Menstruation really does matter in the workplace – Period
Every individual should feel at ease talking about periods; however, it is reality that many who menstruate have feelings of embarrassment and shame. Research by DPG shows that almost half (48%) of Employees who experience periods said there is a noticeable stigma in the company they work for.
In our article we are taking a look at why stigma exists, and what you can do as an Employer to support your team.
Is there really stigma in the workplace?
In our opinion, the answer to this is an overwhelming yes, it exists for many reasons, ignorance, lack of understanding, lack of care/compassion and when companies fail to understand the individuals they employ.
As we mentioned from the research by DPG almost half (48%) said there is a noticeable stigma in the company they work for, three-quarters (74%) said they felt it necessary to hide sanitary products at work, and 60% said they would be uncomfortable discussing the topic of menstruation at all with other Employees let alone Managers.
The stigma we know that exists leads to silence, menstruation is a taboo subject, I have always failed to understand why, let’s face it having a period is a bodily function.
How do I know if stigma exists in my workplace?
In a nutshell, if it isn’t talked about openly, nor do you have an open policy in relation to menstruation then stigma will be lurking in your workplace.
You may have Employees whose sick days cannot be answered for, requests at short notice for time off, and then there is the ‘banter’, it really does exist.
Not having a policy will undoubtedly not help (gender and menopause polices are also useful).
How can I break down the stigma?
We advocate open communication in the first instance, it is true that not all will experience symptoms, you should adopt a supporting environment, in turn that will improve overall wellbeing, and minimise the impact on attendance and productivity.
We are sure that by normalising periods it will help to create an inclusive environment.
To start to break down the stigma you can:
Encourage them to speak up honestly and openly, by doing so they will feel better. As an Employer you should create an open honest environment to be able to provide support for them in the workplace.
In the research 57% of those who suffer have lied to their Manager about the reason for taking a day/s off sick.
Individuals who menstruate can (and do) experience a wide range of health issues from cramps to migraines and endometriosis.
Eliminate the banter
One in ten menstruators have experienced derogatory comments about periods when at work, for example, “it’s because she’s on.” Attributing someone’s mood, actions for example, “that time of the month” just adds to the stigma, we consider comments like this to be discriminatory.
As an Employer you should consider the banter you hear, or know is happening, and deal with it head on, ‘banter’ type comments can and are discriminatory.
As an Employer how can I provide menstrual support in my workplace?
We are pleased you are still reading, there are so many practical actions you can take to support your Employees, we are covering just a few here today, you can contact us for more help and assistance.
Here’s some practical actions you can take:
- put in place a menstruation policy (by introducing a policy around menstruation will help to empower individuals, demonstrates you care and supports productivity and wellbeing
- include menstruation in other policies (adding sections to relevant policies will help to empower individuals, demonstrates you care and supports productivity and wellbeing, you can add to gender, leave, absence & sickness, flexible working etc)
- when adding to polices – be specific, make them individual to your company (for example if you want to offer paid leave then add it, don’t be generic)
- provide access to period products (free sanitary products are an excellent idea, free products assist financially and can alleviate embarrassment too)
- be inclusive – ensure sanitary bins are in all toilet spaces along with free sanitary products (don’t forget that non-binary and trans need access)
- offer flexible working (this allows more flexibility making it easier for Employees dealing with menstrual symptoms)
- raise awareness (train or get your Managers trained, and ensure they have access to quality information about menstrual health)
- offer rest breaks (most individuals may need to take medication (pain relief) then a short break until they can resume work
These are just a few areas that we feel will be of use, we encourage that you foster an open and transparent culture, we suggest you communicate in your usual method, this should include messaging about period support, who to speak to and what the support looks like in reality.
By being proactive in helping people manage their wellbeing in the workplace, it can only lead to loyalty and will support not just them to be happy but provide you with a productive team.
While this article has given you a brief overview, since this can be a complex topic, it is impossible to cover every aspect in a single article, nor do we proclaim to be medical professionals.
How can we help you?
If you would like support HR and You Ltd are experienced in our understanding of HR and Employment Law, and we pride ourselves on policy writing which is bespoke to your business; we would be happy to help your business. Do not hesitate to contact us or via email, [email protected], phone, 0333 006 9489, for a no obligation chat to find out whether our services are right for you.
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