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Menstruation, Menopause and Mental health: more women in the workforce suffering in silence

26 April 2023
  • Women continue to feel uncomfortable talking about mental and personal health challenges in the workplace, with many struggling with menstruation and menopause symptoms
  • More women feel they are expected to go into the workplace despite flexible workplace policies
  • Women bear the greater responsibility for domestic tasks and feel they need to prioritise their partner’s careers over their own
  • Globally, more women left their jobs in the last 12 months than in 2021 and 2020 combined, citing a lack of flexibility among the top reasons

A growing number of women feel uncomfortable talking about their mental and personal health challenges in the workplace, according to a new Deloitte Global report: ‘Women @ Work: A global outlook’. The research, now in its third year, surveyed 5,000 women in ten countries, including 500 working women in the UK, to better understand the experiences of women in the workplace.

Improvement to women’s mental health marred by growing stigma

New to the report this year, the research revealed that when it comes to menstruation and menopause, many employees suffer in silence: more than a quarter of women (28%) experiencing symptoms related to menopause and 40% with symptoms work through pain without taking time off. Women in the UK experiencing challenges related to menopause are more likely than their global counterparts to work through pain (30% in the UK compared to 20% of global respondents).

There has been a significant decline in the number of respondents who feel comfortable talking about mental health in the workplace: only 28% of UK respondents feel comfortable talking about it at work, compared to 45% last year.

Jackie Henry, managing partner for people and purpose, Deloitte UK said: “Our research shows that there is a stigma around discussing mental health and women’s issues in UK workplaces, but it’s concerning to see that this has worsened in the last year. The research highlights how important it is for employers to actively listen to the needs of women – and, crucially, take action to create an inclusive culture, where everyone feels their health concerns are addressed.”

Disconnect between flexible workplace policies and expectations on working women

In the UK, more women feel they are expected to go into the workplace despite flexible workplace messaging (35%, an increase of 21 percentage points since 2022), whilst flexible working is still not an option for 29% of women.

The study also found that 43% of women with hybrid work arrangements are experiencing exclusion from meetings, decisions, or informal interactions, and 33% say they don’t have enough access to senior leaders.

A lack of flexibility at work is driving career decisions—more women worldwide have left their jobs in the past 12 months than in 2021 and 2020 combined (18% globally and 18% in the UK), and lack of flexibility is among the top reasons cited.

There is a correlation between flexibility and employer loyalty: those with flexible work arrangements said that they plan to stay longer with their employers than those without (39% compared to 27%). Flexibility is a top deciding factor for women who have recently left an employer (17%) and for women who are considering leaving their current employer (25%).

Henry continued: “Flexible working policies, along with other supportive measures, are key in creating more inclusive workplaces for women. The research shows that women want flexibility and that it has an impact on their career decisions – so it’s absolutely critical that organisations understand this and make sure that hybrid working is inclusive and does not disadvantage anyone in the workplace.”

Women bear greatest responsibility for household tasks

Women in the UK reported feeling unable to switch off from work (40%), even as they bear the greatest responsibility for household tasks: 43% reported that they are solely responsible for tasks, while 20% reported an equal split of responsibility, 13% their partner, 4% a family member of friend and 20% paid help.
Factors outside of the workplace also take their toll as women in the UK cite financial security as their top concern (62%), closely followed by women’s rights (60%) and their mental health (58%).
More than two-thirds (67%) of women say their partner is the primary earner in the household, while just 10% declare themselves as the primary earner. Further, more than a third of women say they feel the need to prioritise their partner’s career over their own, often because their partner earns more money.

- Ends -

Notes to editor

Between October 2022 and January 2023, Deloitte Global conducted a survey of 5,000 women in 10 countries to learn more about their experiences in the workplace. The survey also aimed to understand the state of gender equality in the workplace from an intersectional lens and the types of actions that employers are taking to support, retain, and empower women within their organizations.

Each respondent answered 28 questions about their experience at work; the impact of that experience on their personal life; and the steps their employer is taking to support their career progression and well-being.

*The surveyed countries are:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Germany
  • India
  • Japan
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Deloitte surveyed 500 women in the United Kingdom and evaluated responses through the intersectional lenses of race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

For more information and to view the full results of Deloitte’s Women @ Work 2023: A Global Outlook, visit: