Closing the Gender Pain Gap
Ashtons Legal is proud to have signed up to be an Endometriosis Friendly Employer following a suggestion by a staff member, and someone living with the condition, Jessica Hitchcock.
In conjunction with Endometriosis UK, Endometriosis Friendly Employers are able to keep informed and pledge to support employees who have this condition, whilst donating to the charity and funding their research for a cure.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Symptoms include intense pain and it can cause infertility.
March is Endometriosis Awareness month so here, Jessica is happy to share her story as follows:
“I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2011. The same year I would lose the career I had begun in nursing, and my place at University, because they said I would “never be fit enough to work”.
Doctors agreed with that opinion, and as I scanned through forums full of the millions of women diagnosed with the condition, I could see almost all of them had been told they had the same fate, if not worse. I couldn’t accept that my future could suddenly be so bleak, so I instead diverted my attention to ways that the lives of those suffering could be improved.
In 2019, the BBC conducted research revealing the devastating effect of endometriosis. Half the women who took part said they had experienced suicidal thoughts, relied heavily on highly addictive painkillers and that the painful condition had badly affected their education and career, just like me.
This triggered a debate in the House of Commons that October. The research highlighted that endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK, affecting one in 10 women and causing infertility in 30-50% of them, yet it takes an average of seven and a half years to be diagnosed, costing the UK economy £8.2bn a year in healthcare and loss of work. It was argued that this is not only an issue that needs to be recognised by the departments of health, education and work, but also by individual employers.
I am incredibly grateful to be part of Ashtons, a firm who are doing what I never imagined any employer would do. In colourful contrast to the general ill-understanding of most employers, Ashtons are not only recognising the difficulties faced by sufferers and supporting them, but they are encouraging those women to thrive in their careers, all whilst becoming a massive part of change and closing what has been labelled the “gender pain gap””.
Jessica will act as the firm’s Endometriosis Champion, a point of contact for signposting, support, and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Endometriosis Awareness Month takes place in March every year across the world to raise awareness of endometriosis. 1.5 million people in the UK are living with the condition.
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