19 July 2021

HSBC UK, first direct and M&S Bank are the UK’s first accredited Menopause Friendly Employers

Today HSBC UK, first direct and M&S Bank were announced as the first employers in the UK to be awarded Menopause Friendly Accreditation(MFA). The accreditation recognises inclusive employers that build awareness and understanding around menopause and takes the wellbeing of their colleagues seriously.

Menopausal women are the fastest-growing workplace demographic. With nearly eight in 10 active in the workforce and as many as one in four considering leaving work during their menopause, it’s a key area for employer focus.1

Accreditation is determined by an independent panel of recognised experts and thought leaders who are passionate about accelerating change in menopause in the workplace best practice.

Professor Jo Brewis at The Open University, Menopause Friendly Accreditation Independent Panel member and co-author of a government report on the effects of menopause on women’s economic participation, said:

“While we’ve made an enormous amount of progress over the past few years, the topic of menopause is still quite taboo – and with that comes a lot of misunderstanding and stereotyping. Employers have an important role to play in supporting the issues and stages of the menopause, just like they have with other stages of women’s reproductive lives, like pregnancy and maternity, for decades. An inclusive workplace and colleague wellbeing are at the heart of menopause in the workplace support; in turn, benefits include increased productivity, lower absence levels, and fewer recruitment costs.

“We’ve thoroughly assessed all aspects of the incredible work HSBC UK, first direct and M&S Bank have done, and we’re delighted to recognise them as the first Menopause Friendly Accredited employers in the UK. It’s clear they've created a culture where it’s easy to talk about menopause, with best in class training and education for a wide range of colleagues and policies and support that really make a difference in the lives of women.”

HSBC UK, first direct and M&S Bank’s efforts to be a leading menopause friendly employer include:

  • Training 50 menopause Advocates and 75 Champions to help drive awareness and education. Made up of colleagues of all genders, menopause Advocates and Champions deliver training and awareness sessions, support and information to both managers and colleagues.
  • Holding weekly lunch-and-learn sessions open to all colleagues, providing connection, education and exercise. Sessions cover a wide range of topics, from fitness and how to deal with brain fog and hot flashes, to more taboo topics such as libido, unwanted hair, anxiety coping strategies.
  • Launching a menopause page on employee wellbeing hubs. Featuring a range of resources and guidance from fact sheets and guides for line managers and employees, to a comprehensive series of webinars delivered in consult with third-party experts.
  • Redesigning the HSBC UK uniform to ensure it’s made out of more breathable material and more sets can be ordered without giving a reason.
  • Simplifying policies and procedures. For example, making it easier for colleagues to order a fan, whether working in a branch, office or at home during the pandemic.
  • Providing information to their free confidential telephone counselling service team members so they are more knowledgeable about the menopause support the business can provide.

In 2019 HSBC UK held its first talk on the menopause, with both male and female senior managers sharing about their experiences with menopause from an individual and work perspective.

Amanda Murphy, Head of Commercial Banking for HSBC UK, said:

“We've built a thriving community leading awareness and education about the menopause across HSBC UK, underpinned by supportive policies and actions. We’re incredibly proud to be breaking the taboo surrounding menopause as part of our wider employee wellbeing strategy, creating a more inclusive workplace where all our colleagues are supported to be at their best.”

Chris Pitt, Chief Executive of first direct, said:

“Menopause is not just a women’s issue – it affects women and their families, and often at the peak of their careers. Supporting the wellbeing of all our people is central to first direct’s success, and helping all our managers and colleagues better understand and feel comfortable talking about menopause is the right thing to do – for our people, and our business.”

Paul Spencer, Chief Executive of M&S Bank, said: “Paul Spencer, Chief Executive of M&S Bank, said:

“We’re really proud to have achieved Menopause Friendly Accreditation, but it’s also really important that we keep the conversation going - informing and educating - as we know we’ll have colleagues who may be experiencing symptoms for the first time, as well as new colleagues and line managers joining us. We want to celebrate our successes but also to continue to strive to be even better.”

Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Menopause in the House of Commons, said:

“Whilst all women will experience the menopause, every woman’s experience will be different. Some will barely notice any symptoms, but for others the suffering can be unbearable – stressful, debilitating and completely life-changing. Changes in the workplace, such as flexible working hours, relaxed uniform policies and adaptations to working environments, could all make such a difference. It’s time all employers took menopause seriously and took action.”

Media enquiries to:

Deborah Garlick, Menopause in the Workplace Ltd. | deborah@henpicked.net 07949 488406

Aurora Bonin, HSBC UK | aurora.f.bonin@hsbc.com | 07438 850 833

Ben Marquand, first direct | ben.marquand@firstdirect.com | 0113 2766700

Louise Wheble, M&S Bank | louise.wheble@mandsbank.com | 079204 12086

Notes to editors:
  1. The average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51, although it can be earlier than this, naturally or due to surgery, or illness. Source: https://menopauseintheworkplace.co.uk/articles/menopause-and-work-its-important/
  2. Video: MFA Independent Panel member Suzanne Banks CBE, shares the news with HSBC UK, first direct and M&S Bank that they’re the first employers in the UK to be awarded accreditation in recognition of their efforts to be a leading menopause friendly employer.
  3. About Menopause Friendly Accreditation (MFA)
    Menopause Friendly Accreditation’s aim is for every employer to be menopause friendly. Its Independent Panel have high standards on what being a menopause friendly employer means and what they have to demonstrate. More information here: https://menopausefriendly.co.uk
    The MFA Independent Panel includes leading menopause in the workplace names and thought leaders including: Prof Jo Brewis -- The Open University, and co-author of a government report on the effects of menopause on women’s economic participation; Kathy Abernethy - former chair of The British Menopause Society; Paul Sesay – CEO of Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers, National Diversity Awards, Excellence in Diversity Awards and The Diversity Group; Susannah Fish OBE; Suzanne Banks CBE; Evelyn Dickey – pioneer of the first menopause policy and support as HRD at Severn Trent; and Jog Hundle, Employment Law partner at Mills & Reeve.
  4. About HSBC UK
    HSBC UK serves around 14.5 million customers across the UK, supported by 32,000 colleagues. HSBC UK offers a complete range of retail banking and wealth management to personal and private banking customers, as well as commercial banking for small to medium businesses and large corporates.
    HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 64 countries and territories in our geographical regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,923bn at 30 June 2020, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.
  5. About first direct
    first direct provides mobile banking, online and telephone services to its 1.5m customers and offers a full range of personal banking products including its multi-award winning current account and mortgages. It’s been recognised as being a pioneer of amazing customer service by numerous independent third parties including The Competition and Markets Authority, Which?, Moneywise, Moneyfacts and Moneysavingexpert.com. As well as its Facebook page, first direct uses social media to engage with customers through LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
  6. About M&S Bank
    M&S Bank (the trading name of Marks & Spencer Financial Services plc) launched in 2012 on the foundations of M&S Money, which was established in 1985 as the financial services division of Marks and Spencer plc. In November 2004, HSBC bought 100 per cent of the share capital of Marks and Spencer Retail Financial Services Holdings Limited.
    Today, M&S Bank operates as a joint venture arrangement between HSBC and Marks & Spencer, however, M&S Bank has its own banking licence and its own Board.
    M&S Bank offers a broad range of financial products, including the M&S Credit Card, and a range of loans, savings and general insurance products, while its travel money offering boasts one of the widest ranges of currencies available on the high street.