Standard Chartered takes a stance on menopause in the workplace to further strengthen Bank’s inclusive culture

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This approach is designed to enhance the company’s existing health and wellbeing policy for its 85,000-strong workforce in over 59 markets globally

Millicent Clarke, Regional Head of HR at Standard Chartered Africa and the Middle East (AME)

To create a more inclusive working environment, Standard Chartered announced the launch of its first-ever dedicated menopause guidance for the Bank’s employees, coinciding with World Menopause Day.  

The Bank announced it is taking a number of actions to make sure support and guidance around menopause is provided to all colleagues. This approach is designed to enhance the company’s existing health and wellbeing policy for its 85,000-strong workforce in over 59 markets globally.

Supporting employees across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, key changes include:  

  • A specialist guide for all employees, including dedicated advice for People Leaders, to help educate and increase awareness of the menopause.
  • Flexible working options that have been launched at-scale earlier this year provide a particular focus on how the Bank can support colleagues in the management of menopause symptoms.
  • Availability of menopause counselling through the Bank’s Employee Assistance Programme.
  • Peer-to-peer support facilitated through the internal Employee Resource Groups.
  • Additional uniforms available for front-line staff.
  • Access to private, cool and well-ventilated areas.

A report published by the Bank, Menopause in the Workplace: Impact on Women in Financial Services [1], in partnership with the Financial Services Skills Commission, reveals that women’s experiences of menopause impacts their confidence in performing their roles. Additionally, it points out that a lack of awareness and support from employers and colleagues to help manage these symptoms means that women are less keen to progress into more senior roles and may leave work altogether. The bespoke research fielded in the UK brings to the forefront the importance of talking openly, positively and respectfully about menopause to support women: a significant finding pertinent to the Bank’s entire female population.

Tanuj Kapilashrami, Group Head of Human Resources at Standard Chartered, comments: “There’s a culture of silence around the menopause in financial services, with many women taking it on themselves to absorb the impacts of their experiences. A lack of understanding and support is impacting female progression and at times leading to women opting out of the workforce altogether.

“We are proud to raise the awareness that’s needed to further create a more inclusive and supportive workplace for all employees. It’s time we shine a spotlight on the menopause; acknowledge we can talk about it openly and accept this directly impacts someone’s wellbeing and their career.”

Millicent Clarke, Regional Head of HR at Standard Chartered Africa and the Middle East (AME), said: “Organisations must normalise the conversation around menopause, break down barriers and foster inclusion in the workplace. If we want to continue to move the needle on women’s career progression, especially at C-suite level, the stigma around menopause must be addressed, and this starts with implementing practical guidance and being really supportive of women experiencing this phenomenon. At Standard Chartered, the wellbeing of our employees comes first, and we are proud to raise awareness and provide the necessary tools and resources to ensure all staff going through the menopause are properly supported.”

The report identifies initiatives that other organisations, not just in financial services, can also implement to address the barriers faced by women experiencing menopause, such as additional training, awareness raising activity and greater flexibility in working arrangements.

The announcement comes as Standard Chartered recently signed the UK Menopause Workplace Pledge [1] committing to acknowledging that menopause can be an issue in the workplace.  The Bank has a track record of publicly pledging to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture, including setting senior leadership diversity targets across UK and US [2] and becoming a signatory of The Valuable 500 [2], a global movement putting disability on the business leadership agenda. This work is recognised externally regularly, for example, lately Standard Chartered ranked for the first time as a World’s Best Employer in the Forbes 2021 list [3] and featured in the HERoes Women Role Model Lists 2021 for the fifth consecutive year running.

About the research:
To understand how the menopause transition affects women working in financial services, how this affects the pipeline of female talent, and how women experiencing menopause transition can be better supported, a mixed-methods study was conducted:

  • A survey of financial services sector employees in the UK was carried out from May 2021 to June 2021, resulting in 2,376 respondents from over 100 different organisations, of which 2,089 were women and 287 were men.
  • To understand how all employees could be better supported to address the menopause, seven focus groups and ten in-depth interviews with men and women were conducted. Focus groups were conducted along different strands of diversity (e.g. ethnicity, disability, LGBQ+) to capture any intersectional nuances that might exist to ensure recommendations addressed all needs.

About Standard Chartered:
We are a leading international banking group, with a presence in 59 of the world’s most dynamic markets, and serving clients in a further 85. Our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity, and our heritage and values are expressed in our brand promise, here for good. Standard Chartered PLC is listed on the London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges.