Half of the population has a monthly menstrual period. A natural phenomenon, menstruation and premenstrual syndromes have an impact on the daily life, physical and mental health and finances of those involved. How to take these parameters into account in your company? How can we make life easier for people who experience severe pain once a month, or for those who suffer from the effects of inflation and do not have the money to buy the necessary products? Overview of the solutions that are available and can be applied in business.
“Doctors now say that the pain we feel when we have painful periods is the same as the pain we feel when we have a heart attack. So we’ve been enduring this pain for years and just go to work. We tie the knot and go to work because we have been trained for this! » American comedian Sasheer Zamata’s video has been viewed more than a million times on Instagram in less than three weeks. Its success testifies to an absolute flaw in the world of work, an unthinkable thought that nevertheless affects 50% of the world’s population: the consideration of menstruation.
If in France at least 2 million people are affected by menstrual poverty, “44% of women have missed work themselves or know someone who missed work because of their period”according to a survey conducted by the Rules Elementary association, with OpinionWay in May 2021. As reported in this article by Neon† † 90% of women experience monthly symptoms of menstruation† , said the American scientist and sports physiologist Esther Goldsmith. Including depressive symptoms such as lack of motivation, self-confidence, even crying spells and low morale. What impact performance at work.
If pain and illness are still poorly treated with drugs, still taboo in many societies, you can take action on these topics within your company. How?’ Or ‘What? Here are our thoughts.
Install a product dispenser Magazines
Several university institutions introduced it early in the 2021 academic year, in response to what has been termed “menstrual precariousness.” Due to lack of money, some young girls do not attend class because they cannot afford sanitary pads, tampons or menstrual cups. Others prefer to skip a few meals a month to meet these basic needs. In both cases, the conclusion is terrible: lack of access to certain products can have serious consequences on the education and upbringing of children and young adults.
In the world of work, the problem remains the same: having your period weighs on your wallet. In addition to purchases directly related to menstruation, you sometimes have to invest in a hot water bottle, take medicine, see your doctor… And in a time of inflation, increasing insecurity in France and increasing inequality, initiatives within companies, such as those by schools are practiced are welcome, if you cannot increase the income of your employees…
Several companies offer distributors of ready-to-use periodical products such as Marguerite & Cie, Cleanitud, Period for business, Jho… But nothing obliges you to use this type of service. You can easily plan the purchase of sanitary towels and tampons yourself, so that you always have them available in the toilets of your company.
Donate menstrual cups and panties
Periodic products are making way for sustainable alternatives such as washable briefs and sanitary towels or even menstrual cups. Why not try to bid? to participate in the financing of some of his articles to the people who need it in your company? You can think of a collaboration with a French brand such as Dans ma culotte, Plim or even Réjanne and Fempo.
Collection of periodic products
Thinking about your teams is good, but thinking about others is even better! You can involve all your employees in the fight against menstrual poverty by setting up a one-time or year-round collection point. You can contact the association of your choice, such as Elementary Rules, ADSF (Acting for women’s health) or Féminité sans abri.
Some professions do not have to be continuously present on a site. Others allow employees to organize themselves however they want. So whenever possible, a company can offer all its employees the opportunity to telecommute. This is abouta simple alternative to allow those who suffer once (or more) a month to rest with a hot water bottle on their stomach without having to endure the inconvenience of public transport or the gaze of employees who are still too little informed about these issues.
Offer menstrual leave
These simple two words, combined, can make the most reactionary among us jump. However, the introduction of menstrual leave is leaving its wake in the world and in the minds of some people in France. So much so that the first company to offer it in France launched … only in January 2021, reports Current HR†
All female employees of La Collective, a cooperative company specialized in recruiting donors for NGOs, are affected by this measure. Specifically, to be able to enjoy this additional (and optional) leave per month, it is enough for the 16 women (out of 37 people in total) to send an email to the administrative director of the company. The “privacy of information” is guaranteed, we can still read that on the site. The salary is then paid in full, just like any other day off.† So it is not a work stoppage as menstruation is not a disease.
In France, such an initiative is still very marginal and under discussion, but the question has the merit of being put to management, managers and all its teams. However, for Dimitri Lamoureux, the co-manager of La Collective, the implementation of such a measure was obvious. “This leave avoids the double penalty: physical pain and loss of wages”he told Current HR†
The general consideration of the rules in the world of work
This point has several traps that you are not allowed to fall into. The first is to reduce those affected to their menstrual cycle. Too many women have heard this violent and reductive answer too many times in the playground or in meetings: “Do you have your period or something?” †† A question that aims to disprove any emotion (anger, sadness) in favor of a simple biological fact. The second point concerns the number of employees: the larger the payroll, the more difficult it is to take into account the particularities of each. That said, a corporate culture that promotes communication and organization has everything to gain.
This was demonstrated by the scientist Esther Goldsmith. In view of her studies on the menstrual cycle, she explains that the “can be good for scheduling important meetings, etc.” in phases where one feels better able to ‘perform’ or when anxiety levels are lower. † In the midst of premenstrual syndrome, it is better to reconsider your priorities if: (and only if) one has the impression of being overwhelmed. It can be imagined that this is a disadvantage for women and people who are menstruating but well thought out, working by feel, can prove to be very effective.
Example with the women’s soccer team in the United States, which has used the work of Esther Goldsmith, among others, to adapt their training and nutrition to their cycles in anticipation of the Women’s World Cup, we can read at Marie Claire† Results? The team led by Megan Rapinoe just won the championship.
By making rules a banal and common subject, we increase trust between management and all employees. What negative can happen if you look at things from this point of view?