18- to 44-year-olds.
- One-third (33%) of those who had symptoms said they hid this at work, and 50% felt there is a stigma around talking about the menopause.
- 44% of women who experienced menopause symptoms said they have felt too embarrassed to ask for support in the workplace, rising to 66% of women aged 18 to 44.
- Two-thirds (66%) of women agreed there should be more workplace support for women going through menopause.
The research also found that menopause currently affects around 15% of Vodafone's 100,000 employees. To ensure that all employees feel comfortable seeking support, Vodafone's global commitment "will introduce a balance of support and assistance, training and awareness."
Vodafone's global programmes to increase D&I
According to the firm, its goal for women to hold 40% of management and leadership roles by 2030 is already reflected at the Board level, "demonstrating its senior commitment towards this ambition." Globally, women currently hold over 31% of Vodafone's management and leadership roles.
The statement noted: "To meet our ambition to be recognised as the world's best employer for women by 2025, Vodafone has developed and introduced a series of pioneering global programmes. These include progressive flexible working policies, maternity and parental leave that supports families to share caring responsibilities in the home, ReConnect to attract talented women back to the workplace and a Domestic Violence and Abuse policy.
- In March 2015, Vodafone pioneered a global maternity policy, offering women across Vodafone's markets and operations a minimum of 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave and a 30-hour week at full pay for the first six months after their return to work.
- Vodafone launched the ReConnect programme in 2017 to attract talented women who have left the workplace for several years - often to raise a family - who want to return to work but are struggling to make the professional connections needed or refresh the skills required.
- In 2019, Vodafone supported families with a new global parental leave policy offering 16 weeks fully paid leave to all employees, giving every parent the opportunity to have more time with children new to their family. Vodafone employees can phase their return from parental leave by working the equivalent of a 30-hour week at full pay for a further six months. Vodafone’s parental leave will be available to all non-birthing parents – regardless of their gender, sexual orientation or length of service – by the end of March 2021.
- In the same year, Vodafone launched the first global domestic Violence and Abuse policy, setting out a comprehensive range of workplace supports, security and other measures for employees at risk of, experiencing, and recovering from, domestic violence and abuse. Vodafone also made publicly available a toolkit on domestic violence and abuse at work, enabling line managers and colleagues to recognise, respond and support affected employees.
Photo / Provided by Vodafone