Business owners now pay more and more attention to ensuring comfort at the office. It is a normal practice to ensure access to comfortable workstations, adequate lighting or air conditioning. Offices are increasingly often equipped with plants and greenery as well as dedicated spaces for games, quiet conversations and relaxation. Moreover, there is filtered water, good coffee and fresh fruit in the kitchen, and hand cream and paper towels (also for those who don’t want to use hand dryers) in the restrooms. Here’s what’s missing: menstrual products. While it is natural for employers to do their best to make employees feel good at work, they seem to forget about the basic needs of women.
At the same time, menstruation as a natural physiological process affects around a half of the workforce. Sometimes, it comes unexpectedly, which leads to embarrassment and frustration when the menstruating person is unprepared. All it takes is a little empathy to make a difference.
Kulczyk Foundation encourages employees to create friendly workplaces for all employees. The organisation, together with its partners: the Polish Business Roundtable, the Employers of Poland, Okresowa Koalicja [Period Coalition] and Sukces Pisany Szminką [Success Written in Lipstick], has initiated the first edition of its nationwide programme called Career Cycle.
The campaign is aimed at all companies, institutions, public administration bodies and social organisations. Joining the programme is very easy. All you need to do is complete the declaration that can be found at cyklkariery.pl, and then implement a few inexpensive changes.
Simple steps to be more friendly
Among other things, menstrual health and hygiene involves access to preferred and appropriate menstrual products (tampons and pads), safe places to change and dispose of them, and the appropriate sanitary facilities.
This is the minimum you can do, or you can go full bore, considering these numbers: 1 in 5 women in Poland have difficulty buying the appropriate menstrual supplies.
In your quest towards creating a workplace that is friendly to all employees, the first thing you might do is provide free menstrual products. At cyklkariery.pl you will find a calculator that allows you to plan your costs. A company that employs 15 women will need 46 products (23 sanitary pads and 23 tampons) to make sure the ladies are protected in the event of a first unexpected day of their period. It costs only PLN 20 to purchase them. To provide a full supply (for more than the first day of menstruation), around 150 products are needed, which involves an expenditure of about PLN 65 per month. You should remember, however, that these are only emergency products that not all women at the company will want or need to use. So, the actual monthly cost of the products might be much lower.
It is also important to provide menstruating people with unrestrained access to toilets, where a person can freely change their menstrual products. And while we’re at it, don’t forget to put a trash bin in every stall, either!
It might be a challenge to build a menstruation-friendly culture in the workplace and engage all employees, regardless of their gender. Even tiny changes, such as making menstrual products available in the restrooms, can break taboos and help raise awareness about menstrual health.
And the final thing is to plan your working hours properly. Remember: changing menstrual products or resolving period-related complaints may require more time. Some women may be struggling with endometriosis, PMS (premenstrual syndrome) or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and need time off for a doctor’s appointment or sick leave.
It pays off!
Creating a workplace that is friendly to all employees translates into measurable benefits. Time management that takes account of the needs of menstruating people can increase attendance. Access to menstrual products and open conversations about health-related issues boosts confidence in employees and creates a good working atmosphere, making menstruating people feel cared for and able to rely on those around them. This, in turn, improves communication in the company.
Employer and colleague responsiveness also increases productivity, while familiarity with the menstrual cycle boosts the efficiency and creativity of those who menstruate.
Anything the company does to promote gender equality makes the company a more attractive place to work.. It also provides a competitive advantage and increases the likelihood of attracting new business partners.
What is important, by joining the Career Cycle campaign, your company also has a chance to contribute to the Global Sustainable Development Goals.
‘Let’s create a space that makes us the best version of each and every one of us, regardless of gender. Equality and diversity have power that is worth leveraging. Let’s take care of menstrual health in our workplaces’, encouraged Dominika Kulczyk, President of the Kulczyk Foundation.
The Career Cycle campaign is sponsored by the UN Global Compact Network Poland and Omni Calculator. Wirtualna Polska and Money.pl are the media patrons of the programme.
By Monika Rosmanowska
The text was published at WP.pl on 31 January 2022