Davina McCall speaks out for UK's forgotten retail workers

British broadcaster and beauty ambassador wants to tackle taboos among the UK’s fastest growing work demographic

Davina McCall

British broadcaster and beauty ambassador Davina McCall has stepped out on behalf of menopausal and perimenopausal women to ask for better support from employers in the retail sector.

Working with charity group Retail Trust, the 53-year-old is calling on retailer bosses to tackle the taboo around the menopause and create a more open workplace culture.

Menopausal women are the fastest growing work demographic in the UK.

According to findings from the The Menopause Survey conducted in 2018, more than three quarters of women felt their menopausal symptoms had been problematic in the workplace and 20% said they had considered quitting their job as a result; rising to 44% among those with more severe symptoms.

The STUC Women’s Committee survey also found that 32% of respondents felt the menopause was treated negatively at work, and 63% said it was treated as a joke.

Common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause – the time during which the body makes the transition to menopause – include hot flushes, usually in the face, neck and chest, vaginal dryness, irregular periods and problems sleeping.

McCall is also expected to speak at Retail Trust’s Leaders’ Summit event in November, which is aimed at improving staff wellbeing and take part in an interview with Elle, Sunday Times Style, and Cosmopolitan editor Lorraine Candy.

“There’s still a taboo in talking about menopause and perimenopause in the workplace and this has to change,” said McCall.

“We need to make it normal and unremarkable for people to discuss it at work, which is why it’s great that the Retail Trust is putting menopause on its agenda.

“For retailers that really care about their employees’ wellbeing, creating an open and supportive culture around menopause is a great start in helping to tackle it.”

Throughout the pandemic, the UK’s retail sector has faced what Retail Trust has called a ‘mental health storm’ due to mounting job losses.

“Retail workers everywhere have suffered many consequences of the pandemic and the future success of the industry now rests heavily on the hope, health and happiness of its workforce,” said Chris Brook-Carter, CEO of Retail Trust.

“Women make up a large proportion of the British retail sector so the industry already has a real responsibility to step up and support those experiencing the perimenopause and menopause, many of whom will be at the peak of their careers and under other pressures.

“But every single one os uf need to know and talk about the menopause and Davina is absolutely right that the support starts with creating more opening conversations at work that will help us all tackle this taboo.”

Beauty intervenes

Helen Mirren for L'Oréal

Beauty brands have been wrongly targeting menopausal and premenopausal women, favouring younger consumers for many years.

Dior chose Cara Delivigne to appear to step out for its Capture Youth skin care line, which “corrects all visible signs of ageing to reveal a radiant youthful beauty”.

However, a study by Superdrug’s #LifePlus50+ Beauty Report found that 82% of women think it’s important to see mature models in beauty campaigns, and 94% disagreed with younger models used for advertising skin care to women over the age of 40.

But beauty has been wising up to the error of its ways.

Actresses Teri Hatcher, Dame Helen Mirren and Kim Cattrell have been tapped by beauty brands in recent years.

Meanwhile, Isabella Rossellini was re-signed by Estée Lauder Companies’ Lancôme at the age of 65, following a 21-year hiatus.

However, in spite of a resurgence in older ambassadors, brands are still missing out a new report by education platform Gen M discovered that 91% of consumers experiencing the menopause have never seen any specific advertising or marketing that targets the end of the menstrual cycle.

The vegan market, according to the Generation Menopause: The Invisibility Report, is being heavily marketed towards but menopausal women are being ignored.

“This research has substantiated that brands and retailers are not currently meeting the needs of women at a time in their lives when they need support the most," said Heather Jackson, co-founder of Gen M.

“As women go through ‘the change’, brands equally need to do the same. The research highlights that retailers and brands, though unintentionally, are falling short of connecting and servicing the menopausal woman through uninspiring, unreflective and limited product and marketing offerings.

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