February 6, 2023
By Period Dignity Team
Free period products – it’s something people who menstruate have been campaigning for for ages. And now, in Scotland at least, that’s becoming a reality.
The Scottish government recently took a step forward for period equality by passing a law to ensure there’s access to free tampons and pads in bathrooms in schools, universities, leisure centres, libraries and more across the country.
Sadly, they weren’t as successful with their appointment of the first ever ‘Period Dignity Officer’ – but maybe choosing a cisgendered man for the role wasn’t the wisest of choices. Mansplaining periods? No thanks!
Still, the provision of free period products is good news and the benefits that the move has brought to communities across the country is inspiring many private businesses to follow suit.
Here’s why there’s a need for more to follow suit – and a really good business case for doing just that.
The (much ignored) problem with periods at work
As anyone who has had a period at work will know, there are all sorts of issues to contend with, from cramps and headaches to trying to sneak a tampon to the loo with you (even though we really shouldn’t have to be embarrassed about that).
Then there’s the fact that no one’s cycle is perfectly regular, so unexpected bleeding can happen at any time – leaving you stranded without supplies.
Because talking about periods is still taboo, it’s not always easy to ask a colleague for a tampon – especially if you work in a male-dominated environment. You could pop out to the shop but what if there isn’t one close by, or it only sells expensive, non-sustainable products?
What happens when you need to take time off?
For many, periods cause even greater challenges. A Bupa survey of 2,000 people who menstruate revealed that 23% have had to take time off work because of their period. Another 36% said they were embarrassed to share the real reason for taking time off.
The same research found that two thirds (67%) would rather have periods less than once a month and 34% would choose not to have them at all. The result? Using hormonal contraceptives to reduce or even stop their monthly bleeds.
While we’re not suggesting people shouldn’t have the choice to do this if they want to – and it can be really helpful for those who struggle with heavy periods or menstrual conditions – it doesn’t seem right that anyone should have to turn to medication just to avoid workplace awkwardness.
Here’s how you help employees beat period stress
Work can be stressful at the best of times. And as we’ve seen, when you’re also having to contend with the various challenges that come with being on your period, that’s only going to increase.
This stress can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health – which in turn makes us less effective employees. Stress has been shown to dampen our creativity, productivity and overall engagement at work. Plus it can lead to issues with our metabolism, memory and sleep, all of which also affect our ability to work well.
While employers can’t make periods go away, they can help reduce the stress caused by not having access to period products. Stocking these in office bathrooms has huge benefits for employees, which in turn benefits the business.
If you’re not convinced, perhaps consider how everyone would feel if we decided people should bring their own toilet roll and soap to work. Ridiculous, right?
We’ve got to start having better conversations
Providing period products at work is just the beginning. Forward thinking employers need to open up the conversation around periods in the same way that we’ve begun to talk more candidly about mental health challenges.
If we can make periods less taboo, we’ll begin to see where else we can be making small but significant changes that will support employees who menstruate, and help them feel better and work better.
Here are some other ideas for employers to consider:
- Develop policies that support employees who get periods
- Offer reasonable adjustments, such as flexible working, for those who suffer with period related pain
- Have clear systems in place for menstrual conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis
- Ensure that managers are informed about reproductive and menstrual health
Include menstrual health in your wider inclusion strategy
With the employment market like it is, and employees increasingly choosing new roles based as much – if not more – on values and culture as on money, this is not a subject businesses can afford to ignore.
How we’re helping the menstrual movement
At Grace & Green, we’ve created the Period Dignity project to empower people who menstruate in the workplace. Beyond championing free organic period products, Period Dignity is about educating and creating awareness by maintaining open and honest conversations around periods.
We’re encouraging people to make reproductive and menstrual health part of their wider diversity and inclusion strategies. Offering free period products demonstrates a commitment to supporting people who have periods. And it really doesn’t cost that much to implement.
Discover discounts for corporate subscriptions
Grace & Green offers discount pricing for corporate subscriptions to ensure that providing sustainable period products at work is an affordable option for health-conscious employers. We’re committed to challenging the status quo of period conversations. If you’re ready to join us, get in touch.