The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias and we’re using the day to champion period dignity & equality in the workplace.
The stigma and silence around periods in the workplace can impact the comfort, productivity, and wellbeing of employees. From getting caught short at work to struggling with period pains that disrupt the workday – these are all real experiences that are happening everyday across the UK, and globally.
We recently asked our community what they thought a business would need to provide to be considered a Period Positive workplace. Here’s what we found out:
Free Period Care Available in Bathrooms
We learned from our survey that over 70% of people had been caught short by their period at work and not had products available to them. 82% of our respondents said that for a workplace to be considered Period Positive, they would expect there to be a provision of period products easily accessible to save them from the stress of this situation.
We’re proud to be working with forward-thinking, period positive workplaces and universities across the UK that provide our sustainable period products to their employees and students in communal bathrooms. If you want to find out more about our Workplace Scheme, you can learn more here.
Menstrual Wellbeing Policies
68% of our survey respondents said that they would expect a Period Positive Workplace to have Menstrual Wellbeing Policies in place. These ensure clear support and management systems are in place for menstrual and reproductive health conditions. They could include flexible working options, or menstrual health-related absence which is considered as separate to ‘sickness’ absence.
Menstrual wellbeing policies would ensure that employees know what support is available to them and how to access it. These would make sure that managers receive the right training to understand their role in providing appropriate support.
Flexible Working Options
Since the start of the pandemic, most organisations now offer more flexibility when it comes to employees working from home. For many, being able to work from home during their period allows for them to prioritise comfort and more easily manage menstrual pain and other symptoms of PMS.
“Moving from an in-person role to a remote role has had a really positive impact on my period wellbeing at work. I suffer from migraines and dizziness and always used to struggle to get through the day. Now working from home, I can do simple things like use a hot water bottle and take care of myself whilst still working in my own time.”
Education and Awareness
Improved education and better awareness are key to breakdown the stigma and taboo that has long surrounded periods, especially in the workplace. Open and inclusive conversations about something that is totally natural and normal will help break the silence and shame felt by so many.
Bringing in professionals to provide educational events and resources about periods and menstrual health will bring better understanding and greater empathy from everyone in your organisation. A menstrual cycle is so much more than “the bleed”. Increased knowledge around the broad range of PMS symptoms and menstrual disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is needed to build a Period Positive workplace and create a generally nicer and safer place for employees to thrive.
Pain remedies or relief available
In our survey, we asked if period related pain or discomfort had ever impacted our respondents’ working day – over 93% said yes! Often downplayed, period pain can be severe and debilitating for some, especially those with menstrual health conditions such as Endometriosis. John Guillebaud, professor of reproductive health at University College London told Quartz that his patients have often described their cramping pains as “almost as bad as having a heart attack.” But stigma in the workplace can mean that people are suffering this extreme pain in silence, expected to get on with work as normal.
Our survey respondents felt that to a more Period Positive workplace, there should be easy access to pain relief when needed. More open conversations about period pain will help organisations better respond and support those suffering.
To get started on building a period positive workplace, discover our Period Dignity Workplace Scheme.