Despite roughly 50% of the population experiencing it, the corporate world loves to ignore the natural cycle of the period. From people wincing their way through meetings as cramps hit to having to awkwardly ask a colleague for a sanitary pad when caught short, the taboo of periods is one that those with the power to change workplace culture continue to wave away. You could be part of the movement to change that.
Since Scotland became the first country to introduce free sanitary products for anyone who needed them in 2020 and reports that one in 10 14-21 year olds can’t afford sanitary products every month, more institutions are being encouraged to follow suit and include period-friendly provisions for their employees and students.
Here’s a handy guide to encouraging your own workplace, university or school to take part in the initiative towards eliminating period poverty and offer free products to employees and students in need.
(PS: make it to the end of this article for a great discount, perfect if you’re ready to make the switch to a more sustainable cycle…)
Gather the troops
It’s likely that you have a host of support waiting to rally behind this cause, who might not be confident enough to start the movement themselves. Show those who have the power to enact the change that there is a demand for the service and start a petition, inviting others to sign. You could even share an anonymous survey to ask your workplace to add why they’re signing, and present your findings to the top dogs.
Map out the options
Combat any excuses you might face in response with some top-notch prep and research. TOTM, a sustainable period product company, offers a workplace initiative where they provide handy tailored packages designed for offices and other institutions.
Their Period Dignity Workplace Scheme was “designed to encourage employers to take that first step towards building a period-powerful workplace through the provision of free planet-friendly period care. We created a solution which offers a convenient choice of our 100% organic cotton tampons and pads in corporate bathrooms, as well as providing additional support with workplace talks and educational materials.” So far, they’ve had a whole range of organisations sign up to take part, and say “the feedback has been extremely positive, and many have seen this as an important step towards creating an inclusive workplace where employee dignity and wellbeing is prioritised.”
Be bold, not bashful
Talking about the menstrual cycle remains a bit of a taboo, but don’t shy away from the details. People who don’t menstruate head into a bathroom and are provided everything they need – ask those in charge to imagine a world where everyone has to provide their own toilet paper, or pay per use of the sink to wash your hands. Being prepared isn’t always easy, as cycles aren’t necessarily as regular as the movies like to suggest: TOTM shared a survey in which “88% of respondents admitted to getting their period at work and not having any products with them.”
It’s not just getting caught short that is a problem, as “respondents also admitted to worrying about their period at work (80%) with the majority (76%) saying that it had disrupted their working day.” TOTM say they “champion period equality, and statistics such as these reveal that more needs to be done to support menstruation in the workplace” – and these are some great stats to include in your mini campaign.
Remember to stay inclusive
It’s not just cis women who menstruate, after all. Trans men and non-binary folk may also experience the natural cycle every month, so plan where the products would be made available wth that in mind. You could have them in both gendered bathrooms, include a request for a gender-neutral bathroom in your campaign or find an area for people to access them without drawing any unwanted attention to themselves.
The issue of period poverty is also a global crisis: if you want to support work that is providing sanitary products to communities in need across the world, check this out.
Bump into the budget
If your employer has a budget for encouraging diversity in the workplace, there’s an opportunity to make your case. Point out that the money that is spent on providing soap and stocking toilet tissue should extend to offering sanitary products too. TOTM’s products are plastic-free, which could also work in your favour if there are any initiatives to stay green.
Fancy making the switch to TOTM’s organic, sustainable period products? Get a huge 50% off your first two subscription boxes with our exclusive code THEKNOW50 – you’re welcome!