Karren Brady's career advice to woman dismissed by boss while going through menopause

APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham United FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.

Today, she helps out an "overwhelmed" woman who was dismissed by her boss while going through the menopause.

Q. I started going through the menopause – though I didn’t realise what my symptoms were at first – and told my boss that I was having health issues and was feeling overwhelmed with work.

He put me on a PIP (performance improvement plan) and, despite occupational health advising him I was menopausal, I was dismissed, which was devastating.

I’ve now started to feel better after being prescribed the correct dose of HRT and want to get back to work, but I feel battered by what has happened. Do you have any advice?

Amanda, via email

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A. When many women start experiencing symptoms of the menopause, they don’t realise what they are.

We’ve all heard about hot flushes and night sweats, but less well known effects are low mood, anxiety and problems with memory and concentration. Almost 1 million women in the UK have quit their jobs due to the menopause*, and three in five women are negatively affected at work because of it** – frightening statistics considering women make up more than half of the population.

I’m sorry to hear your company didn’t support you through it, but 

I am pleased that HRT is working for you. Now you’re ready to get back to work, you need to rebuild your confidence. Consider doing online courses to refresh your knowledge, then update your CV.

Create a LinkedIn profile and follow people, industries and companies that you admire, plus change your status to “open to opportunities”.

Finally, remind yourself of all your skills, experience and why you will be an asset to a new company. Positivity and confidence are important qualities any future employer will be looking for.

A day in the life of…

Former Team GB athlete Kike Oniwinde, 29, lives in London and is the founder and CEO of the BYP (Black Young Professionals) Network, a digital platform connecting black professionals and corporations.

I get up at…

8am – I’m not part of the 5am work club! I’m nocturnal so I go to sleep around 1am, maybe 2am if I have a lot on my mind. 

My typical day involves…

I spend half an hour in bed checking and deleting emails. Once I’m showered and dressed, I go for a short walk to grab a Pret coffee before tackling bigger items in my inbox. I employ 15 staff so the day tends to start with internal meetings. We help organisations attract, engage, recruit and retain black talent from our 60,000-plus-strong network across the globe and I’ll often help with sales calls to secure new partners, as well as sending personal emails to the network and creating new products. I tend to skip breakfast and have been eating healthily recently, so for lunch it is chicken or fish with veg. In the afternoon, I’ll have meetings about potential community collaborations. Right now I’m preparing for our BYP Leadership Conference, which is being supported by the likes of Google, Amex and Goldman Sachs.

The best part of my job is…

Receiving thanks when the BYP Network finds someone an opportunity or inspires them is amazing. I launched the business after the 2016 Black Lives Matter events, and while 

it’s hard being CEO and founder as well as growing the business, being appreciated for the work we do is so rewarding.

The worst part of my job is…

When a business partner is unresponsive or an employee doesn’t deliver, it’s hard not to feel as if I didn’t do my own part effectively. But I’ve learned to take negative moments as an opportunity for myself and the business to learn and grow.

I wind down by…

I close my laptop no later than 7pm. I had to pause my javelin career after a shoulder injury, but now I go to the gym most evenings. It’s so good for de-stressing. Once I’ve showered, made some food and FaceTimed my boyfriend in Manchester, I’ll listen to something on Audible before heading to bed.

For more info on the BYP Network, visit Byp-network.com.

Got a careers question you want Karren to answer? Email [email protected].

Compiled by: Claire Frost & Gemma Calvert

Sources: *Bupa **CIPD 

Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice

  • Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.

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