Sophie, Countess of Wessex has spoken out about the “tragic” impact menopause is having on women in the workplace.
The royal, who is married to Prince Edward, is backing a new campaign by the Wellbeing of Women charity that calls on companies to ensure they are supporting employees through menopause.
Wellbeing of Women, which Sophie has been a patron of since May, is asking employers to sign its “Menopause Workplace Pledge” to help those struggling with symptoms of menopause.
“To think that women are having to leave the workplace because of this is tragic,” Sophie said during a virtual roundtable to launch the campaign on Monday 4 October.
“We are fabulous in our 40s, we are even more fabulous in our 50s, 60s and 70s and we need to celebrate that and keep those opportunities going for women.
“We cannot let anybody leave that workforce unfulfilled and also feeling that they have got to slope off into the shadows. It’s not right and we’ve got to be able to change that,” she said.
So far, Bupa, PwC, HarperCollins UK, Santander UK and Tesco have signed the pledge.
A 2019 survey, carried out by Bupa, estimated that almost 900,000 women in the UK have left their jobs over an undefined period of time because of symptoms associated with menopause.
Common symptoms include anxiety, brain fog, poor concentration, hot flushes, fatigue and irregular and heavy bleeding.
Wellbeing of Women said many women don’t disclose their menopause due to embarrassment, stigma, and the fear that they might be discriminated against or stigmatised by their colleagues.
Professor Dame Lesley Regan, chair of the charity, said menopause often coincides with the peak of women’s careers.
“In the UK, there are nearly five million women working aged between 45-60. The majority of these women will go through the menopause, which frequently coincides with the peak of their careers, a time when they are at their most successful and productive.
“It is encouraging that many employers can and are taking steps to support employees struggling in the workplace. We hope many more will sign our pledge to ensure no woman is left behind,” she said.
Sophie, who has been married to Edward since 1999, became a patron of Wellbeing of Women earlier this year with the aim to raise “hidden” women’s health issues and bring them “out into the open”.