BofA report finds 64% of women want menopause-specific benefits
Bank of America published Break Through the Stigma: Menopause in the Workplace(PDF), a new report revealing half of peri- and post-menopausal women (51%) report menopause has negatively impacted their work life, yet only 14% believe their employers recognize the need for menopause-specific benefits. The under-recognized need for menopause-specific benefits comes as 20% of the workforce is in some phase of menopause transition 1 and the number of post-menopausal women is expected to reach 1.1 billion by 2025 globally.
“Right now, there are millions of women suffering in silence – trying to simultaneously manage menopause symptoms, stigma and their careers,” said Lorna Sabbia, Head of Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions at Bank of America. “With this report, we are addressing the issue head-on by bringing awareness to the challenges and identifying actions for employers. Our goal is to help women of all life stages comfortably and confidently bring their best selves to work.”
The report, which surveyed 2,000 female workers and 500 benefit managers on menopause and its impacts in the workplace, uncovered there is room for employers to better support women in this life stage. The report was developed in partnership with the National Menopause Foundation, a foundation committed to providing women with the information and resources they need to thrive during their journey to and through menopause.
Disconnects Between Employers and Female Employees
While 76% of HR benefit managers say they discuss menopause with their employees, only 3% of peri- and post-employees say they have talked about menopause with HR, revealing a significant disconnect between the two groups. In addition, while 71% of employers have a positive perception of their company’s culture toward menopause, only 32% of women employees share that same perspective.
The number one reason employers say they do not offer menopause-specific benefits is that employees have not asked for them. Among employers who say they offer menopause-specific benefits, top benefits include access to menopause health professionals (40%), menopause policies such as time off or flexible work arrangements (38%), and hormone replacement therapy coverage by health insurance plans (38%). However, less than 1-in-3 women are aware of available benefits and only 1-in-10 use them.
When it comes to addressing the impact of menopause on the workplace, employers see the responsibility equally split between employees (49%) and employers (51%). However, female employees see the responsibility to be more on themselves (70% vs. 30%).
Menopause-Specific Benefits Create Better Workplaces
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of women want menopause-specific benefits. In fact, when benefits are offered, 58% of women report they have had a positive impact on their work, mostly by allowing them to bring their best selves to work (40%). Female employees are also likely to feel more comfortable talking about menopause in the workplace when they have access to menopause-specific benefits.
Additional support from employers can impact female employees’ overall perception of the workplace. Employees feel more inclined to recommend their employer as a great place to work when menopause-specific benefits are available (83% vs. 69%), revealing an opportunity for employers.
“Menopause is a normal life stage in women’s lives, yet there is still a need and opportunity for workplaces to enhance their menopause policies and benefits,” said Claire Gill, founder of National Menopause Foundation. “We hope this research will inspire employers to create cultures that reduce stigma and foster better communication.”
Impact of Menopause
Top symptoms peri- and post-menopausal employees report experiencing include impacts to their sleep (45%), mental health/mood (30%), physical health (20%), relationships with family/partner (20%), ability to focus on work (17%), daily activities (15%) and even career progression (9%).
Despite millions of employees experiencing menopause each year, stigmas around the topic persist. The majority of women (60%) consider menopause to be stigmatized, with 58% of peri- and post-menopausal women reporting they don’t feel comfortable discussing their menopausal symptoms at work. Most women (80%) consider the topic to be too personal to discuss, but other concerns include:
- 32% fear being perceived as old.
- 28% are embarrassed to talk about their body.
- 23% do not want peers to treat them differently.
- 18% fear not being respected by male peers.
More findings, including actionable steps for employers, are available in the Bank of America Break Through the Stigma: Menopause in the Workplace (PDF) report.
Break Through the Stigma: Menopause in the Workplace Methodology
These are the findings of two polls conducted by Ipsos between February 21 and March 8, 2023. The first was conducted among a sample of 500 human resource benefit decision makers from companies that have at least 1,000 employees. No post-hoc weights were applied to the data and findings reflect the opinion of these respondents. The second was conducted among 2,000 women ages 40-65 that are employed full-time at a company with 1,000 or more employees and have had a menstrual cycle. Both surveys were conducted online in English in the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. Results among human resource benefit decision makers have a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.4 percentage points for all respondents. Results among employed women have a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points for all respondents. Survey content was developed by Ipsos in consultation with the Bank of America team. Bank of America, Merrill, their affiliates, and advisors are not affiliated with Ipsos.
National Menopause Foundation
The National Menopause Foundation (NMF) was founded in 2019 by women and for women to create an informed community where women can learn, exchange information, find support and be inspired as they approach and journey through menopause.
Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 68 million consumer and small business clients with approximately 3,900 retail financial centers, approximately 15,000 ATMs and award-winning digital banking with approximately 56 million verified digital users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business households through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations across the United States, its territories and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
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