Why conversations around menopause need to go beyond policy and guidance

Claire Douglas-Pennant shares the importance of supporting colleagues navigating the menopause.

Claire Douglas-Pennant

Chief People Officer Omnicom Media Group UK


Hot flushes, memory loss and anxiety – there are over 30 common symptoms of menopause, and they can change over time. Experiences of menopause and perimenopause are unique, and so supporting colleagues navigating these changes needs to go beyond just launching a policy.

At OMG UK, policies and guidance for employees aren’t written in isolation: they are shaped by the lived experiences of our colleagues, alongside input from our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). With nine ERGs including Women, Age Positive, Multicultural, Working Parents & Carers, and LGBTQ+, we take on board the intersectional contributions from these groups help us create more rounded and inclusive policies.

Similarly, our menopause policy was written with all our colleagues in mind. For those experiencing menopause, it provides benefits like flexible working, paid sick leave, desk fans and free therapy. It also includes guidance on how to have menopause conversations with a GP, and access to external support organisations; all reinforcing the fact that it is an ongoing health issue for which we offer continuous support.

For line managers, the policy provides guidance on how to navigate conversations around menopause and advice on how they can best support their team. For colleagues, the policy provides them an overview of menopause symptoms and offers guidance on how to best support someone experiencing it - normalising conversations around menopause and increasing allyship in the workplace.

By building an environment where our people can thrive both personally and professionally, we are able to retain our talented colleagues in a highly competitive market.

Claire Douglas-Pennant, Chief People Officer at Omnicom Media Group UK

The role that businesses play is evolving – there is no clear demarcation between an employees’ work and personal life when it comes to life experiences such as menopause. Impact can be felt across both personal and work environments, and it’s for this reason that we take more of a holistic approach to supporting our people at OMG. It’s not just good for our team; it’s good for business.

By building an environment where our people can thrive both personally and professionally, we are able to retain our talented colleagues in a highly competitive market.

When it comes to launching policies, we consider the other touchpoints that we can provide that go beyond the document. With our menopause policy specifically, it was about creating a culture in which conversations around menopause can happen openly, confidently, and without judgement. To create this environment, its essential to provide a wider education programme.

We recognise that our people consume information in different ways, and so we provide a variety of regular opportunities for engagement around the topic of menopause. These include panels with Women’s Health Magazine and Dr Fionnuala Barton, fireside chat with menopause advocate Michelle Griffith-Robinson talking about her personal experiences and the importance of support from your colleagues, sessions with nutritionists, and guidance towards educational resources. Among these recommendations are resources such as books, podcasts, programmes, and organisations dedicated to providing support.

These initiatives are aimed at all our employees. It’s important for everyone to have  a wider understanding and awareness around menopause – all of this helps normalise the conversations and creates a more inclusive and supportive environment.

And it’s a continuous journey. Our policies are not static; they evolve with changing needs, improvements to benefits, and our people’s feedback. In fact, since we launched our menopause policy, we have updated it to include free access for everyone to the Bupa Menopause Plan, which offers a consultation with a menopause-trained GP, personalised clinical advice, and follow-up consultations. As well as clearer signposting to organisations that offer support around fertility as for some, menopause can bring this to an unexpected and unwelcomed end. These adjustments followed feedback from employee focus groups and other employees.  

The more open we are as an industry to conversations around menopause, the better it will be for all concerned. Women shouldn’t have to seek out information on something that affects 51% of the population; resources should be readily available for all. As our lives change and evolve, so should our policies and guidance.

Guest Author

Claire Douglas-Pennant

Chief People Officer Omnicom Media Group UK


Claire is Chief People Officer at Omnicom Media Group UK where she is responsible for building a market-leading talent & employee experience strategy to drive success for OMG and its award-winning agencies. Claire has experience leading HR & Talent Strategy for global organisations, with a specialism in the media/creative industries. Prior to Omnicom, Claire was HR Director at NBC Universal Home Entertainment, where she ran an international change project leading to a successful integration with Warner Bros in 2020. Claire has an international background, living in Singapore for 3 years before moving back to the UK with her family in 2022.