The balance of women in senior positions in the work place is finally starting to shift a little, as the ‘lean in’ practices of women following Sheryl Sandberg’s great advice, (which I talk about in an earlier blog post… start to take effect.

However, over a breakfast meeting with a client a couple of weeks ago, I was talking about some of the problems women in his company seem to be facing, in all levels of the corporate workplace, around their lack of self-esteem and their lack of stress coping strategies, which he said was sometimes manifesting itself in eating disorders and not only women.  This may be as a result of using binge eating to cope with stress; eating foods high in sugar and fat (which can release dopamine and thus result in a temporary feeling of euphoria).  Whilst this can help with a feeling of short term escape from stress, binge eating is a serious eating disorder.  It is a similar pattern with those who turn to alcohol to deal with stress.  For some, following the high comes the guilt of having eaten these unhealthy foods, then regret in the ever-present pressure to look good as a successful business women, and this in turn can lead to purging the food – bulimia or starvation.

Businesses need to be aware of these behaviours going on in offices around the country, because they are a red warning sign of a corporate or even industry culture that is putting both women and men in a place risking their mental health.

So what can companies do?  There are many programmes and strategies businesses can engage with to help to deal with these improving staff wellbeing in the work place – not just the extreme example listed above.  Such programmes include team and one to one coaching, to work on developing tailored strategies that work to build self-esteem and to cope with stress.  Other initiatives include bringing meditation, yoga and other exercise sessions into the work place; just a few minutes every day can make a huge difference in the office.  There are mentor programmes that are fantastic if carefully planned and managed – and for those CFOs concerned about the P&L account, these programmes improve productivity – both of individuals and teams – and the benefits far outweigh the costs.

If you would like to discuss your company’s needs and design a programme to suit supporting you to support your people, please get in touch.



For serious cases of individuals with mental health issues and eating disorders, professional medical help should be sort following the company’s HR policies.