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From the Desk of Nichola Adams

Women in the Workplace – IWD 2023

As a female founder of a female led and run business, I am proud to celebrate International Women’s Day, and embrace the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women all around the world. It is a day to recognise our unique contribution, and give thanks to the continuing movement towards greater gender representation, diversity and equity in the corporate world.

As the mother to a young adult daughter, the improvements that we are making and the increased level of awareness of women’s requirements both in the workplace and out have been hugely encouraging. However, it still astounds me that there is only recently a move towards training doctors on how to deal with women’s specific medical needs.

As an expert ergonomist, there is still a long way to go and much more that we can do in the workplace to achieve gender equity and therefore equality.

Specific issues I see in the workplace include those struggling with:

  1. Female specific issues such as
  • Menopause
  • Endometriosis
  • Pregnancy

2. New parent (sleep deprivation for primary care givers)

3. Stress, including specific challenges such as

  • Being a primary care giver for either dependent children or ageing parents
  • Sexism
  • Inappropriate behaviour from male colleagues
  • Restricted career opportunities

These are all issues, that I have either experienced personally or are ones that close family members have.

However, I am pleased to witness increasing levels of awareness in the workplace in providing the relevant support and targeting inappropriate behaviour, but there are still many women struggling silently, or just not receiving the support they need either in or out of work.

Yet, simple changes can make an enormous difference on things like:

  1. Stress levels and feelings of being supported
  2. The ability to cope with workload
  3. Pain and discomfort
  4. Productivity

These include, to name just a few:

  1. Support for hybrid working (which has greatly increased since covid)
  2. Discussing changes with your workforce to increase adoption of these or highlight specific challenges before the changes are implemented as well as identify improvements
  3. Flexible working hours
  4. Reasonable adjustments to workstations (which can help with all female specific conditions listed above)
  5. Encouragement to take movement breaks or indeed power naps during the day (I know as a young mother, and again during menopause, the enormous difference that a 20 minute power nap can make on the ability to work productively through the day)
  6. Workshops on Ergonomics, nutrition, lifestyle (providing simple tips on improving wellbeing and reducing risk of back pain and ill health)
  7. Ergonomics education on how to proactively look after your own physical health in the workplace
  8. Encouraging a culture of inclusion, open communication and support

Whilst the above can also be applied when it comes to the male counterpart, women have had to fight much harder in the workplace and society in general to be seen, heard and listened to. In healthcare, several strides are still needed to be made in order for women to get access to the treatment and support needed. In other major industries such as engineering and science, the percentage of workers is still heavily male dominated, and women counterparts often have to fight harder for their place.

As an ergonomist we know that if we improve the design of work for one sector of society, whether it be for a physical disability, neurodiversity or gender, there are benefits for the wider population, either directly or indirectly.  What enhances work for women will enhance work for all, especially in areas where we are not alone in our challenges.  This is the message we bring to all of the clients we work with.

Nichola Adams

Founder of Inspired Ergonomics

Nichola Adams, MSc Health Ergonomics, Tech CIEHF, ACPOHE Reg Member, is the Founder of Inspired Ergonomics.

Nichola is a specialist in back pain disorders in the workplace. Inspired Ergonomics regularly provides consultancy services to leading UK and International companies on how to reduce and prevent back pain in the workplace as well as working with rehabilitation companies.

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