Rose said the four areas of women’s health which had the biggest impact on career performance and business were menstruation, infertility, pregnancy and the menopause.
She said: “Women’s health at work is not a diversity agenda. It’s actually a key factor in women achieving their potential.”
“If the fact that female health events – not issues – impact on our talent pipeline, every woman of working age will experience some health-related physical and or psychological implications of being a woman,” she added.
Rose said there was a “clear business case” for addressing women’s health as she referenced research from McKinsey and Company’s Delivering through diversity report in 2018, which found that the most gender diverse businesses were 20 per cent more likely to have above average financial performance than their non-diverse counterparts.
From the top down
During her presentation, The Power of Gender Diversity, Rose said if senior staff led by example in recognising women’s health, then changes could filter through to the rest of the company.
“If your CEO or executive team is championing the issue the rest of the business will follow and is twice as likely to make an impact. If a CEO takes paternity leave and works flexibly, it gives every member of staff at every level permission to do the same,” she said.
Rose pointed out three areas where changes could be made to support women at work and their health, which included policy, services and education.
For policy, she said companies should support working parents by offering shared parental leave and flexible working, while she said services allowing women to access virtual or onsite care facilities could make it easier for them to seek help for any health concerns and “remove barriers and health inequality”.
She also said education could help to teach employees about the health concerns women faced to create a culture of understanding and normalise the conversation.
Change will take time
Rose also said the health issues which affect women are often described using “euphemistic language” such as “women’s trouble” or “time of the month”. Hiding from the use of the correct words for women’s health gave the impression it was “shameful”.
She added that this culture would not change overnight.
She said: “I tend to think of women’s health being in the same place mental health was five or ten years ago. It took time to remove the stigma associated with mental health and businesses took, and need to take, a huge critical role in changing perceptions.”