Why Yorkshire businesses must do more to support women going through the menopause
Heather Jackson, co-founder of GenM, which works with businesses to help them understand the menopause market in a responsible, ethical way, told The Yorkshire Post that there was a north/south divide when it comes to talking about the menopause.
“The menopause is a very southern, white issue at this moment in time,” she said. “Women up here haven’t had time to think about menopause – we’re just getting on and doing.
“We need to activate much more in the north. If you go down south, everyone is talking about perimenopause and menopause.”
GenM was founded last October, initially to provide a one-stop website for anyone affected by the menopause. But Ms Jackson and her business partner, Sam Simister, soon realised that there was another issue that needed to be addressed.
“There are 48 symptoms of menopause but no-one can do anything until we start recognising what those 48 symptoms are,” Ms Jackson said.
“We realised that brands are so far behind the understanding of menopause that there was a much bigger issue that needed to be addressed.”
The pair decided to work with businesses to show them how they could tap into the menopause market.
“We’re not trying to get companies to flog products to women for the sake of it,” said Ms Jackson. “Eighty eight per cent of women in our research report said they wanted better signposting.
“It isn’t just about products that can be developed. It’s about retaining the trust from that audience of women.”
GenM also works with businesses to support menopausal women in the workplace.
Ms Jackson, who has spent over a decade focusing on gender imbalances in the workplace as the founder and chair of An Inspirational Journey, said: “We can’t now have all these women at the peaks of their careers be knocked over by the menopause. It’s unfair and we deserve better. We owe it to ourselves to understand it better.”
So far, GenM has worked with over 40 big names, its founding partners, including M&S, Next, Boots and Leeds-based Clipper Logistics, to change their policies on menopause.
The brands have all signed the GenM Menopause Pledge, committing to understanding and delivering the awareness of the menopause.
GenM has committed to running three national awareness campaigns a year with the brands. The businesses also receive a founding partner badge showing their intent to change is there.
They also receive access to GenM’s annual Invisibility Report on the menopause.
Change is already visible. Boots updated its website to create a new menopause section with more articles and improved signposting to products and support.
GenM is also working with hotels to provide targeted menopause packs and offer different bedding options, including chilled pillows at night.
“It’s showing women that they’re being thought about right now,” she said. “They are also looking at offering menopause-specific spa treatments. Menopause doesn’t just impact at home or at work, it’s when you’re travelling and on holiday.”
Ms Jackson has ambitious plans to work with 150 global businesses next year and also launch a menopause awards event to promote companies with great products, campaigns and policies.
She said: “Menopause isn’t just an issue in the UK.
“One billion women will be in the menopause by 2025. This is an audience we can’t afford to lose.
“We need better collaboration. We’re looking at menopause aisles in shops and better internal and external communication.”