Nottingham-based entrepreneur Deborah Garlick is the founder of the online community henpicked.net, a website by and for women over 40. Her book, Menopause – the Change for the Better, which launched in October, aims to break the taboo around discussing the menopause. EMBL sat down with Garlick to find out more.
What was the inspiration behind Henpicked?
“Henpicked was set up as a website about the important things in life – happiness, health and wealth”, she says.
“We ask women what’s important to them. That’s how you get things across. We’re not sitting there like an editorial team thinking ‘what’s hot’. There is no one tone of voice at Henpicked, that’s not how communities are or the way we all talk to each other”.
How did the book come about?
“We noticed that the articles about the menopause were being clicked the most”, says Deborah.
“I assembled a group of Henpicked authors to discuss our knowledge – our hopes, fears and the questions we have about the menopause. Having also conducted a survey on the subject, we concluded that the lack of knowledge about the menopause is immense. There are too many myths that are holding us back.
“Now, we’re on a mission to get people talking openly about it”, she says.
“We want to make sure that women get the support they need. Lots of women say their doctors aren’t very helpful in this respect and 1 in 4 don’t consult their doctor even though their symptoms might be worse than they thought”.
“The UK has an ageing population”, adds Garlick.
“The average age for women going through the menopause is 51, and life expectancy is 82. That’s potentially over 30 years beyond retirement, potentially working for 15-20. In the 1900s that was 57 and 59. So a third of a woman’s life could be post menopausal and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be the best years of her life.
“Today we have more and more women in the workplace, many in senior positions, working for much longer due to later pension ages. With 75% of women experiencing menopause symptoms, 25% really struggling and as many as 10% of women saying that they’ve considered giving up work as a result, it doesn’t make sense to ignore these women’s experiences or for a company to lose their experience and contribution to their businesses”.
What’s next on Deborah’s agenda?
“I’d like the big focus to include menopause in the workplace”, she says.
“I think the priority for us, having spoken to businesses, is to get as many companies as possible to our event in February 2017. We’ve done so much reaching women directly through our website and the book, but the big shift to support it will be to get companies building it into their existing policies and practices and perhaps running events like the ones we’ve done and they’re starting to do at more progressive organisations, for example under the leadership of Sue Fish, Chief Constable at the Nottinghamshire Constabulary. We already have lots of best practice, experts to deliver them and expertise. Imagine how much difference we could make then!”
“Henpicked has been approached by companies to help them establish menopause in the workplace initiatives and policies”, she says.
“That’s especially great because there currently aren’t any, although certain legislative changes around flexible working have been helpful. We’ve created a modular approach, to make it easy for organisations to implement.
“I think companies should do at least the bare minimum to help women who are going through the menopause”, says Garlick.
“Maternity policies weren’t widespread 35 years ago, but that’s changed, so why can’t the same happen for the menopause?”
To Garlick’s delight, the campaign seems to be gathering pace.
“Our #HotFlashMob campaign on Twitter helped us get menopause trending in the top ten tweets in the UK (we believe for the first time)”, she says.
“In 24 hours nearly 2000 tweets using #hotflashmob reached over 8 million accounts on Twitter. It was trending in London, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Nottingham and even Seattle, USA. This in turn helped menopause trend for several hours across the UK, at one point as high as 7th“.
“The response to the book has been extraordinary”, she adds.
“We’re getting 5-star reviews on Amazon!”