Ex-Dragons’ Den star Norah Casey looking for menopause-friendly workplaces in Wicklow for new awards

Former Dragons’ Den star Norah Casey is joining forces with the founder of Ireland’s first-ever clinic solely devoted to treating menopause in a ground-breaking scheme to honour Wicklow employers who are striving to help staff struggling with symptoms. 

The Menopause-Friendly Workplaces Awards is a national partnership between The Menopause Hub and global recognition service Great Places to Work to highlight the efforts of organisations supporting menopausal staff.

Casey and Menopause Hub CEO Loretta Dignam are leading a panel of expert judges to assess participating Irish employers on a variety of categories including menopause awareness training and support services.

Speaking at the awards launch yesterday at the Stella Cinema, in Rathmines, Dublin, Ms Dignam said menopause remained a taboo subject for many in Ireland, and women were suffering as a result.

“It was not that long ago when menopausal women in Ireland were talked about in hushed tones, as if they were suffering from some sort of unspeakable condition,” she said. 

Ms Dignam opened her first clinic in Mount Merrion, south Co Dublin, in 2019, after discovering first-hand the lack of help available when she was experiencing symptoms.

“For far too long, the plight of menopausal women in this country has been swept under the carpet,” she added. Attitudes are slowly changing but a lot more needs to be done.”

Research by her clinic, she said, indicated that almost 40% of menopausal and perimenopausal women in Ireland were on the verge of quitting careers because of the devastating impact of symptoms. 

“When a woman experiences menopause, she may notice several changes. She might experience brain fog or forgetfulness, fatigue, stress and anxiety, as well as hot flushes, vaginal issues, and broken sleep. Menopause symptoms can cause a person enormous difficulties at work, and their performance can be negatively impacted.

Employers, therefore, risk losing highly qualified employees with years of experience simply because these employees are female and they are experiencing changes due to hormonal shifts.

Thankfully, there is a growing number of organisations who are beginning to recognise the benefits of introducing menopause awareness programmes to help staff overcome any difficulties they are experiencing. Other organisations, unfortunately, have not been so forward thinking.”

Ms Dignam said employers who have introduced menopause awareness training have noticed improvements in absenteeism, employee retention and the number of women promoted to senior positions.

“Hopefully, the Menopause-Friendly Workplace Awards will encourage more and more employers to cast a critical eye over their workplaces to see if there is more they could do to help female staff experiencing menopause.”

The judging panel for the Menopause-Friendly Workplace Awards also includes Denise Kennedy, Assistant Secretary General at the Department of Agriculture; Cathal Divilly, Great Places to Work CEO; and Dr Conor Harrity, consultant gynaecologist at Beaumont and Rotunda hospitals and Medical Director at The Menopause Hub.

For more information about the awards, and details on how to enter, please email awards@menopausefriendly.ie.

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