Article: Women take time off for menstruation, menopause, but don’t disclose it to employers

Diversity

Women take time off for menstruation, menopause, but don’t disclose it to employers

Deloitte’s Women @ Work report reveals signs of progress across various parameters, but there’s still a lot of room for improving the workplace experience.
Women take time off for menstruation, menopause, but don’t disclose it to employers

A significant number of working women are facing health challenges related to menstruation and menopause. Shockingly, over a third of them (more than 33 per cent) reported working through pain or symptoms related to menstruation, while almost 1 in 5 (18 per cent) worked through menopause symptoms.

Furthermore, around a quarter of women took time off for these reasons but did not disclose it at work. While 26 per cent said they did disclose menopause as a reason for taking time off and received support from their employer, only 13 per cent of those who did the same during menstruation agreed.

These are the findings of Deloitte’s Women @ Work: A Global Outlook, which surveyed 5,000 women across 10 countries, including 500 in India across age groups, employment status, sectors, and seniority. The survey finds some signs of progress for women in the workplace, but equally, that other factors have worsened since last year.

Fewer non-inclusive behaviours and bolder younger generations, but mental health and flexibility concerns remain high

Reflective of the global trend, women in India experienced fewer non-inclusive behaviours in 2023 than in 2022. The instance fell by almost 10 percentage points to 48 per cent.

Amongst those who did experience such behaviours, reporting of microaggressions more than doubled. The most commonly experienced non-inclusive behaviour was being interrupted or talked over during meetings. However, there’s a sharp drop in women reporting a lack of exposure to leaders, or feeling excluded from meetings, decisions, and informal interactions.

While levels of stress and burnout continue to be high globally and in India, it’s encouraging that in India, the youngest segment of the workforce is most comfortable talking about mental health in the workplace.

“It’s heartening to see younger generations take charge in having conversations that have traditionally been taboo. While top-down interventions and role-model behaviour are important to support mental health, organisations should leverage on this generation to establish strong peer-to-peer networks of mental health champions. The hope is that this cohort will hold on to their openness and progress towards being understanding, humane leaders of the future,” said Saraswathi Kasturirangan, Chief Happiness Officer, Deloitte India.

Hybrid working is getting better - for some

It’s reassuring that women are reporting better hybrid working experiences than last year. However, more women in India working in hybrid environments are also reporting a lack of predictability (28 per cent now vs. 15 per cent in 2022) and flexibility (32 per cent now vs. 13 per cent in 2022), as well as clarity around their employer’s expectations compared to last year.

The proportion of respondents who say that they are expected to go into their workplace despite messaging about flexibility and it being their choice has jumped from 10 per cent in 2022 to 36 per cent now.

“Organisations need to address this flexibility, predictability, and clarity deficit for sure, as this can adversely affect employee engagement and retention,” said Kasturirangan.

Women shoulder majority of childcare and household tasks

Although the global average findings are similar, a higher share of women in India report having to shoulder the primary responsibility for childcare, cleaning, and other domestic tasks (59 per cent and 48 per cent respectively in India vs. 46 per cent and 42 per cent globally). The share of households where the load of childcare is equally split is much higher globally (34 per cent) than in India (15 per cent).

Interestingly, even amongst women who are primary or equal breadwinners in the household (globally), 40 per cent (the single largest section) are still primary caregivers for children and 35 per cent are still responsible for cleaning and other domestic tasks.

“This firstly indicates the need for an attitude shift, which is a large, complex, and long-drawn task. But secondly, and something that’s within the control of India Inc., it may also indicate the need for more paternity benefits so that men who are willing to share the load can effectively do so,” opines Kasturirangan.

“For many organisations, parental benefits extend only to legally mandated maternity leave. Forward-thinking organisations can go beyond and develop a suite of paternity benefits that will start moving the needle.”

Gender Equality Leader organisations benefit through an amplifier effect

A group of “Gender Equality Leaders,” organisations that, according to the women surveyed, have created genuinely inclusive cultures that support their careers, work/life balance, and foster inclusion, says the research.

Women who work for Gender Equality Leaders are more engaged and have higher levels of well-being and job satisfaction and are five times likelier to recommend their organisations to friends or family as a great place to work, than those who work for lagging organisations.

 “This statistic goes to show that being an inclusive and supportive organisation has merits that go much deeper than just optics. They have a visible positive effect on talent attraction, engagement, and retention,” added Kasturirangan.

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Topics: Diversity, #DEIB, #Wellbeing, #Work Culture

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