The business world has seen a surge in women-led businesses in recent years. The Rose Review, which first started charting the numbers of women in business in 2019, tells us that, in the UK:
- Over 150,000 new all-women led companies were founded in 2022 – more than ever before;
- 20.5% of new incorporations in 2022 were all-female led, up from 16% in 2018, all this despite the tough conditions of 2022;
- The biggest increase was among 16-25 year-old female founders, a rise of 24.3%.
The Rose Review highlighted that if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men, up to £250 billion of new value would be added to the UK economy. The review is worth a read as it covers areas affecting women-led businesses such as investment and growth, supply-chain disruption and the tightened funding landscape. The reason I have mentioned it here is that it highlights a current issue to consider and one that I believe will grow…
As the numbers of women in business increase, so will the potential impact of female health issues on the success of those businesses. I recently attended a conference about menopause in the workplace and heard a comment that went along the lines of “only when menstruation, pregnancy, fertility and menopause are done right will we have equality in the workplace”.
This struck a chord with me. Whilst this article is primarily related to menopause, the upcoming female entrepreneurs starting out as 15-16 year-olds will face all of these issues at some point, to a greater or lesser extent, as an individual and/or business owner. It is important that these issues are no longer swept under the carpet and considered to be “just something you have to get on with” but, rather, are addressed openly and actively as one would with any other issue which may have a profound effect on a business.
Menopause, with the other female health issues mentioned, is a natural phase in a women’s life and can bring about physical, emotional and psychological changes that may impact her ability to function and the profitability of her business. It’s therefore important to consider these issues and insights into how to address them.
The physical symptoms detailed in my earlier article may disrupt work routines and affect productivity. Managing stress levels may become increasingly difficult. It is important to prioritise self-care and seek appropriate medical advice to mitigate these changes. It is not always easy to get the appropriate medical assistance as not all GPs are trained or focussed on menopause. There are, however, a number of resources available, but they generally need seeking out. I’ve added some online resources at the end of the article to help you on your way.
The same is true of the emotional symptoms. Women may be able to seek out better and suitable resources to help themselves, but businesses could and should do more to help their leaders and staff to locate and utilise these resources. Maybe female-led businesses could and should be leading the way to highlighting these resources and normalising their use, as just about any reasonable employer would for other health issues.
The following are a few ideas:
- Open lines of communication – this can help a smoother transition;
- Implement menopause training for people managers;
- Promote education to increase awareness;
- If a company requires a uniform to be worn, consider the materials being used e.g., use natural fibres rather than manmade fibres;
- Utilise any existing employee assistance programmes and medical cover, seek to add cover if the existing programmes don’t have menopause assistance.
Tackling these and other related issues such as training; mentorship; hurdles to gaining respect and recognition; challenges around cognitive changes impacting marketing, personal and business promotion will only enhance the business world and the larger economy and that has to be “worth it” to all of us.