Imagine a world where we had to remember to bring our own toilet roll to work, or risk being caught short? Unimaginable, isn't it. We have to start opening the conversation on periods at work.
A world where we, as adults, would be forced to awkwardly ask our colleague if they have a spare toilet roll in their bag; or make excuses to leave the office and shuffle uncomfortably to the nearest shop to buy the provisions needed. Well, this is the reality for women at work, because unlike toilet paper, the bathrooms at work do not come with period products as standard. Unless of course, you work for a very progressive company, like Google!
So, whilst a period is a perfectly natural, healthy bodily function that almost every woman will experience, just like going to the toilet, women in the workplace aren't being offered period products because it isn't regarded in the same way that toilet roll is. We need to plug #thetoiletgap.
While male employees will enter a bathroom at work and find it fully catered for, allowing them to perform their natural bodily functions, it's a totally different story for women who experience periods. And periods can and do (regularly) arrive unexpectedly, even when we're at work.
The truth is, we have to prepare in advance or risk being caught short and faced with the consequences, whether it's missing an important meeting to run to the shop, ducking out of the office to get some supplies or feeling uncomfortable and enduring an embarrassing mishap. Enough with the imbalance already!
And why should businesses care?
Because ultimately, the consequences lead to lost productivity.
We know that women are still fighting to be equal in the workplace and raising this may feel like we're putting a spotlight on the fact that we're different. As author and journalist, Emma Barnett points out in her book Period: "Women fear being seen as weak in the workplace, so say nothing about menstruation and any issues they might be having, tacitly reinforcing a view that we are less capable during our time of the month."
But it's time to address it. Remember: being different doesn't make us inferior. Being different is what diversity is all about, and it is diverse teams that perform better.
Which products are the best choice for our company?
Women use an estimated 11'000 period products over the 450 periods they're likely to have in a lifetime, and most of these products are single-use plastic, which takes hundreds of years to break down. This raises a critical point that a natural human function should not be fuelling our plastic crisis.
The solution is clear; employers should provide women with plastic-free period products in the workplace. It should be part of both their diversity strategy and their sustainability strategy – it is an opportunity for businesses to take powerful plastic-free action as well as make a gender diversity statement.
Together, let's push for employers to address the imbalance in a way that also reduces the unnecessary impact periods have on the planet. By choosing Mondays, 1% of the revenue will be donated to our 1% for the Planet non-partners such as In Kind Direct, Ocean Care, Girls on Ice and City to Sea.
City to Sea for example, is campaigning to take the plastics out of periods #plasticfreeperiods and providing menstruation education as well as resources to schools starting a much-needed conversation.
"We believe that whoever you are, wherever you live and wherever you work, you should have access to period products that look after your body and look after the planet. By providing free period products in offices, we can help to remove stigma, provide comfort and improve performance at work." Jasmine Tribe, Plastic Free Periods Campaign Coordinator at City to Sea
Mondays is also proud to be a part of the Environmenstrual Coalition coordinated by Wen, who are working to enable women and people that menstruate to manage their periods without harming themselves or the planet.
"At Wen, advocating for healthy, eco-friendly menstrual products for everyone is at the heart of our Environmenstrual Campaign. We offer free period products in our office toilet that are better for people and the planet so that all employees and visitors have the products they need. Offering products is a great way to encourage everybody to share their period experiences, which also helps us make sure everyone's needs are heard in the workplace." - Kate Metcalf, Co-Director at Wen
Let's embark on a sustainable mindset for period products when workplaces consider the natural needs of women.
In short, we're women, we menstruate, and we're part of the workplace. So, let's flex our choices.
The solution starts with speaking up and championing this cause. Become the champion at work fighting to plug #thetoiletgap. We will support you with a product package for your workplace bathroom, a feedback form (to be filled in by other women using the bathroom in your workplace) and an information sheet on the what and why of period products at work for the decision-makers!
Not only will Mondays products in the workplace help women feel confident that they'll be covered on their period at work, but it will also help break down period stigma by recognising women's experiences and opening up the conversation around periods.
The initiative will also eliminate the need for employees to seek out and buy emergency period care elsewhere while at work. If the office's local shops only sell plastic period products, employees will have to resort to using these products unnecessarily contributing to the plastic pollution crisis. By providing Mondays products, the employer would be helping curb plastic pollution from conventional period products.
Providing Mondays products will also show that the employer is concerned for their employee's personal health as Mondays products are 100% organic and free of harsh chemicals.
Nancy's top tips for women trying to encourage their workplace to provide period products:
- Reach out to us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We'll send you some information to help your case. It will surprise employers to learn that such a simple initiative that is easy and fast to implement, which promotes inclusivity and diversity at work, can cost as little as the price of a cup of coffee per employee per month.
- Pop some period products in the toilets yourself as a trial and see how welcome they are. Mondays has special period at work packs that can make this easy. And gather feedback from women; this is an easy way to demonstrate what it really means to have these products provided.
- If your employer has budgeted for green initiatives or for encouraging diversity in the workplace, start campaigning to have plastic-free period products in the workplace toilets and explain why the budget should be allocated to this.
- Speak to other women at work to gain support for the initiative. Share press articles, with HR and management, that are now discussing women's health and menstruation in the workplace as a topic. The Telegraph recently published an article on the need to address not only periods but also the topic of menopause, which is misunderstood by many. Mondays' co-founder Elisabeth Dewey complemented their piece with her insights. Check out the full article here.
- Ever been caught short? Missed a meeting because you've had to dash out? Join in the conversation and share your stories with us as we endeavour to close #thetoiletgap. Together we can make change happen.
At Mondays, we believe that all businesses, regardless of size, should provide women with period products in the workplace and embed them as part of the organisation's diversity strategy. Together let's push for all employers to take the simple steps needed to put a stop to this outdated imbalance in the workplace.