Co-written by Ayah Abbass, Claire Steele and Amandeep Doll.
There’s a culture of silence around women’s health in the workplace that can have a profound impact on individuals and affect their colleagues and families too. Women still face taboos and barriers when it comes to discussing menstruation, menopause and other gynaecological conditions. These conversations often remain hushed and hidden, leaving many women feeling uncomfortable to raise their health concerns at work.
As over 60% of pharmacists and 83.6% of pharmacy technicians are women, it’s high time we break this silence and start to address it openly and constructively in the workplace.
The consequences of silence
The consequences of neglecting women's health at work can be significant – as well as a loss in productivity, some women feel without support they must cut back their hours or miss out on promotion or other advancement opportunities.
When we are hiding our health issues - such as painful periods, or menopausal symptoms – out of fear of being seen as ‘weak’, or not good enough, we enable the silence to continue. Sometimes we just assume that no one will help or support us, but by reaching out we help to bust those taboos.
Talking more about our health in the workplace can:
Empower women: Encouraging open and respectful conversations about women's health creates a culture where pharmacy teams feel safe discussing their health concerns without fear of judgment or discrimination.
Help retain staff and increase productivity: When managers acknowledge and accommodate women's health needs, women can feel more valued, supported and are more likely to remain in the workplace.
Create inclusivity: Recognising women's health concerns sends a powerful message that all team members are valued and that their well-being matters, creating greater inclusivity at work.
What’s needed in the workplace?
Flexible policies that allow women to manage their health needs effectively in pharmacy make a huge difference. This could include flexible work hours, remote working options and paid time off for medical appointments.
Education and training for both managers and teams can help reduce stigma and misunderstanding. Sometimes people just don’t understand the varied experiences women can have of the same condition and make assumptions based on their own experience or of those close to them.
Creating a supportive and inclusive pharmacy workplace where everyone feels comfortable seeking support for their health and well-being is a must – and essential to good mental health at work too.
Let’s break the silence
It’s time to shatter the silence surrounding women's health in the workplace. We often tend to ‘just get on with it’ but it’s time to speak up. Managers can make a huge difference by acknowledging and addressing women’s health issues and leaders can help create a more inclusive, productive, and supportive environment for everyone – it’s a win-win. Women's health matters, and it's time to make it a priority in pharmacy.
Read more RPS blogs.
We’d love to hear your ideas about how women’s health can be addressed in the pharmacy workplace. Get in touch via [email protected]