Is there (finally!) a wind of revolution in the business world? The topic largely confined to the realm of intimacy invites menstruation in HR skills with the media spotlight on an unprecedented problem: menstrual leave. Just over a year after the initiative of “La Collective”, a cooperative based in Montpellier, other French structures have adopted the same system. The last? Marédoc, a crustacean company based in Frontignan (Hérault). It launched this leave in April 2022. Its director, Yoann Archimbeau, tells POSITIVR the reflection that led him to take this still marginal initiative on French territory.
How did you come up with the idea to introduce menstrual leave in your company?
After the past two years, we have been asking ourselves questions about our society. We wanted to contribute more to the well-being of employees. We are evolving in an area of activity that is not easy and quite physical, I was looking for solutions from right to left and I came across an article about menstrual leave introduced in Spain. It resonated, I talked about it with the company’s communications manager, Flora-May Lalonde, and I asked her to find out if this initiative existed in France, as we had never heard of it from our side. She looked and came across a company in Montpellier, La Collective. Their feedback was positive, so we thought the introduction of such leave was an added value for our employees.
This article was a revelation to me. When I talk about this topic now, many other leaders like me will respond. But I hope that in the long run it will go further, that we can integrate it into the labor law in general.
Last April, the company Louis Design also announced the introduction of menstrual leave, have you been in touch with that?
They were us in terms of media exposure (laughs), but I think we had the idea at the same time. It’s quite positive to see that another company has also set up this type of device, even if we were initially a bit put off by the reception in the media. In the reports I read, many women were against the initiative. I kept coming back to Flora for these negative comments. If that slowed us down a bit in our approach, we ended up telling ourselves we thought it might be a good thing. It is up to us to make it clear that menstrual leave can be a plus for our employees.
“Allowing that extra day off is a fair reward, especially if you are on your feet all day, as is the case in our society.”
Yoann Archimbeau, director of Marédoc
How did you prepare for the concrete implementation of this new leave?
We first invited our employees: we suggested this idea to them and told them that we thought it was a plus for them. They were all pleasantly surprised. After they validated the project, we organized a collective meeting with all teams. Our employees had to be aware that this leave is by no means a form of discrimination, because as men we still do not realize what it is like to have a period every month. We are spared this difficulty. Granting this extra day off is a considerable achievement, especially if you are on your feet all day, as is the case in our society.
What feedback did you receive from your employees?
At first they were a little intimidated by the offer, thinking it would be misconceived by men. But I explained very quickly that this was not the goal. I have a wife and two daughters and seeing how badly my wife can experience her period… The idea is to offer support, a plus, and reassure them about these 8 hours of extra leave that are available to them to to breathe a little . We have rhythms that have become more intense, I really insist that it gives them a bit of fresh air compared to their period.
The fact that the subject is covered in the media makes it easier. I think it will get better. For now, they don’t dare too much, but we don’t encourage them either. It is at their request, without any obligation. I trust them in this area, we are a small structure, still on a human scale, with about ten women out of 23 employees. Because even though we work in a rather ‘masculine’ field, we try to be equal and to integrate as many women as possible. Within a company, parity tends to soften the relationships and create a different mood, much more communicative and simple. In general, the more we try to be fair and just, the more positive it will be and society will move forward.