Breaking the Silence

Mar 11, 2024 | Life & Living

As the founder of Inspire Me PR, my mission has always been clear: to inspire and uplift women, to amplify their voices, and to create positive change in the world. Throughout my journey as a broadcast journalist and now as a PR consultant, I’ve had the privilege of working with incredible women from all walks of life. Yet, amidst the triumphs and successes, there is a topic that often remains shrouded in silence in professional environments: the journey of infertility and IVF.

Let me start by saying that I haven’t experienced IVF personally. However, in my line of work, I’ve had the privilege of hearing from numerous women who’ve generously shared their IVF journeys with me. Their stories have shed light on the workplace hurdles they face during fertility treatments, and their courage has truly inspired me.”

The statistics are alarming: A survey by Fertility Network UK revealed that nearly 9 out of 10 individuals experience reduced productivity due to fertility issues, with over one-third receiving minimal to no support from their employers. Additionally, 38.8% of respondents considered leaving their jobs due to fertility treatment, and 15.8% ultimately resigned or experienced significant role changes.

The fear of stigma and discrimination often leads women to keep their fertility struggles hidden, fearing that speaking out could impact their job security or career advancement. Yet, amidst this fear, there are stories of hope and inspiration—stories like that of Polly Vincent, the visionary entrepreneur behind Enhance Cosmetic Clinic in Pakefield, Lowestoft.

Polly’s dedication to fostering an inclusive and supportive workplace culture is truly commendable. When her senior PMU artist, Amber Marie Allen, embarked on her IVF journey, Polly showed unwavering support by ensuring Amber had the time she needed to focus solely on her treatment. This compassionate approach reflects Polly’s commitment to prioritising the well-being of her team, setting a meaningful example for employers everywhere.

Polly Vincent, who also serves as a columnist for Places and Faces, shared, “Supporting my team through their personal challenges is a top priority for me. I believe that by providing understanding and flexibility, we can create a positive and empowering work environment.”

Amber, the senior PMU artist at Enhance Cosmetic Clinic, expressed her gratitude, saying, “Polly’s support during my IVF journey was exceptional. Knowing that my employer valued my well-being and supported my decision to prioritise my health and family was incredibly comforting and made a huge difference to my IVF journey.”

I’ve heard stories from women who feel compelled to lie about their IVF appointments, fearing judgement from their employers. This unfortunate reality underscores the lingering stigma and fear of judgement many women encounter in professional settings when navigating fertility struggles. They fear that revealing their attempts to conceive may hinder their chances of promotion or lead to doubts about their mental capacity to work, or even the fear of being overlooked for opportunities. Additionally, there’s a desire to keep it private, especially if the treatment doesn’t go as planned and they don’t conceive, to protect themselves mentally.

Polly’s approach to employment extends beyond supporting women through their personal challenges. She champions employing mothers, recognising the valuable dynamic they bring to the team. She emphasises the multitasking abilities, empathy, and dedication that mothers contribute to the workplace. Polly’s inclusive approach is not only admirable but also serves as a beacon of hope for women navigating the complexities of work and family life.”

Additionally, it’s important to recognise the positive aspects of IVF. While the journey can be challenging, it also offers hope and the possibility of starting or expanding a family for many individuals and couples. IVF has enabled countless families to realise their dreams of parenthood, and it’s crucial to celebrate these successes alongside acknowledging the difficulties.

Amber’s journey with IVF is a testament to the positive impact of supportive workplaces. She shared, “Polly’s support during my IVF journey was exceptional. Knowing that my employer valued my well-being and supported my decision to prioritise my health and family was incredibly comforting. It allowed me to focus on my treatment without the added stress of work obligations.”

In conclusion, it’s crucial that we break the silence surrounding IVF in the workplace and foster a culture of empathy and understanding. By honouring businesses like Polly Vincent’s Enhance Cosmetic Clinic, we can pave the way for a future where every woman feels valued, supported, and empowered to thrive, both personally and professionally.

Let’s envision a future where all businesses prioritise the well-being of their employees, particularly concerning sensitive matters like IVF. Incorporating mindfulness practices can also contribute to a supportive work environment, promoting mental well-being and resilience among employees navigating fertility treatments.

For workplaces interested in learning more about how to support individuals undergoing fertility treatment, the Fertility Network offers valuable resources to help employers better understand the challenges and complexities involved.

For anyone affected by infertility or undergoing IVF, there are resources available to provide support and guidance. Organisations like Fertility Network UK offer a wealth of information and support services, and helplines such as the Fertility Network UK Support Line (0300 330 0700) are available for confidential support and advice.