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Destigmatising Menstruation at Work: Steps Towards Inclusion

6th Dec 2023

Periods remain shrouded in secrecy and shame in too many workplaces worldwide. But forward-thinking companies are taking action to become "period positive" – creating understanding environments where employees feel safe and confident managing their menstrual health.

"Ultimately period positive workplaces result in improved employee wellbeing, reduced absences, enhanced company culture and from an outsider’s perspective, a better public image too."

- Lucy Lettice Cohen

Lucy, Founder of sustainable period brand &SISTERS by Mooncup, joined us for a workshop to explore tangible ways to promote period consciousness at work. Some alarming stats reveal why change is overdue:

  • 4 in 10 people use tampons longer than advised due to feeling unable to ask a colleague for one.
  • 6 in 10 people in the UK don’t have access to period care at work.
  • A survey of 2,000 Brits, revealed that while 26% took leave during their period, 36% gave reasons such as the flu, a cold, or a stomach bug to their employers.
  • The same study found that 46% would feel uncomfortable taking a tampon out of their desk drawer in front of a colleague.
Beyond individual discomfort and causing people to take time off work, period shaming also has an impact on productivity, retention, public image, and the ability for a company to attract diverse talent. On the flip side, providing menstrual support helps enhance culture, wellbeing, and employer brand.

"A member of our team told us she bled through her underwear at a previous job because no period care was provided and she was too nervous to ask a busy colleague."

- Lucy Lettice Cohen

What steps can you take right now in your workplace to start your journey to becoming a period conscious workplace: 

  1. Offer free period products in bathrooms

If toilet paper is free, so should tampons and pads be. This simple step brings huge progress towards normalisation.

  1. Appoint a “period advocacy champion”

Self-nominated employees help bust taboos through education and open conversations, bridging gaps between staff and management.

  1. Conduct an audit on existing inclusion
Analyse if the current workplace environment and policies meet menstrual needs – from pain relief resources to flexible hours. Make improvements accordingly. Are products easily accessible and do your team feel comfortable asking for these if not?

Some longer-term strategies to consider include:

  • Nuanced menstrual leave allowances
  • Building awareness of menstrual cycles and their impacts
  • Leveraging virtual health resources like meditation, yoga
  • Promoting reproductive wellbeing spanning periods to menopause

Destigmatising menstruation liberates employees to thrive every day of the month. Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach – but simple changes by caring companies can make work far more inclusive.