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Women's Healthcare Q1 2024

How the women’s health gap is costing you and your business

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Anton Vierietin

Rebecca Baldwin

Portfolio Director, Women’s Health Innovation Series

Unlock a 1 trillion-dollar opportunity by addressing the women’s health gap. Learn how investment in women’s health improves lives and boosts global economies.

The impact of the extensive lack of research and investment in women’s health is finally being understood and quantified on a global scale. A January report from the McKinsey Health Institute estimates that ‘women spend 25% more time in poor health than men’ as a result of the sex and gender inequities in research, diagnosis, treatment and care.

This ‘gap’ has a cost to the quality of life and life expectancy of women, as well as workforces, communities, and families globally. Addressing the women’s health gap presents an astonishing 1 trillion-dollar annual opportunity for the global economy.

Economic impact of women’s health gap

Almost half the health burden and impact McKinsey identifies is of women in working age (20–64). Before the pandemic, we may not have thoroughly considered the impact of health on economic productivity. The events since 2020 spotlighted the intricate link, revealing how women’s higher likelihood of ill health hinders economic participation and productivity. This includes direct absences and ‘presenteeism’ — an inability to show up as your ‘best self’ at work due to poor health.

Addressing menopause to support workforces

One area that demonstrates this impact for women and businesses in the UK is menopause and perimenopause. Menopause affects 100% of women, has over 40 known symptoms and can be felt for over 15 years. With little support, solutions and ongoing stigma surrounding this life stage, menopause represents a high unmet need.

Peppy, a disruptive health benefits provider for employers, cites that 59% of women have taken time off work due to menopause symptoms, and a staggering 1 in 10 leave their jobs. As women of menopausal age become the fastest-growing demographic in the UK workforce, it’s a priority for businesses to address — minimising productivity losses and securing top talent.

Collaborative effort and business benefit

Efforts to close the women’s health gap are gaining momentum, not only from private sector businesses and investors but also from governments and the public sector. It will take the efforts of everybody to close this gap.

For businesses — however big or small — prioritising access, breaking taboos, offering support and flexibility and allowing women to bring their best selves to work will have an enormous impact on employee health, culture, talent opportunities and bottom line.

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