Barbadian businesses are being urged to consider menopause and other biological conditions that affect women, when drafting worksite wellness policies.
The call came from General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Toni Moore, who Tuesday delivered an address at Solidarity House as part of the second day of the designated week of excellence geared toward improving public sector productivity.
Moore argued that these gender issues were still taboo within the workplace, and employers were reluctant to recognize the problems which women faced in the workplace as a result of menopause.
“Workplaces should meet, among other issues, the needs of menopausal women and the other biological issues which women face. Matters which still appear to be taboo in Barbados, yet they are issue which we in the Barbados Workers’ Union have had to deal with,” Moore said.
The BWU boss contended that trade union movements in first world countries were already pursuing this cause and Barbados ought to get on board if it were to achieve maximum efficiency from its workforce
While Moore did not cite any local or Caribbean figures or studies to drive home the need to address the issue with some level of urgency, she quoted a 2003 study from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the United Kingdom, which highlighted the struggles of female employees in the late stages of biological change.
The survey found that 45 per cent said managers did not recognize problems associated with menopause, while about one in three respondents reporting management criticism of menopause-related sick leave, as well as embarrassment or difficulties in discussing the menopause with their employers. One in five also spoke of criticism, ridicule and even harassment from their managers when the subject was broached, according to Moore.
It is for this reason she said the trade unions here had a role to play in challenging attitudes to menopause, ensuring that employers had procedures in place, and offering support to women who experience problems.
“Union representatives should ensure that the workplace meets the needs of menopausal women. Bear in mind that there may be specific requirements in your workplace, such as working at certain temperatures or adhering to a particular dress code, that make it even harder for women who are going through hot flashes and sweating as a result of menopause.
“We are living in the 21st century and we must make attempts to meet the needs of not just part of our workforce but the entire workforce,” contended Moore, who noted that the 24-hour economy allowed for initiatives such as flexible work schedules.