HSBC UK, first direct, M&S Bank

Congratulations to HSBC UK, first direct and M&S Bank, who were announced as the first employers in the UK to be awarded Menopause Friendly Accreditation. The accreditation recognises inclusive employers that build awareness and understanding around menopause and takes the wellbeing of their colleagues seriously.

Accreditation is determined by Menopause Friendly’s Independent Panel of recognised experts and thought leaders who are passionate about accelerating change in menopause in the workplace best practice.

Professor Jo Brewis at The Open University, Menopause Friendly Accreditation Independent Panel member and co-author of a government report on the effects of menopause on women’s economic participation, said: “While we’ve made an enormous amount of progress over the past few years, the topic of menopause is still quite taboo – and with that comes a lot of misunderstanding and stereotyping. Employers have an important role to play in supporting the issues and stages of the menopause, just like they have with other stages of women’s reproductive lives, like pregnancy and maternity, for decades. An inclusive workplace and colleague wellbeing are at the heart of menopause in the workplace support; in turn, benefits include increased productivity, lower absence levels, and fewer recruitment costs.”

Speaking on behalf of all the Independent Panel at a meeting with first direct, HSBC UK and M&S Bank leaders, and the organisations’ menopause champions, Independent Panel member, Suzanne Banks CBE said “We’ve thoroughly assessed all aspects of your application. It’s clear how much you’ve done to create a culture where it’s easy to talk about menopause. You’ve taken training and communication very seriously with some amazing initiatives taking menopause knowledge and awareness to all parts of your business. We think your approach to uniforms was superb. And in the environment too, including providing fans even to homeworkers who needed them. And training up your EAP provider.

“In fact, you have exceeded all of the exacting standards and, on behalf of the Menopause Friendly Independent Panel, I’m delighted to confirm that HSBC UK, first direct and M&S Bank are a menopause friendly employer.”

HSBC UK, first direct and M&S Bank’s started planning their campaign in March 2019. In 2019 they held their first menopause event, with both male and female senior managers sharing their experiences with menopause from an individual and work perspective. Since then, they’ve been:

  • Training 50 menopause Advocates and 75 Champions to help drive awareness and education. Made up of colleagues of all genders, menopause Advocates and Champions deliver training and awareness sessions, support and information to both managers and colleagues.
  • Holding weekly lunch-and-learn sessions open to all colleagues, providing connection, education and exercise.  Sessions cover a wide range of topics, from fitness and how to deal with brain fog and hot flashes, to more taboo topics such as libido, unwanted hair, anxiety coping strategies.
  • Launching a menopause page on employee wellbeing hubs. Featuring a range of resources and guidancefrom fact sheets and guides for line managers and employees, to a comprehensive series of webinars delivered in consult with third-party experts.
  • Redesigning the HSBC UK uniform to ensure it’s made out of more breathable material and more sets can be ordered without giving a reason.
  • Simplifying policies and procedures. For example, making it easier for colleagues to order a fan, whether working in a branch, office or at home during the pandemic.
  • Providing information to their free confidential telephone counselling service team members so they are more knowledgeable about the menopause support the business can provide.

Amanda Murphy, Head of Commercial Banking for HSBC UK, said: “We’ve built a thriving community leading awareness and education about the menopause across HSBC UK, underpinned by supportive policies and actions. We’re incredibly proud to be breaking the taboo surrounding menopause as part of our wider employee wellbeing strategy, creating a more inclusive workplace where all our colleagues are supported to be at their best.” 

Chris Pitt, Chief Executive of first direct, said: “Menopause is not just a women’s issue – it affects women and their families, and often at the peak of their careers. Supporting the wellbeing of all our people is central to first direct’s success, and helping all our managers and colleagues better understand and feel comfortable talking about menopause is the right thing to do – for our people, and our business.”

Paul Spencer, Chief Executive of M&S Bank, said: “Paul Spencer, Chief Executive of M&S Bank, said: “We’re really proud to have achieved Menopause Friendly Accreditation, but it’s also really important that we keep the conversation going – informing and educating – as we know we’ll have colleagues who may be experiencing symptoms for the first time, as well as new colleagues and line managers joining us. We want to celebrate our successes but also to continue to strive to be even better.”

Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Menopause in the House of Commons, said: “Whilst all women will experience the menopause, every woman’s experience will be different.  Some will barely notice any symptoms, but for others the suffering can be unbearable – stressful, debilitating and completely life-changing. Changes in the workplace, such as flexible working hours, relaxed uniform policies and adaptations to working environments, could all make such a difference.  It’s time all employers took menopause seriously and took action.”

Congratulations to HSBC UK, first direct and M&S Bank – we know what a difference they’ve made for their colleagues and their organisation. It’s time all employers followed their example. You can watch their response to the news here:

Menopause Friendly Independent Panel assessed



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