Baroness Brady calls for more support over menopause

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

Nearly half of women business owners (45%) believe the government should provide better support for women going through perimenopause and menopause. It comes as new research carried out by Simply Business, one of the UK’s biggest providers of small business insurance, reveals that over a quarter of women business owners (27%) have suffered a loss in earnings as a result of going through menopause.

The survey of over 900 women business owners revealed the extent to which the perimenopause and menopause impacts those in business. As many as two in five (38%) say they’ve been forced to adapt or reduce their working hours, while one in eight (13%) have lost customers as a result. Alarmingly, 7% say they’ve had to shut down their business entirely as a result of challenges with the menopause – highlighting the need for further support.

Simply Business has partnered with Baroness Karren Brady CBE, above, as its new Small Business Ambassador, to help raise the profile of the challenges facing small businesses and SMEs across the UK.

Baroness Brady CBE shared insight into her own thoughts on menopause support. She said: “Women business owners are particularly vulnerable when it comes to facing health conditions like the menopause, especially those running their business alone or with just a small team for support. It’s vital that we support them through this time, and help them to flourish, not fail. We can do this by raising awareness of the symptoms and how they can be managed, in the workplace, and by speaking openly about menopause and the huge impact it can have at work.

“No woman should feel they have no choice but to close their business because of their menopause symptoms. I’ve been quite lucky as my menopause journey has been milder compared to some, but I have suffered from hot flushes, lack of sleep and occasional forgetfulness.

“My mother told me, ‘Back in our day, we used to just get on with it.’, but just because they used to get on with it, doesn’t mean we have to. There are things we can do and medication we can take to improve symptoms, and we also need support within the workplace. Women are valuable assets in business at all ages and at all life stages.”

Following the government’s recent decision to reject efforts to make the menopause a protected characteristic, the findings of the Simply Business research found two thirds of women business owners (66%) disagree wholeheartedly with this decision. 

Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, commented: “Menopause has a significant impact on the lives of many women, and a lack of support is having a direct impact on those women who own small businesses. More than one in four say they’ve lost earnings as a result of going through the menopause and our research found that nearly half of women business owners believe the government should provide better support for women going through perimenopause and menopause.

“Accounting for over 99% of all British businesses, 48% of  the British workforce, and contributing trillions of pounds a year in turnover, it’s imperative that we create the right conditions for our country’s small business owners to thrive. Our research paints a clear picture of the many unique challenges facing women business owners, and we’d urge the government to make supporting women small business owners – from startups to seasoned SMEs – a key priority, for the benefit of our economy and communities.”

Susanna Edwards, Founder and Director of The School of Creative Wellness said: “It is a well known fact that a high proportion of perimenopausal women have to drop their hours or leave employment due to the effects and symptoms of perimenopause. I personally had multiple pressures – caring for a parent, single mum to my daughter and a high pressure job to manage, all during lockdown. I had started to have symptoms of perimenopause during this period but I did not know what they were. There was no time or space for me to take care of myself. The demands made upon me from these multiple areas led to severe burnout and a breakdown.”

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024