Home' HR Monthly : March 2015 Contents FEATURE: AGEING WORKFORCE
Impact of ageism
However, there may well be a correlation between
menopause and age discrimination. The Women,
Work and the Menopause study found that women
fear talking about menopause at work because it may
be regarded as a sign of ageing.
"The fear of that, more than the negative impact of
particular symptoms, seems to be at work," says Jack.
Age discrimination is known to have negative
impacts on society and be particularly bad for
business. A 2012 report by Deloitte Access
Economics, commissioned by the Australian
Human Rights Commission (AHRC), found that
an additional 5 per cent of workplace participation
among people aged 55 and over would result in a $48
billion boost to G D P.
The underemployment rate for women aged 45
and over is 6.5 per cent compared to 4.7 per cent
for men of the same age, and 68 per cent of all age
discrimination complaints to the AHRC centre on
This is at a time when the average age of Australian
workers is increasing and the federal government is
talking about raising the pension age to 70 by 2035.
"Despite the fact that we have an age discrimination
act, some employers say, 'Look, I think you're getting
a bit old - time for you to move on, ,,, says Age
Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan. "Usually
they're a bit smarter and don't put it like that, but it still
SOME EMPLOYERS DON'T KNOW THAT
IT'S UNLAWFUL TO PUSH PEOPLE
OUT ON THE BASIS OF AGE."
AGE DISCRIMINATION COMMISSIONER
30 HAVI hrmonline.com.au
FROM THE WOMEN,
WORK AND THE
1. Tne more severe the
menopausal symptoms, the
less engaged and satisfied
women feel at work, and
the greater their intention
2. There may be a correlation
and age discrimination.
Women fear talking about
menopause at work as it
may be regarded as a sign
3. Myths surrounding
menopause make it a subject
many managers avoid.
4. Formal and informal
workplace support is lacking
for women with symptoms
5. The study recommends
to be more aware of
material to counter the
myths, and making
menopause part of the
broader workplace health
and wellbeing agenda.
happens. It shows that some employers don't know that
it's unlawful to push people out on the basis of age."
Obviously, older employees bring the benefits of
experience, knowledge and maturity to the workplace.
Furthermore, many women who have stayed at
home to raise children experience a career burst
when their parental commitments are reduced. And
yet research shows that too few organisations have
strategies to specifically retain, develop and promote
women during these years.
Organisations with a commitment to diversity
inclusion policies should embed menopause support in
their strategy, says Jack.
"There's the question of how can we make sure
women are working for longer in careers they want
to pursue," he says. "We find that, because the
immediate working environment and organisational
context is a critical issue, that's the thing businesses
and organisations need to be focusing on. In other
words, there needs to be some work done to make
sure the immediate work environment is supportive of
women who are going through menopause."
Women, Work and the Menopause recommends
training managers to be more aware of menopause,
generating material to counter the myths, and making
menopause part of the broader workplace health and
At the most practical level, it recommends policies
for adequate, moderated office heating and cooling,
and making desk fans easily available, for effective
management of body temperatures.
Ryan says support is an entitlement for women
experiencing menopausal symptoms. "Any employee
suffering a period of ill-health or difficulty is entitled
to sick leave and counselling, and to request some
flexibility if they need to see their doctor. They are
basic workplace conditions people should be able to
expect. Particularly women experiencing difficulties
with menopause, who are in the same position as
people experiencing other health-related difficulties."
Tackling all these matters begins, of course, with
being able to talk about them. "One of the biggest
things we can do with anything taboo is talk about
it," says Coventry. "Anything that is taboo needs to
be made public." ...
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