Instead of foos­ball tables or fruit boxes in the big com­munity kit­chen, how about free tam­pons or pads in the restrooms of mod­ern com­pan­ies? Efforts to increase the well-being and inclu­sion of all employ­ees should not stop at the topic of men­stru­ation – even though the period taboo at work is still run­ning deep. That’s why we like to dis­cuss whether we need a period-friendly cor­por­ate cul­ture (spoiler: yes, we do!) and what the future of men­stru­ation at the work­place should look like.

What we can do to coun­ter­act the period taboo at work

Today we will con­tinue with five tips for design­ing a period-friendly work envir­on­ment, to fight against the period taboo at work. Because we believe that men­stru­ation and an inclus­ive cor­por­ate cul­ture should ideally go hand in hand.

1. Period edu­ca­tion for all

Due to incom­plete edu­ca­tion and aware­ness in the field of men­stru­ation, there is often a lack of know­ledge. This, among other things, leads to the period taboo at work. In order to coun­ter­act this ignor­ance, it is import­ant to improve the col­lect­ive level of know­ledge about peri­ods and men­strual health in the com­pany. All employ­ees should be suf­fi­ciently informed about men­stru­ation. Physiolo­gical and sociocul­tural aspects of men­stru­ation must also be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion. Per­haps work­shops with the award of a ‘men­strual cer­ti­fic­ate’ could be a start? In the end, all are cer­ti­fied (co-)menstruants!

2. Cycle aware­ness as superpower

Even though the men­strual cycle is a key pro­cess in our body, the under­stand­ing of it is very often lim­ited, dis­tor­ted or non-exist­ent. How­ever, get­ting to know and under­stand­ing our own men­strual cycle and how it affects our phys­ical, emo­tional or social per­form­ance can help us develop our full poten­tial. The secret to well-being, suc­cess and sat­is­fac­tion for men­stru­at­ing people lies in the rhythm of the men­strual cycle. This may sound almost eso­teric, but it can be veri­fied by hor­mones. To also incor­por­ate the men­strual cycle as a super­power into the busi­ness world is a revolu­tion­ary approach! Every­where where men­stru­at­ing people are work­ing, there will also be men­strual cycles. A quick glance at the next team meet­ing can quickly show you how cyc­lical your work­ing envir­on­ment really is. Regard­less of whether we want to admit it or not, the men­strual cycle plays an import­ant part in business.

Work­shops for increased cycle awareness

For greater cycle aware­ness it is import­ant to track one’s own cycle and to be able to con­sciously per­ceive changes in the body (such as mood or energy levels). And to then integ­rate these into the every­day life. Com­pan­ies can for example offer work­shops for more cycle aware­ness. In this con­text, edu­ca­tion about the eco­lo­gical value of (cycle) mind­ful­ness is of great importance.

3. Men­strual goodies

When restrooms are equipped with free period products, the first step has been accom­plished. Now how about some more ‘men­strual good­ies’? A few hot water bottles branded with the com­pany logo or sus­tain­able period products can be a good idea. Paink­illers or (relax­ing) teas can also help to relieve  men­strual pain.

4. A place to rest in the office

Ideally, the office space should be equipped in such a way that employ­ees can with­draw or change their work­ing sta­tion, if neces­sary. Per­haps an extra (break) room with a com­fort­able couch or height-adjustable desks at work? Not only while men­stru­at­ing can a quiet space for employ­ees increase the well-being of all.

5. Loosened dress code

Some­times even a pair of more com­fort­able pants or our favor­ite sweater can work won­ders when we don’t feel too great. The accept­ance of sit­ting at the desk with a hot water bottle is also an import­ant step towards a period-friendly work­place and fight­ing against the period taboo at work.

Peri­ods and cor­por­ate cul­ture: What really matters.

When men­stru­ation is part of the cor­por­ate cul­ture, there is an import­ant basic rule to fol­low: No gender-spe­cific meas­ures, please. Often it is pre­cisely the well-inten­tioned meas­ures that ulti­mately harm this par­tic­u­lar ‘group of people’. Because we live in a world where true equal­ity has unfor­tu­nately not yet been achieved. It is prob­ably a step in the wrong dir­ec­tion to draw expli­cit atten­tion to gender dif­fer­ences and intro­duce ‘spe­cial reg­u­la­tions’ only for men­stru­at­ing people. Recog­niz­ing the needs of men­stru­at­ing people (and other ‘groups’) is key. The cor­por­ate cul­ture for all employ­ees must then be designed in such a way that spe­cific needs are adequately addressed. If the work­place ensures safe and healthy work­ing con­di­tions for all, this should include guidelines for a period-friendly cor­por­ate cul­ture as well. Period at work is there­fore a part of the big­ger pic­ture. No more, no less.

What are your best tips for com­bat­ing the period taboo at work?

Do you have any tips on how to effect­ively integ­rate peri­ods into the cor­por­ate cul­ture? What would make your work­day easier dur­ing your period? Feel free to share your ideas or hopes with us! And tell us about your exper­i­ences with the period taboo at work. We are look­ing for­ward to dis­cuss­ing with you and devel­op­ing new ideas together.

Illus­tra­tion by Mag­dalena Otterstedt / Kop­füber Design for Vulvani

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Britta 
Co-Founder Vul­vani | britta@vulvani.com | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-founder of Vul­vani. She loves research­ing, writ­ing and design­ing new art­icles or innov­at­ive edu­ca­tional con­cepts about men­stru­ation all day long. When she is not trav­el­ling the world, she enjoys spend­ing time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.