Santander applauded for industry-leading menopause awareness


A groundbreaking initiative by Santander to support female employees going through the menopause is being held up by the CWU as a blueprint that other employers could and should follow.

Commencing just days after radical plans to break the taboo of the menopause in the workplace were unveiled at the Labour Party Conference, Santander’s rollout of an industry-leading initiative to provide practical support and advice to the 25 per cent its female workforce that is of menopausal age began with a special awareness day at the massive former Girobank site in Bootle on September 23.

That was swiftly followed by the launch of a staff survey and a trial link-up with an external health advice provider that provides expert advice and a safe space for individuals to discuss their symptoms and concerns with a qualified menopause practitioner.

The rollout has gathered pace since then, with events planned at all of Santander’s major UK sites, with a particular focus of activity coinciding with World Menopause Day tomorrow (Friday October 18).

With the over-riding message of ‘let’s talk about the menopause’, the awareness campaign points out that three-in-four women experience distinct and sometimes profound menopausal symptoms in their late 40s or early 50s’ (51 being the average age at which it strikes) – and that for one-in-four those symptoms can be seriously debilitating.

Driving home the fact that the condition and its symptoms can be unpredictable – with one-in-100 women reaching menopause before the age of 40 – the awareness initiative is challenging head on the fact that, for a variety of reasons, the majority of women are unwilling to disclose menopause-related health problems to their line managers.

Commending the Bank for the concerted efforts it is making to end the stigma associated with the menopause in all its workplaces, as well as providing practical help and advice for women undergoing menopausal symptoms, CWU assistant secretary Sally Bridge said: “This is really good news, because it’s about breaking down barriers and bringing something into the open that affects every woman – as well as providing the practical support that those undergoing the menopause sometimes need.

“I’m particularly impressed with the way that Santander has recognised this isn’t just a female issue. Men need to understand it better – and not just for the sake of their female line reports, because this is important knowledge for their domestic lives as well.”

The initiative comes in the wake of policy announcements at the Labour Party Conference that would require large employers to offer flexible hours to women experiencing the menopause. In May this year a separate demand for the menopause to be recognised as an ‘occupational health issue’ by BT was carried unanimously at CWU Annual Conference.

Sally – who has just taken over the reins as national officer for Santander from John East, who is retiring – adds: “It was refreshing to be introduced to the industry-leading work that Santander is doing on menopause support and awareness at my very first formal meeting with the Bank – and I was pleased to be able to give the warmest of CWU welcomes to everything it is trying to achieve in this area.

“There’s no doubt whatsoever that Santander is in the vanguard of some progressive new thinking that recognises the menopause as something that needs to be given serious consideration in the workplace – and I hope other large employers swiftly follow suit.”

Santander UK Chief HR officer Vicky Wallis concludes: “Supporting the health and wellbeing of our colleagues is a key part of our people strategy.  We want to encourage an environment where all colleagues and line managers feel informed about the menopause and know what support is available.  We hope to break the perceived taboo around this hugely important topic.”