Inequality at work has many faces and a long history.
The most famous gesture of resistance against it, was the events of 1974 in Iceland. In the so-called Long Friday 90% Icelanders women did not go to work and refused to perform household duties, which ended up paralyzing the country. But only for one day. They wanted to show in this way how much work, also unpaid and invisible, they do. It paid off, a year later Iceland passed the Gender Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination in workplaces and schools.
Almost half a century has passed since these events, and women in most countries of the world still earn less than men. Korean women feel the record difference – their salaries are lower by an average of one third. In the European Union, this difference amounts to approx. 14%. In Poland – 8.5%. Sounds nice? No, if we count that it means that women, compared to men, do not get paid for about 20 days of their work. It’s like working for free for 1 month a year.
Even air-conditioning systems and the weight of the front door are designed with young men in mind, weighing an average of around 70 kilograms. Finally, inequality can also apply to access to toilets. Research shows that for women, a visit to the toilet lasts 2.3 times longer than for men. Access to hygienic and safe toilets is one of the pillars of menstrual health. Women have to take off more clothes, and they are often accompanied by children. Those who menstruate need to change tampons and pads.
Access to hygienic and safe toilets is one of the pillars of menstrual health. So is access to menstrual supplies and an environment in which the menstruating person is not stigmatized or exposed to distress. Quite a few gentlemen reading us are now thinking: why should this problem also apply to me? This is due to pure statistics. About half of the world’s female population are women of working age. This means that roughly a quarter of the world’s population has regular menstruation. They are our mothers, sisters, daughters, our bosses, and our subordinates.
And because over 84% of women experiencing painful periods, we should not be surprised by the data from the Kulczyk Foundation study. They show that as many as 17% of women in Poland have missed work or school because of their menstruation. In turn, every tenth Polish woman had to relinquish they duties for a very prosaic reason – the lack of a sanitary pads during their period. A natural, biological process often becomes an obstacle to gaining equal opportunities for professional development.
So let’s check how menstruation is perceived in the workplace today. According to more than half of men, talking about it in this place is … inappropriate. No wonder then that almost 60% ladies feel ashamed of their period, and up to ¾ hides a sanitary pads or tampon on the way to the office restroom.
Are you the boss? You definitely provide your employees with free access to soap, toilet paper, coffee and tea. Often also such additional benefits as fruit or sweets. So why don’t you give them access to sanitary pads as well? It is impossible to work normally without them. For a menstruating employee, such an expense is a monthly cost ranging from 1 to 4 zlotys.
Changing the company’s thinking and policy in this area translates into specific benefits. Menstrual health in the workplace is evidence that an employer cares about employees and cares about gender equality. Such a company is better perceived by job candidates and potential contractors.
The answer to such needs is #CyklKariery, a program for companies initiated by Kulczyk Foundation.
Watch the video on the Kulczyk Foundation YouTube Channel.