On average, women and people who menstruate lose 36 days a year due to period related issues. For those with severely debilitating periods, and for the one in ten sufferers of endometriosis, the figure was revealed to be much higher.
Periods are still a heavily stigmatised topic in the workplace. Often, people will leave work due to painful cramps, dizziness, and the other period symptoms we know and love. But most of the time they will make up an excuse instead of saying the real reason they need to leave or work from home that day.
Let's face it - in most offices, bringing up a period and talking about your menstrual cycle is awkward and uncomfortable. And it's about time this changed. With 47% of the workforce being made up of people who menstruate, it's time we started normalising periods in the workplace.
Periods are a natural, monthly process that nearly half the workforce goes through each month - and period products are a necessary hygiene product, and should be available for free just like soap and toilet paper.
1. It shows your employees you care
According to Bloody Good Period, 9 in 10 people with a menstrual cycle have encountered feelings of stress and anxiety due to their period. Access to period products is crucial for the health and wellbeing of employees who menstruate. By providing period products, offices show a commitment to supporting the physical and emotional needs of their employees. It shows a commitment to creating a comfortable and inclusive workplace environment for everyone.
2. It makes things a lot less disruptive
Did you know that 86% of women have started their period at work without having the necessary products at hand? Not having period products when and where you need them can cause anxiety, embarrassment, and disruptions in the workday. We all know that feeling when you're mid-meeting and may or may not have come on your period.
By having readily available period products in the office, employees don't have to worry about carrying or purchasing them separately. They don't have to worry about that emergency run to the nearest pharmacy. Providing your employees with period products shows a commitment to menstrual equity, the belief that no-one in the world should be negatively affected or held back by their period.
3. It helps create an inclusive workforce
Periods are normal and something that so many people go through. And yet, we've experienced firsthand how women and people who menstruate feel worried that talking about menstruation shows them to be weaker and less capable than their male counterparts despite a period being a natural, bodily function.
Providing period products recognises the needs of employees who menstruate and fosters an inclusive environment. It shows that your workplace values the diverse experiences and bodily functions of all of it's employees. This is essential in creating a culture that's inclusive.
4. It opens up the conversation about periods and reproductive health as a whole
Post-pandemic period support is more important than ever. In a survey run by The Bloody Good Employers, 63% of women said that normalising the topic of periods in the workplace would make them feel more supported. The addition of having sanitary products in the office would help normalise conversations about periods, and generally help to open up important conversations about reproductive health or other areas that may typically be off-limits in the workplace.
5. It helps fight period poverty
On average, a woman in the UK will spend £492 a year on her period, reaching up to £4,800 spanning her entire lifetime. This can cause a sizeable financial strain on those who menstruate, making it increasingly harder to get access to the necessary products. By providing free period products, companies are joining the fight against period poverty. This action would solidify their commitment to their employees and their health, especially among low-income staff.
6. It promotes gender equality
Gender equality is defined as people of all genders having equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities. By supplying period products, offices are contributing to gender equality in the workplace and the fight against the 'period gap' felt by those with menstrual cycles. Offices should acknowledge the unique challenges faced by women and people who menstruate, and help remove potential barriers that may hinder their professional success.
In the end, this is about breaking down the social barriers in the office, fostering an inclusive environment, and making those who menstruate feel supported in the workplace. So what can you do as an employer? You can start by dropping off some period products in your office’s bathroom as a of test run to see how people respond to it. Speak with your menstruating coworkers and see how they feel about the issue, see which products they prefer.
At Fertifa, our mission is to make reproductive healthcare more accessible for everyone, and we encourage others to do the same. By supplying period products in offices, employers demonstrate their commitment to creating an inclusive, supportive, and gender-equal work environment 💜