Today on World Menopause Day one of our male colleagues sat down to discuss the introduction of our Menopause Policy with our female project lead here at Tigers Group.

You can see the questions borne out of curiosity, one of Tigers key values, from Gerry Hamill, our Group Commercial Director and subsequent responses from Laura Devennie our Group Director of People and Culture below.

Gerry: When did we introduce our Menopause Policy here at Tigers?
Laura: The policy was officially put in place in March 2022 after a long period of background work and research.

Gerry: As a business perhaps you can share what prompted tigers to think about putting a menopause policy in place?
Laura: Initially we came to recognise that a large proportion of our colleagues were women and not only that but women of all ages. At Tigers we talk about brain development and the science of connection, including attachment theory, and we had become increasingly aware through conversation of the range of symptoms attached to menopause. For many this often appears a taboo subject but we immediately felt we had to address the subject internally for our colleagues.
Often people feel they are alone in dealing with symptoms, or may not recognise that feelings, physical and emotional, they are experiencing are not unique to them but that their colleagues are also on that journey through the menopause.

Gerry: Who was involved in researching the policy internally and what processes did you follow to assist with drafting the policy?
Laura: Our first action was to reach out to our team, our entire team across the business, there was no gender disqualification in our request to join us in our early conversations.
We were delighted by the enthusiasm the invitation inspired from across the group. Colleagues representative of all age groups came forward to engage in our conversation including team members at varying stages of the menopause all of whom were curious to learn more about the subject.
Coming together to talk was the next step on the policy journey when people through storytelling shared their own life experiences of menopause or simply being a woman with colleagues. After which we created an action plan where a raft of people accepted individual tasks and responsibilities allocated and designed to give us all a greater understanding of the menopause and its symptoms.
We sought to find external resources too which would add to our knowledge and allow to attach some of the science to the learning. This helped each of us understand where we where individually in life.

Gerry: What key or additional learning, if any, did yourself and colleagues achieve along the way to assist putting the policy in place?
Laura: The biggest thing for me and I’m sure I speak for many of the team when I say that I learned there are different stages of menopause. For example, perimenopause which actually comes in two stages (early and late) and identified the symptoms attached to each. On a personal level this led me to understand that I was experiencing early perimenopause symptoms something which I had previously thought of as being years ahead of me.
Up to that point I was probably guilty of being quite flippant about symptoms jokingly referring to them as me just being hormonal or it being that time of the month but I learned that my brain and body were changing through hormonal imbalances. I found that fascinating when looking it at from a brain development perspective as we do through our internal Daring Ventures programme. I could then name the changes and the feelings around them.
Symptoms such as cognitive disturbances (concentration, brain fog) all of which I had aligned to stress previously I learned it was related to the changes that were taking place in my body.
Along with that came the realisation that this experience is years in the making and not something which appears and leaves you in a short space of time.
It did in actual fact lead us to think of our male colleagues and what process they go through and we have now formed a working group to consider those changes which society also flippantly refers to as mid-life crisis, etc.

Gerry: Do you feel, from a people and culture perspective, this has brought daily benefits to the workplace for Tigers?
Laura: I think the first thing is it brings a willing to engage in conversation and it removes shame from the discussion. It has created a shared language, a sense of belonging with others, and also creates a support network simply through awareness.
We accept that we still have more to do in terms of education and awareness across all genders of the group because each of them will have people in their lives who may be experiencing menopause. Arming people with that knowledge can only be a positive.

Gerry: Having reached the point of having the policy in place what would you offer as advice to others thinking of doing the same for the first time?
Laura: To go for it, to implement and not be fearful. To seek external support if needed, work collaboratively with people within your business in developing your policy.
It would have been much easier for us simply to present a policy as a finished article but there is a feeling, an experience shared, behind the policy when people realise they were part of the team that created the policy.
There is no downside to gaining the knowledge, sharing it and implementing practices borne out of that same learning.

Thank you Laura for your willing to share both personally and professionally, it has been in this short time an education for me to listen to your comments.