At the 2023 ASFA Spotlight on Insurance event, AIA sponsored a session discussing menopause and its impact on a member’s claim experience and early retirement. Chaired by Sarah Penn, CEO of Mayflower Consulting, a panel of experts from the insurance, technology, superannuation, and medical industries discussed some candid and shocking realities about a common, but mostly hidden, life experience that impacts half the world’s population.

Menopause, mental health, and early retirement

A staggering 26.8 per cent of women retire earlier than planned and with 40 per cent less superannuation than their male counterparts. Additionally, it is a distressing reality that the highest suicide rate among women occurs within the age range of 45 to 49 and that women aged 45 to 55 are twice as likely to make a claim for depression and anxiety due to the misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment of menopause. These statistics demonstrate the far-reaching impact of menopause on our healthcare, superannuation, and insurance systems and why it must be acknowledged as a pressing societal concern, rather than considered solely a women’s issue.

Greater knowledge and understanding for widespread benefits

Professor Rod Baber AM, a Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynaecology, and Neonatology at the University of Sydney, provided his valuable perspective on the ongoing challenges surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of menopause. This is largely due to research which was published in a leading medical journal in 2002 which incorrectly identified an increased risk of developing breast cancer for women who were taking hormone therapy. While this research was later disproven, the fear it engendered – widely promoted in the media –  there is now an entire generation of women who have not accessed hormone therapy and GPs who have been reluctant to prescribe this treatment.

Later in the discussion, along with Professor Baber, I emphasised the crucial role of sharing readily accessible information about menopause, its symptoms, and treatment options. We know that this knowledge empowers loved ones and medical professionals to effectively support and advocate for women navigating this transformative phase of life.

Organisations providing support for meaningful change

Joining the discussion, Susan O’Neill, Commercial Director of Microsoft Australia, and Lydia Ho, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer of Future Super Group, shared insights into their companies’ approaches towards inclusivity. Susan shared an overview of some of the support and benefits offered by Microsoft Australia and emphasised Microsoft’s aim to break down the stigma surrounding menopause and foster open and genuine conversations within the organisation. As part of this initiative, their Family Employees’ Resource Group ran a talk focusing on menopause in conjunction with the Australasian Menopause Society (AMS). The talk had a huge uptake with more than 80 employees attending.

Lydia then highlighted Future Super Group’s progressive policy of providing paid Menstrual and Menopausal leave to all team members experiencing periods, or menopause. This policy offers an additional six days of leave, separate from personal sick leave. Inspired by the Menstrual Policy Template developed by the Victorian Women’s Trust, Future Super encourages other organisations to follow suit, with the hope of bringing about meaningful change.

Both Microsoft and Future Super Group recognise the value that women transitioning to menopause offer to their organisations and acknowledge that many of these women are in the prime of their careers. By reducing the stigma associated with menopause and encouraging transparent communication, they have been able to support their team members and help them thrive in the workplace.

AMS and AIA, a shared value partnership helping employees

AIA and the Australasian Menopause Society (AMS) provide evidence-based education about the symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause. The partnership works with Employers and Brokers to provide webinars and educational material for employees affected by menopause to find the right support, and to enable better staff retention and job satisfaction.

This collaboration embodies AIA’s shared value approach to insurance, as promoting awareness of menopause as an essential transitional stage in life not only benefits AIA customers and partners, but society at large.

Supporting health and wellbeing at every stage of life

The AMS and AIA partnership is a part of AIA Embrace – AIA’s award-winning holistic wellbeing ecosystem of world-class programs and partnerships designed to support everyday health and wellbeing at every stage of life’s journey.

Driven by evidence, research, data analytics, and behavioural science, AIA’s shared value solutions are developed in collaboration with various partners. Together, they address societal health problems which can lead to chronic mental and physical health conditions.

These partnerships provide education and access to early treatment to prevent Australians from becoming chronically unwell.