Women in tech

Breaking the silence: menopause and its impact on the tech sector

- December 7, 2023 3 MIN READ
The Newfound Global gathering
In the fast-paced world of tech, conversations around menopause may seem out of place.

However, with women making up half the population and retiring on average seven years earlier than men (largely due to the effects of menopause on their health), this is not just a problem for individuals, but for business and the whole economy.

In a new initiative Newfound, an executive search firm for scale-up companies, has taken the lead in normalising discussions around menopause within the startup community.

Recent breakfast roundtables were held in Melbourne and Sydney, featuring senior leaders in the tech sector, setting the stage for a movement to destigmatise and address menopause-related challenges in the workplace.

Newfound ensured a welcoming environment for senior women tech leaders.

Claire Marriott, APAC CEO of Newfound, shared a candid experience of a hot flash, emphasising the need for open dialogue. Grace Molloy, CEO of Menopause Friendly Australia, highlighted the recent launch of her organisation and its efforts to advance menopause-related conversations in workplaces.

The roundtables brought together influential figures from the tech world, including Techstars, Canva, Stone & Chalk, Workday, and Accenture, who brought a unique perspective on menopause.

From directors of leading tech hubs to CEOs of fintech companies, the participants expressed their motivations for joining the discussion. Their backgrounds, ranging from finance to technology, demonstrated the diverse roles women play in the tech ecosystem.

Molloy presented key facts and statistics that shed light on the challenges faced by menopausal individuals in the workforce.

Retirement statistics revealed a concerning trend. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, women report wanting to work until they are 64, but on average are retiring at 52 and 7.4 years earlier than men.

Of those women who retired before 55, nearly half reported their own health as the reason. This compares to only 12% who reported retiring due to caring responsibilities. This reduces the number of women taking up C-suite roles in scale-up companies. The discussion extended to workplace challenges, leadership obstacles, and the language and stigma associated with menopause.

“Menopause support is important and is part of our ongoing commitment to normalise the conversation and support our people impacted by it,” said Reema Dubey, Managing Director of Accenture

“Through our Menstrual and Menopause employee resource group, we provide peer support and resources such as learning modules, information sessions, portable office fans and complimentary sanitary products in our all-inclusive facilities”

The business case for menopause support was emphasised, citing its impact on mental health, productivity, and stress-related injuries. Medical challenges, allyship, and education were also discussed, stressing the importance of creating a supportive environment.

Visibility and representation were addressed through examples of public figures openly discussing menopause.

“Chief Executive Women’s 2023 Census revealed that 83% of CEO pipeline roles are filled by men. To change this, we need to plug the leaky tap of talented women opting out of work due to menopause symptoms,” Grace Molloy said.

“It’s encouraging to see women speaking up when menopause symptoms impact them, like this moment on ABC live TV.”

Not everyone is ready for a conversation but in a recent opinion piece, Molloy argues that women should not shut up about it, but roar about it.

Issues like access disparities, structural challenges in medical societies, and the impact of menopause on the gender pay gap and mental health were brought to the forefront. Leaders and organisations were urged to take an active role in driving change and breaking the silence surrounding menopause.

“The stats don’t lie; women build excellent businesses. Throw on a few decades of experience and the results are even better! So we need more women starting businesses at every age” said Trenna Probert, CEO of Super Fierce

Newfound Global’s initiative to bring menopause into the spotlight within the tech world marks another step toward normalising this crucial conversation. The tech ecosystem, known for its innovation and adaptability, now has an opportunity to lead the way in creating inclusive workplaces that address the needs of menopausal individuals.

By sharing stories, building a community, and fostering understanding, the tech sector can pave the way for a more compassionate and supportive future. This movement is not just about menopause; it’s about embracing diversity, promoting inclusivity, and recognizing the value of every individual, regardless of their life stage.

“At the Menopause Executive Roundtable, we delved into the challenges faced by female executives navigating menopause,” TechDiversity executive director Luli Adeyemo said.

“These discussions are crucial for shedding light on the unique experiences of women in leadership roles. By openly addressing these challenges, we not only empower female executives but also pave the way for positive actions that benefit us all.

“Together, we can foster supportive environments, advocate for workplace policies that accommodate diverse life stages, and ultimately enhance the professional landscape for everyone.” –