Inno¬≠v¬≠a¬≠tive mea¬≠sures, new ini¬≠tia¬≠tives as well as sus¬≠tain¬≠able changes are needed to pro¬≠mote a change towards more open¬≠ness and accep¬≠tance of men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion within a cor¬≠po¬≠rate cul¬≠ture. From top man¬≠agers to employ¬≠ees, every¬≠one must work on this together. This process includes train¬≠ings to be more empa¬≠thetic when it comes to peri¬≠ods in the work¬≠place. The aim is to develop sim¬≠ple and cost-effec¬≠tive strate¬≠gies that have a pos¬≠i¬≠tive impact on employee sat¬≠is¬≠fac¬≠tion and loyalty.

Peri¬≠ods in the work¬≠place: Where and how can we start?

The first step towards a period-friendly cor¬≠po¬≠rate cul¬≠ture should be to con¬≠sciously include men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion in the work struc¬≠tures. This means includ¬≠ing the related men¬≠strual cycle as well. This goes hand in hand with the accep¬≠tance of the needs of men¬≠stru¬≠at¬≠ing peo¬≠ple. And thus the right to well-being at work for all. But what could such a con¬≠cept actu¬≠ally look like in today‚Äôs world? A men¬≠strual pol¬≠icy or period guide¬≠line would prob¬≠a¬≠bly be a good start. In the fol¬≠low¬≠ing we will explain which three aspects these should def¬≠i¬≠nitely include. Ready for a guide of mea¬≠sures for a period-friendly cor¬≠po¬≠rate culture?

1. Rein¬≠ter¬≠pre¬≠ta¬≠tion of periods

The rein¬≠ter¬≠pre¬≠ta¬≠tion peri¬≠ods and the result¬≠ing change of the neg¬≠a¬≠tive attri¬≠bu¬≠tions must be addressed together. The most impor¬≠tant thing is that every¬≠one puts aside their embar¬≠rass¬≠ment and fears of using the term men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion. And sim¬≠ply call it by their name: Period. Every¬≠one must feel com¬≠fort¬≠able talk¬≠ing about their men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion, even when they are at work. How¬≠ever, dis¬≠card¬≠ing shame does not hap¬≠pen by itself and espe¬≠cially not overnight. The nor¬≠mal¬≠i¬≠sa¬≠tion of peri¬≠ods includes, for exam¬≠ple, dis¬≠cus¬≠sions, edu¬≠ca¬≠tion and work¬≠shops. These are ways to pro¬≠mote not only period knowl¬≠edge but also more respect and inclu¬≠sion in the work¬≠place. All of a sud¬≠den the hid¬≠den prob¬≠lem is no longer so taboo and if it is talked about openly, new solu¬≠tions can be found together.

 2. Free period products

A period-friendly work¬≠ing envi¬≠ron¬≠ment starts with the equip¬≠ment of the toi¬≠let facil¬≠i¬≠ties. A basic require¬≠ment is that free period prod¬≠ucts are avail¬≠able in the toi¬≠lets (regard¬≠less of gen¬≠der) at all times and in suf¬≠fi¬≠cient quan¬≠tity. After all, access to men¬≠strual prod¬≠ucts is essen¬≠tial in order to be able to man¬≠age one‚Äôs peri¬≠ods with dig¬≠nity and to pro¬≠mote greater equal¬≠ity and accep¬≠tance. The avail¬≠abil¬≠ity of free period prod¬≠ucts is also a mea¬≠sure against period poverty, because not every¬≠one can afford period prod¬≠ucts. The sup¬≠ply of free prod¬≠ucts there¬≠fore also pro¬≠motes social par¬≠tic¬≠i¬≠pa¬≠tion and inclu¬≠sion of all. It is best to pro¬≠vide dif¬≠fer¬≠ent types of peri¬≠od¬≠i¬≠cal prod¬≠ucts, as some peo¬≠ple can¬≠not or do not want to use some prod¬≠ucts for med¬≠ical or reli¬≠gious rea¬≠sons. Dis¬≠pos¬≠able prod¬≠ucts are the first step. 

Reusable period prod­ucts and uni­sex toi­lets in the office?

How¬≠ever, it would also be desir¬≠able to con¬≠duct reg¬≠u¬≠lar sur¬≠veys on con¬≠sumer behav¬≠iour in order to be able to respond even bet¬≠ter to the needs of men¬≠stru¬≠at¬≠ing employ¬≠ees. Per¬≠haps sus¬≠tain¬≠able prod¬≠ucts, such as period under¬≠wear or men¬≠strual cups, could also be another idea. Run¬≠ning water, soap, toi¬≠let paper and waste bins for dis¬≠pos¬≠ing of dis¬≠pos¬≠able period prod¬≠ucts in all toi¬≠let cab¬≠ins should of course be avail¬≠able as well. How¬≠ever, this should actu¬≠ally be a given. A next step could also to con¬≠sider whether gen¬≠der-neu¬≠tral bath¬≠rooms are another way of achiev¬≠ing greater inclu¬≠sion within the com¬≠pany. Uni¬≠sex toi¬≠lets have become stan¬≠dard in pub¬≠lic trans¬≠port, such as trains or planes. So why not in the office?

3. Men¬≠strual flexibility

Flex¬≠i¬≠ble arrange¬≠ments in terms of places and times of work should be imple¬≠mented for all, if pos¬≠si¬≠ble. Say hello to remote work and flex¬≠itime! The pos¬≠si¬≠bil¬≠ity of work¬≠ing flex¬≠i¬≠bly, for exam¬≠ple to rest when men¬≠strual prob¬≠lems are more severe, can sig¬≠nif¬≠i¬≠cantly improve the work¬≠ing day of a men¬≠stru¬≠at¬≠ing per¬≠son. Some¬≠times it is enough just to be able to work from home in comfy pants (plus a hot water bot¬≠tle) or with longer breaks or to come into the office an hour later. A flex¬≠i¬≠ble work sched¬≠ule can be invalu¬≠able in such moments, as it allows employ¬≠ees to work more when they feel good and work less when they feel tired. If we lis¬≠ten to our body and take breaks when needed, we can recover more quickly (aka less men¬≠strual pain).

Cor­po­rate cul­ture of trust and self-determination

It is often pos¬≠si¬≠ble to avoid tak¬≠ing painkillers or alter¬≠na¬≠tively a whole sick day by chang¬≠ing the gen¬≠eral work con¬≠di¬≠tions and thus adapt¬≠ing to the (pos¬≠si¬≠bly slightly) changed phys¬≠i¬≠cal needs. Of course, there should always be the option to call in sick if period pain is too severe. The pos¬≠si¬≠bil¬≠ity to work more before or after the period also strength¬≠ens the employ¬≠ees in their self-deter¬≠mi¬≠na¬≠tion and takes away the shame of call¬≠ing in sick because of one‚Äôs period. In other words, this is a cor¬≠po¬≠rate cul¬≠ture of trust and self-deter¬≠mi¬≠na¬≠tion, where all the to-do‚Äôs are still done at the end of the month any¬≠way. Maybe just not dur¬≠ing the clas¬≠sic 9 am to 5 pm office hours from Mon¬≠day to Fri¬≠day. Depend¬≠ing on the job, it could also be help¬≠ful to take the men¬≠strual cycle into account when plan¬≠ning the work schedule.

Peri­ods in the work­place: What are your experiences?

What does the sit¬≠u¬≠a¬≠tion at your com¬≠pany look like? Is the period still not talked about? Or are there maybe already mea¬≠sures and ini¬≠tia¬≠tives to nor¬≠malise peri¬≠ods in the work¬≠place? If not, do you have any ideas on how to make your com¬≠pany more period-friendly? Feel free to share your expe¬≠ri¬≠ences and sug¬≠ges¬≠tions in the com¬≠ments below or send us a mes¬≠sage. We are look¬≠ing for¬≠ward dis¬≠cussing this topic fur¬≠ther with you.

Britta Wiebe, CEO, female founder, weibliche Gr√ľnderin, 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.