Periods at work. You deserve to feel safe, comfortable and respected at your place of work at all times. Recent research is aiming to ensure that having a period doesn’t change this for anyone. Let’s dive into some aspects of the work environment that affect your period experience.
Is your workplace period-friendly?
Consider the bathroom situation:
- Are you allowed to use the bathroom whenever you need?
- So is it easy to access?
- Are there period products available in the restroom?
- So are the products free?
- Is there an easy and safe way to dispose of period products?
- So is the bin in the individual cubicles?
Consider the social atmosphere
- Would you be comfortable discussing your period with coworkers?
- So what if you were overheard talking about it?
- Would you be comfortable telling your manager or boss that you need extra bathroom breaks or time off due to your period?
- Would they allow that?
- Are there coworkers that react or joke negatively about periods?
- So does anyone say or act sexist?
Now imagine this…
You work somewhere that has free period products in every bathroom. Your boss lets you arrange your schedule to best fit with your menstrual cycle. For example, do you have bad cramps on day 1 and 2? You get those days off or can work from home. Do you feel extra confident on day 14? Let’s schedule your presentation for that day! You know that none of your coworkers will judge or tease you about any aspect of the menstrual cycle. In fact, everyone is supportive and open to discussing mental and physical wellbeing in general.
Doesn’t that sound great? That’s somewhere I’d love to work. I would likely develop strong loyalty, feel individually appreciated, and work hard. Win-win situation, right? So…
Why don’t workplaces already function like this?
As many things are in our society, work schedules are typically structured on male body needs and limitations (Owens, 2018, p. 25). Restructuring the workplace would still need to consider employees that don’t menstruate. How would a period policy affect them? We have to make sure that a period policy doesn’t negatively affect anyone or reinforce stigmas that women are the weaker sex (Hill, 2019, p. 75). That’s a hard balance to find.
Time to Talk about Periods at Work
It’s going to take time to find a good solution for everyone. So for now, it’s important to talk. Companies that aim to become more period-friendly need to be open to discussing it with their employees. That way, solutions can be developed together to best suit everyone. Overall, this open communication about physical and mental wellbeing will benefit all employees, not just those who menstruate. (Owens, 2018, p. 27-28).
Stop the Stigma
Unfortunately, menstrual stigmas still impact all parts of life, even work. We can change that, but we have to actively work for it. Therefore, by recognizing how your workplace does or does not support menstrual wellbeing, you can advocate for improvements. Menstruation isn’t a limitation, but sometimes our environment limits our ability to adequately care for ourselves. Let’s work together to change workplace environments to be period-friendly.
Periods at Work Sources
Clancy, K. (2018). Bleeding at work (No. 22). [Audio podcast episode]. In Period with Kate Clancy. Creative Commons. Season 2 Episode 22: Bleeding at work | Kathryn B. H. Clancy, PhD (kateclancy.com).
Hill, M. (2019). Period Power. Green Tree.
Owen, L. (2018). Menstruation & humanistic management: The development and implementation of a menstrual workplace policy. Journal of the Association of Management Education and Development 25(4)23-31. (PDF) Menstruation & humanistic management: The development and implementation of a menstrual workplace policy (researchgate.net)
Menstrual Policy. (2017). Victorian Women’s Trust. Menstrual and Menopause Wellbeing Policy – Victorian Women’s Trust (vwt.org.au)
Written by Morgan Ludington
March 7, 2021
Edited by Lilypads
Photo by Morgan Ludington (if used)