Supporting Employees Through Menopause: An Interview With ASOS

Last week, fashion retailer ASOS announced it would be introducing several new policies aimed at supporting its employees through health-related life events. The measures will include paid leave and flexible working for staff members experiencing menopause, with the measures also covering those going through fertility treatments or dealing with pregnancy loss.

Finance Monthly speaks to Jo Butler, Chief People Officer at ASOS, about the new measures and what else businesses can do to support people during menopause.

What initially prompted ASOS to introduce a policy for staff experiencing menopause? 

“Our mission at ASOS is to give people the confidence to be whoever they want to be. Part of this is recognising that sometimes people will need our support when they’re going through big life changes, transitions or challenges. 

“We wanted to ensure that our people knew we were here for them as a progressive employer, no matter what and every step of the way.

“Our menopause policy was therefore launched as part of a broader suite of support, including for pregnancy loss, fertility and other life events, including but not limited to gender reassignment, cancer treatment and escaping domestic violence.”

Despite menopause being a natural part of many people’s lives, it’s still a big taboo, especially in the workplace. Do you think people going through menopause will have the confidence to request the flexible working and other support that ASOS is now offering them? 

“It is something we will need to keep working on, but by openly discussing issues such as the menopause, acknowledging the challenges and experiences people may feel and creating an environment where people feel they can ask for the support they need within a clear framework, we hope to make good progress.

“It’s really important for us that our policies were written with everyone in mind, not just the majority. This is why our new suite of life event policies are gender neutral. The aim of calling this out is not only to directly support our trans and non-binary ASOSers but also to educate and remind our cisgender ASOSers that these issues are universal. For menopause specifically, we also recognise this affects people across the age spectrum”.

Your menopause policy will undoubtedly support and empower many individuals. What else can businesses, large and small, do to support people during menopause?

“We take our role as an inclusive business very seriously and continue to celebrate and promote diversity, equity and inclusion both for our customers and our employees. At a fundamental level all organisations – large and small – can start by creating an open environment where people feel empowered to talk about the issues that matter to them.

Jo Butler, Chief People Officer at ASOS
Jo Butler, Chief People Officer at ASOS – Image courtesy of ASOS

“We have a number of workplace equality networks at ASOS – communities which embrace and celebrate all of our wonderful ASOSers and allies. The networks are places to share, to talk, to ask questions, or just to be seen. They provide a safe space for people to talk about their experiences in a confidential environment, feed into the creation of policies and provide a voice to help guide and shape our approach to these issues.

“We also work closely with a number of external experts in this space, including Inclusive Companies, to help us on our journey to being the most diverse ASOS we can be. Through harnessing best practice and innovation, we want to empower all our people to bring their authentic selves to work, every day, and to drive inclusion for all.”

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