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How to support menstruators in the workplace

So it’s that ✨wonderful ✨time of the month again and suddenly you’re absolutely dreading going to work. You’ve got cramps, you’re on your last tampon, and you’re afraid to rock your favourite white dress pants. Menstruation happens to 50% of the population for one week, every month, for 39 years, so why are we still so afraid to talk about it? 

Research from DPG shows that 74% of women feel it’s necessary to hide sanitary products at work, and 60% stated they’d be uncomfortable discussing the topic of menstruation at all with colleagues or managers. For something that is a natural bodily function for almost half of your workforce, this shouldn’t be the case. 

It’s time to break down the stigma surrounding periods and for employers to take action to address menstruation in the workplace. Today, we’re breaking down the three things you can do to be more inclusive of the menstruators in your workplace.

1) Create an open culture where it’s normal to talk about periods 

It’s unfortunate that there is still a stigma surrounding menstruation. However, we can begin to change this and as a manager, you can be a part of this change. Talk openly with your team so that you can begin to create an environment and culture where these types of conversations are not only supported but encouraged. Ensure team members feel comfortable to come to you and let you know what they’re experiencing. Offer up the opportunity to work from home or other accommodations if needed. Every period is different and menstruators experience different symptoms!

2) Offer free menstrual products in the bathroom

Similar to how we provide toilet paper, many workplaces are starting to provide menstrual products in the bathroom as well. It’s the worst feeling in the world to get caught empty handed when on your period. This can create anxiety and ultimately result in lost productivity hours. The Canadian government just announced that all federally regulated workplaces will be required to provide menstrual products in their bathrooms. Consider doing the same in your office!

3) Consider introducing a menstrual leave

Every menstruator is unique and experiences different severity levels of pain, cramps, or emotional symptoms when on their period. For some menstruators, the pain is so debilitating, it’s hard for them to move and leave their bed. For this reason, many workplaces are introducing 1-2 days of menstrual leave per month. This provides individuals with flexibility to take time off or work remotely when they are experiencing pain or other negative symptoms during their period.

The bottom line

The reality is that a large portion of your workplace will get their period for several days each month. It’s time to start smashing the stigma around these taboo topics and introducing policies that support menstruators in the workplace. If you aren't a manager or decision maker in your workplace, consider sending this blog to someone who is!