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QBE's menopause initiatives

By Emma Higgins
Chief People Officer - International

On World Menopause Day, QBE's Chief People Officer, Emma Higgins, discusses the many ways we are supporting our employees affected by Menopause.

For too long, menopause has been deemed as an unspoken matter, and as a result, it is rarely ever discussed in the workplace. It's not surprising then that Wellbeing of Women reports that 900,000 women in the UK have quit their jobs due to the menopause. At QBE Europe, we know that this is something that must change, so in July, we signed the Workplace Menopause Pledge. By signing the pledge, we have committed to; recognising that the menopause can be an issue in the workplace, talking openly and respectfully about the menopause and actively supporting and informing our employees affected by the menopause. Normalising the conversation is an important step in breaking the silence on this once-taboo subject. I am so proud of our circle network who have made great progress in supporting QBE employees affected by the menopause. Sharing experiences and learning more about how best to support individuals, family members, colleagues, and managers will help us achieve QBE's ambition of creating a truly inclusive and supportive company.  

Here are some of the steps we have already taken to support our employees;  

M Cafés  

Every month we hold an informal, safe space for colleagues to have supportive conversations about the menopause. At the M Cafés, colleagues can come and share how they are feeling and what has worked for them to help others. The Cafés are also regularly attended by colleagues who want to help their loved ones or gain insight on how to best support their co-workers.   

Employee comments about M Cafés   

“My wife has found the materials that the M Café has shared to be really helpful - so many thanks!” 

“Feel like screaming some days – just want someone to say ‘are you ok’ "  

I had no idea of some of these menopause symptoms – thought I was going off my rocker comforting realisation that I'm not“ 

“I wanted to say a big thank you to all of you involved in the MCafé and QBE Circle - Its inspiring to work with colleagues who are not afraid to speak up and talk about the taboo subjects of life”  

Menopause buddy   

As part of our menopause buddy initiative, our employees can partner up with a volunteer colleague who will be able to assist them; by supporting conversations with their manager, helping them in a challenging situation or just listening if they need someone to talk to. 


QBE are committed to being an inclusive, flexible, and supportive employer that provides its employees with the opportunity to work in a hybrid way. Therefore, we encourage employees to use our Flex@QBE principles to work in a hybrid way to find the right balance to create a pattern of work that allows them to best manage their menopause symptoms.  

Menopause guide   

To support our people and inform our managers, we have created a Menopause Guide which includes information on the menopause, symptoms people may experience, and the impact these can have in the workplace. The guide also signposts colleagues to support, and links to helpful external resources.  

Sanitary products   

Following suggestions from our Menopause group, colleagues in our UK offices can now get sanitary products from all bathrooms for free, a move which will be echoed across Europe in the coming months.  

EMB support   

In September, I was lucky enough to be a panellist on the Dive In event '(peri)Menopause and beyond: can we create a sustainable, thriving workforce?,  hosted by leading lecturer and advisor Dr Shahzadi Harper. The event was a great opportunity to share with others in the industry how QBE is supporting our employees and learn about other ways we can improve. 

In December, our Circle Network sat down with the Executive Management Board (EMB) to raise awareness of the effects that menopause can have on all colleagues, both women and men. The group shared their personal stories and experiences of going through menopause whilst working at QBE, to show first-hand what it means for colleagues experiencing these symptoms and balancing daily life.  

Since the meeting, several actions have been taken to support colleagues impacted by menopause.  

The QBE Europe EMB have committed to:  

  • Understand whether People Leaders are aware of how many of their team members are handling peri-menopause/menopause-related impacts (may be partners).   
  • Continue to create a safer environment and encourage others to become involved in menopause support    
  • For EMB members to consider joining an M-Café session to hear first-hand how staff are impacted by menopause   
  • QBE to liaise with identified customers for insights into their approach and best practice.   

Mike East, Claims Director

''Someone you know at work, at home or socially will be affected by the menopause. At QBE, we think it's time to have the conversation, increase awareness and education and ensure we have the open dialogue and support framework where the impact of menopause is mainstream and not taboo. This will further foster the inclusive culture we are building.''  

Your contact

Your contact

Emma Higgins

Emma Higgins

Chief People Officer

+44 20 7105 4397