At 37, she was thrown into menopause and experienced a hellish working life
- Dawn Coker urges other local businesses to consider a menopause policy
- Workplace culture needs to change – talking is key.
On World Menopause Day, the CEO of a Wirral-based business is sharing her awful experiences of menopause in the workplace, after she entered menopause at the age of 37.
Dawn Coker, CEO of Access2Funding in Birkenhead, was thrust into early menopause after being diagnosed with endometriosis and having both her ovaries removed to tackle the pain. Returning to work whilst experiencing symptoms including memory loss, hot flushes and excessive sweating meant Dawn was exhausted both physically and mentally, with no one to talk to.
She said: “Talking about the menopause was unheard of in the workplace; it wasn’t something anyone wanted to talk about, so I felt I had no option but to put on a brave face. Even today there is still little understanding of the menopause in the workplace, how it affects women and the support that they genuinely need.
“My hair would often be plastered to my head with perspiration during meetings and I’d have to layer my clothing so I could cool down when my symptoms kicked in. This was so embarrassing and made my working life difficult.”
Dawn left two businesses whilst going through menopause due to a lack of understanding from her peers, and it was in 2014 when she worked for the housing sector that she finally felt she could be honest and open. She worked with the HR team to roll out support to menopausal women, which now continues in her current workplace, Access2Funding, following the introduction of a menopause policy earlier this year.
“Introducing a menopause policy is a way to open up the conversation and allow colleagues to comfortably talk about the menopause. It’s not just females it benefits; it can help male colleagues understand what their co-workers are going through, as well as what their partners, wives, mums or friends are experiencing, too. Our policy has been extremely well-received, but I feel there is still a long way to go for all businesses to achieve a positive menopause in the workplace culture, and I encourage other local SMEs to consider introducing a menopause policy to tackle this.”
Dawn has written a blog post offering advice for women approaching their managers about menopause, which can be read here and Access2Funding recently donated £500 to menopause charity Pausitivity, ahead of World Menopause Day