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A new study highlights a shocking workplace blindspot for menopause

While benefits addressing fertility struggles and post-partum depression are increasingly viewed as a vital way to attract and retain the best female talent, menopause-specific benefits lag behind.
Midsection of businesswoman with sweaty armpits holding fan against green background
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, menopause-age women account for 26 percent of the workforce. Paula Winkler / Getty Images

Each year, an estimated 1.3 million women in the U.S. – typically those in their early 50s and many at the height of their careers – go through menopause. Yet, it’s a subject we don’t talk nearly enough about, especially in the workplace.

A new study from Bank of America, in partnership with the National Menopause Foundation, found that most peri- and post-menopausal women believe menopause has negatively impacted their work life, yet only a small percentage believe their employers recognize the need for menopause-specific benefits.

The study, which surveyed 2,000 female workers and 500 benefits managers, also revealed that half of peri-menopausal women – 51 percent – believe menopause has negatively impacted their work life.

While fertility struggles and post-partum depression benefits are increasingly viewed not just as a nice-to-have perk, but a vital way to attract and retain the best female talent – menopause-specific benefits aren’t talked about as much.

“This is as segment of women who are stepping into their power,” Maggie McGrath, editor of ForbesWomen, told Mika Brzezinski on Thursday’s “Morning Joe.” “They are vibrant. They have ideas, experience and wisdom we that can draw on. [But we can’t afford to lose] them from the workplace because we’re not offering them flexible time off, flexible working hours… hormone replacement therapy.”

The primary reason employers said they don’t offer menopause-specific benefits is that employees have not asked for them. Employers who offer such benefits said the most popular benefits include access to menopause health professionals, time off or flexible work arrangements and hormone replacement coverage by health insurance plans. Still, just one in three women were aware of such benefits and only one in 10 said they use them.

“There’s a little bit of an ageism stigma,” said Brzezinski, but she noted that many women in their 50s, 60s 70s and beyond are stepping into their greatest power and making their strongest impact. “We just have to get the conversation going,” she added.

“I think we’re on the verge of great opportunity here,” said Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and vice chair of the 30/50 Summit. “I think it’s giving women the confidence to talk about what they need … Women in their 40s and 50s, Gen Xers…saying ‘This is what we need to have better support in the workplace.”

Abedin noted that in places like Britain, menopause-specific benefits are picking up steam. The British Parliament has held multiple hearings on the issue in recent years, and approximately three in 10 workplaces there have some kind of menopause policy in place. And in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams has said he is committed to creating “menopause-friendly workplaces” for city workers.

“This is ultimately about how to improve our economy,” said Abedin. I mean it’s better if we have more women in the workplace. We’ll be more effective and we’ll be a more successful capitalist economy. It works for everybody.”