Life at PepsiCo

Empowering women: Health care for all life stages

Swirl pattern

Fostering open conversations and education about navigating perimenopause and menopause is one way PepsiCo is expanding health resources for women.

Two years ago, Jeni Lockhart, a Customer Management Director at PepsiCo, began to notice significant changes in her life.

Weight gain, brain fog and mood swings left her feeling at a loss and frustrated. As a professional working in a dynamic corporate environment, Jeni felt their impact acutely.

“I found myself struggling on video calls,” she recalls. “My mental capabilities weren’t what they used to be. I didn’t understand what was happening — it was scary.”

Searching for answers

When Lockhart consulted her doctor, she was told to exercise more and eat less.

“I wasn’t satisfied with that answer,” she says. “I went home and started to research what could be happening to me.”

What she found was a treasure trove of information from reputable sources like the Mayo Clinic and the University of Chicago. This helped Lockhart put words to her symptoms and understand her condition better.

Perimenopause: A hidden transition

Lockhart’s symptoms were not uncommon, but they’re often misunderstood and underdiagnosed.

Perimenopause, the transitional stage leading to menopause, is a time of significant physical and emotional change for women. This transformative phase, which typically spans eight to 10 years, often hits between the ages of 35 and 45, and it can result in a variety of symptoms.

Yet many women may know little about it. Nearly half of the women in one survey had no knowledge of how perimenopause differs from menopause before they experienced it themselves.

Many health care providers are not even trained to recognize the symptoms for what they are. In fact, just 20% of OB-GYN residency programs provide any menopause-specific training. As a result, perimenopause is frequently misdiagnosed as other conditions, including depression, anxiety and hypothyroidism.

Lockhart’s doctor prescribed a low-dose form of birth control to regulate her estrogen levels. “Within two months, I noticed dramatic changes,” she says. “But I understand it’s an ongoing process. I’m going to continue to evolve and have conversations with my doctor.”

PepsiCo: Prioritizing women’s health

PepsiCo’s commitment to supporting associates goes beyond conventional corporate practices.

Jeni Chih, a Senior Director of Total Rewards at PepsiCo, emphasizes this point: “We want to lead the way in thinking about our people holistically.”

Women’s health, then, isn’t just about fertility benefits; it’s about acknowledging the different stages of a woman’s life and providing the necessary support.

One crucial aspect of doing so is building an inclusive community. “People are looking for connection,” Chih says. Recently, for example, thousands of women participated in a PepsiCo webinar on menopause.

Employee resource groups like Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) help amplify concerns and the need for solutions.

“PepsiCo meets women where they are,” Lockhart says. “This goes beyond webinars. Employee resource groups like Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) help amplify concerns and the need for solutions and perimenopausal benefits.”

Today, U.S.-based associates experiencing perimenopause or menopause can utilize their Health ACE to connect with in-network providers and specialists. “I was very empowered knowing that my benefits allowed me to choose any doctor I wanted,” Lockhart says. “PepsiCo’s benefits allowed me to choose my destiny in this situation. I also had the ability to look around and find the least expensive option for my prescription.”

We take the guesswork
out of finding where to
get help

Chih echoes this sentiment. “I experienced medically induced menopause before I was biologically ready,” she says. “I was able to easily navigate my way through the medical system through PepsiCo’s network and leadership.”

In addition to finding in-network doctors, PepsiCo gives associates free access to Bloom, a HIPAA-compliant pelvic-health care platform, as well as Spring Health, which offers personalized mental health support, and meQuilibrium (meQ), a self-paced resilience-building program. “Mental health is everything,” Chih says. “Through these programs, we take the guesswork out of finding where to get help, since they’re readily available where you are.”

Empowering women through open conversations

Being open and transparent about your health at work can come with complicated emotions — especially with topics that have historically been stigmatized or ignored. “The idea of going to a male manager and talking about perimenopause can be scary,” Lockhart says. “That can potentially be a conversation that women aren’t even comfortable having with their spouses.”

Be brave in this space.

Her advice? “Be brave in this space,” she says. “Be your own advocate. If you’re experiencing symptoms like brain fog, mood swings and sleeplessness, those are things that can potentially impact your work. You need to tell people how they can better support you.”

Chih agrees. “Part of self-care is being able to have that conversation so you can ask for what you need,” Chih says. “We have resources — whether it’s Spring Health, meQ, Cleo or ERGs — to help you have those conversations.”

Associates are invited to share as much or as little as they’d like. However, Lockhart emphasizes the need to talk about menopause in the workplace. “Fifty percent of us go through this,” she says. “If we build up more empathetic leaders, they’re more likely to help us be successful and feel supported.”

In the end, embracing open conversations and building understanding around women’s health is not a corporate initiative; it’s a global step toward a more empathetic and supportive future where everyone has space to thrive.