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Menopause: Spotlight on a Workplace Exodus

Menopause: Spotlight on a Workplace Exodus

4 minute read

The US and UK are well ahead of employers in Australia in recognising a key workplace trend. Women are resigning, reducing or refusing not because they don’t have the cred, but because their menopause symptoms make life too difficult.

Recent studies show that women are more willing than ever to leave unsupportive workplaces. With so few women in leadership roles and equality at the top of the agenda for many industries, it’s time to consider what drives women to flourish at work. And, importantly, what causes them to turn away.

2022 Women in the Workplace Report

Findings from the 2022 Women in the Workplace report are telling. According to the report, women are demanding more from work, and they’re willing to leave their companies to get it. Female leaders are switching jobs at far higher rates than men. This mass defection could have serious implications for companies. Women are already significantly underrepresented in leadership. For every 100 men who are promoted from entry-level roles to manager positions, only 87 women are promoted, and only 82 women of colour.1

Addressing the intersection

Women of colour were even more likely to experience belittling microaggressions, such as having their judgment questioned or being mistaken for a junior employee. Moreover, their additional work to support employee well-being and foster inclusion often goes unrewarded. The report concluded:

“If companies don’t take action, they risk losing not only their current women leaders but also the next generation of women leaders. Young women are even more ambitious and place a higher premium on working in an equitable, supportive, and inclusive workplace. They’re watching senior women leave for better opportunities, and they’re prepared to do the same.” 2

Menopause and women in management

For women in mid-life, many of whom are at their most experienced, with the most to offer, one of the main factors driving them out of the workplace is menopause.

A staggering 26% of women either have their hours reduced or are refused a promotion due to the impact of menopause symptoms, and 10% ultimately leave the workforce.3 We know that this can be a difficult time for women, but it’s easy to underestimate the cost to employers and the rest of the workforce. Up to 40% more leave4 is taken by those experiencing symptoms, and the cost of replacing employees sits at 150% of original salaries.3 Recent figures estimated that the annual cost of menopause in Australia is as much as $112,200,000,000.5

Moving forward

The first step in supporting women in the workplace is education and compassion. Developing menopause awareness and offering menopause training can benefit both the individual and the organisation. Workplaces should also ensure that instituting diversity and inclusion doesn’t fall to women alone, and that aggression is managed by laying a foundation of education. Flexible work is also a key factor, and ensures women are supported through motherhood, menopause and beyond the workplace. Some workplaces, like ModiBodi and Future Super have recently introduced paid menstruation, menopause and miscarriage leave to support female employees. 

It’s becoming clear that women are seeking more than just employment; they are seeking environments that nourish their growth and value their contributions. The findings of the 2022 Women in the Workplace report is a call to action for companies that cannot afford to overlook the shifting currents. As women leaders exit in search of environments that align with their values, the implications loom large. The scarcity of women in leadership positions already casts a shadow, and prioritising inclusion is more imperative than ever.

Metluma provides evidence-based health and wellbeing support for women at all stages of life. Learn how to live longer, be healthier, and optimise your health during menopause.


  1. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/women-in-the-workplace
  2. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/women-in-the-workplace
  3. Kopenhager, T. and F. Guidozzi. Working women and the menopause. 2015; 18(3): p. 372-5. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2015.1020483. Epub 2015 Apr 1.
  4. https://aimwa.com/workplaceconversations/people-culture/human-resources/why-supporting-menopause-in-the-workplace-matters/
  5. https://www.aist.asn.au/Media-and-News/News/2023/Media-Release-AIST-renews-call-to-measure-menopaus#:~:text=The%20Australian%20Institute%20of%20Superannuation,impact%20on%20women’s%20retirement%20incomes..