Ins­tead of foos­ball tables or fruit boxes in the big com­mu­nity kit­chen, how about free tam­pons or pads in the restrooms of modern com­pa­nies? Efforts to incre­ase the well-being and inclu­sion of all employees should not stop at the topic of mens­trua­tion – even though the period taboo at work is still run­ning deep. That’s why we like to dis­cuss whe­ther we need a period-friendly cor­po­rate cul­ture (spoi­ler: yes, we do!) and what the future of mens­trua­tion at the work­place should look like.

What we can do to counteract the period taboo at work

Today we will con­ti­nue with five tips for designing a period-friendly work envi­ron­ment, to fight against the period taboo at work. Because we believe that mens­trua­tion and an inclu­sive cor­po­rate cul­ture should ide­ally go hand in hand.

1. Period education for all

Due to incom­plete edu­ca­tion and awa­reness in the field of mens­trua­tion, there is often a lack of know­ledge. This, among other things, leads to the period taboo at work. In order to coun­ter­act this igno­rance, it is important to improve the collec­tive level of know­ledge about peri­ods and mens­trual health in the com­pany. All employees should be suf­fi­ci­ently infor­med about mens­trua­tion. Phy­sio­lo­gi­cal and socio­cul­tu­ral aspects of mens­trua­tion must also be taken into con­si­de­ra­tion. Perhaps work­shops with the award of a ‘mens­trual cer­ti­fi­cate’ could be a start? In the end, all are cer­ti­fied (co-)menstruants!

2. Cycle awareness as superpower

Even though the mens­trual cycle is a key pro­cess in our body, the under­stan­ding of it is very often limi­ted, dis­tor­ted or non-exis­tent. Howe­ver, get­ting to know and under­stan­ding our own mens­trual cycle and how it affects our phy­si­cal, emo­tio­nal or social per­for­mance can help us deve­lop our full poten­tial. The secret to well-being, suc­cess and satis­fac­tion for mens­trua­ting people lies in the rhythm of the mens­trual cycle. This may sound almost eso­te­ric, but it can be veri­fied by hor­mo­nes. To also incor­po­rate the mens­trual cycle as a super­power into the busi­ness world is a revo­lu­tio­nary approach! Ever­y­where where mens­trua­ting people are working, there will also be mens­trual cycles. A quick glance at the next team mee­ting can quickly show you how cycli­cal your working envi­ron­ment really is. Regard­less of whe­ther we want to admit it or not, the mens­trual cycle plays an important part in business.

Workshops for increased cycle awareness

For grea­ter cycle awa­reness it is important to track one’s own cycle and to be able to con­sciously per­ceive chan­ges in the body (such as mood or energy levels). And to then inte­grate these into the ever­y­day life. Com­pa­nies can for example offer work­shops for more cycle awa­reness. In this con­text, edu­ca­tion about the eco­lo­gi­cal value of (cycle) mind­ful­ness is of great importance.

3. Menstrual goodies

When restrooms are equip­ped with free period pro­ducts, the first step has been accom­plis­hed. Now how about some more ‘mens­trual goo­dies’? A few hot water bot­t­les bran­ded with the com­pany logo or sus­tainable period pro­ducts can be a good idea. Pain­kil­lers or (rela­xing) teas can also help to relieve  mens­trual pain.

4. A place to rest in the office

Ide­ally, the office space should be equip­ped in such a way that employees can with­draw or change their working sta­tion, if necessary. Perhaps an extra (break) room with a com­for­ta­ble couch or height-adjus­ta­ble desks at work? Not only while mens­trua­ting can a quiet space for employees incre­ase the well-being of all.

5. Loosened dress code

Some­ti­mes even a pair of more com­for­ta­ble pants or our favo­rite swea­ter can work won­ders when we don’t feel too great. The accep­t­ance of sit­ting at the desk with a hot water bot­tle is also an important step towards a period-friendly work­place and figh­t­ing against the period taboo at work.

Periods and corporate culture: What really matters.

When mens­trua­tion is part of the cor­po­rate cul­ture, there is an important basic rule to fol­low: No gen­der-spe­ci­fic mea­su­res, please. Often it is pre­cisely the well-inten­tio­ned mea­su­res that ulti­mately harm this par­ti­cu­lar ‘group of people’. Because we live in a world where true equa­lity has unfor­tu­n­a­tely not yet been achie­ved. It is pro­bably a step in the wrong direc­tion to draw expli­cit atten­tion to gen­der dif­fe­ren­ces and intro­duce ‘spe­cial regu­la­ti­ons’ only for mens­trua­ting people. Reco­gni­zing the needs of mens­trua­ting people (and other ‘groups’) is key. The cor­po­rate cul­ture for all employees must then be desi­gned in such a way that spe­ci­fic needs are ade­qua­tely addres­sed. If the work­place ensu­res safe and healthy working con­di­ti­ons for all, this should include gui­de­li­nes for a period-friendly cor­po­rate cul­ture as well. Period at work is the­re­fore a part of the big­ger pic­ture. No more, no less.

What are your best tips for combating the period taboo at work?

Do you have any tips on how to effec­tively inte­grate peri­ods into the cor­po­rate cul­ture? What would make your work­day easier during your period? Feel free to share your ideas or hopes with us! And tell us about your expe­ri­en­ces with the period taboo at work. We are loo­king for­ward to dis­cus­sing with you and deve­lo­ping new ideas together.

Illus­tra­tion by Mag­da­lena Otter­stedt / Kopf­über Design for Vulvani

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.