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