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Gowling WLG (UK) LLP: supporting our colleagues through the menopause

updated on 03 January 2024

This article has been produced by Gowling WLG (UK) LLP, sponsors of LawCareers.Net’s Diversity hub.

Reading time: four minutes

As a part of our Inclusion for All strategy, we continue to look at our behaviours, policy and process changes, and ways of working that enable Gowling WLG (UK) LLP to be truly diverse.

The menopause is a natural part of the ageing process and occurs when a woman's oestrogen levels begin to decline, and we’re committed to providing those experiencing menopause symptoms and changes with the support they need.  

Vivienne Reeve, principal associate in our employment team, leads on our firm's menopause work. Her involvement started after an invitation to a menopause café: "Emma Dennis [DE&I and wellbeing senior manager] invited me to go to a menopause café in late 2019, hosted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

"We met women who shared their menopause experiences and learnt from a menopause expert, and as a result in early 2020 we started our cafés as part of the Enable network. We started bringing in support and developing our resources as we went along, listening to what our colleagues wanted and needed."

Raising awareness across the firm has been key to breaking down any barriers and stigma associated with menopause. At the start, the women working at Gowling weren't openly discussing menopause let alone the men, and we needed to do something to start the conversation. By engaging with external experts, we provided sessions aimed at individuals, line managers and specifically at educating men on menopause and giving them a safe space to ask questions.

More than 50% of our population are women, therefore it's critical that we understand menopause and that our line managers are equipped to offer support, understand the adjustments that can be put in place and importantly that our people know they can ask for help.

Gowling’s menopause policy

In 2022 we introduced a menopause policy to support those who are experiencing menopause or have already been through it, as well as those who are supporting somebody through it. Outlined in the policy are the ways in which our people can access support, including guidance for managers around workplace adjustments and a full list of resources available for those seeking to learn more about the menopause or to identify how they can get some help.

In addition, we now run our own monthly menopause cafés, offering a place for women across the firm to come together to share experiences, ask questions and support each other. It's heartening to see the impact these cafés have on our people, particularly as it was a menopause café that initially inspired us to take action.

Hear from Jasmine Coyne, a solicitor in the employment team at Gowling, as she discusses her route to qualification, the day-to-day work and the reasons Gowling stands out.

For Vivienne, it's been a proud journey in helping to shape the firm's approach to menopause guidance and support, with pride not only in how far the firm has come in the area but also of colleagues who’ve made a difference with their actions.

"Each time we've heard someone say that the support the network provides has helped them, whether that be through our monthly cafés, sharing news, through conversations with our menopause buddies, or expert webinars, that has made us proud.

"Our Menovest event has been our standout moment this year – Stuart Young and Huw Evans wore a Menovest, which simulates some of the awful body heat surges that the menopause can cause. They have both been really supportive of our menopause work for some time but really felt how disruptive and distracting it was to them at work and shared that with the audience, which was really powerful.

"Over time, we're reaching more people and the Enable network meetings are just an anchor for the many supportive conversations that happen every week. Talking about the menopause is becoming more normal and understanding is growing.

"It's been positive and there’s a shift happening, from avoiding what was thought to be an awkward private issue to one that more people understand is a period of a woman's life that can have a material impact on her while working, which she may need support with."

This article has been produced by Gowling WLG (UK) LLP, sponsors of LawCareers.Net’s Diversity hub