Article: Why is it important to have a period-friendly workplace?

A Brand Reachout InitiativeCorporate Wellness Programs

Why is it important to have a period-friendly workplace?

In this exclusive webcast, People Matters discusses with experts and wellness leaders on what it means to build a period-friendly workplace.
Why is it important to have a period-friendly workplace?

As per the estimates of UNICEF, over 1.8 billion people in the world menstruate, and it is only logical that many of them do so while at work. This can naturally impact their productivity, well-being, and self-confidence. Organizations are on the back foot when it comes to creating period-friendly workplaces. The conversation is usually limited to providing sanitary pads, and the talk of period leaves is also in its nascent stage. In an exclusive webcast in partnership with Sirona Hygiene, People Matters tries to understand what it means to support employees in having a comfortable period at work and the importance of intimate health and hygiene.

 

This conversation includes Dr Diksha S. Chadha, MD, Preventive Medicine Founder, The Purple Nest; Megha Nad, Counsellor - Employee Wellness Team, Zomato and Deep Bajaj, Co-founder & CEO, Sirona Hygiene.

5Ps of PMS: Setting the context 

Diksha sets the context of the conversation by explaining that creating a period-friendly workplace is not intended to achieve diversity for a group of people but has a measurable impact on workplace productivity. Intimate health and menstrual health are grossly misunderstood subjects, and even people who menstruate do not fully understand the physical, hormonal, and mental aspects of experiencing periods. Not many realize that periods are intimately tied to the overall health and hormonal regulation. If employers and employees can understand the 5Ps of period hygiene, these conversations can become significantly easier to conduct:

  • Palms: Washing hands after using period products, and importantly, even before using them, is critical in workplaces as washrooms are shared. 
  • Product: A shift to safer product options can only be helpful if there is awareness of how to use them appropriately. 
  • Proper disposal: Lack of spaces to properly and hygienically dispose of period products continues to be a significant constraint in workplaces. 
  • Pain: Discomfort and pain are natural symptoms for people who menstruate, and finding solutions that can help ease the pain when giving leaves is not an option is critical. 
  • Period in between periods: Periods are not an isolated event that happens for 4-5 days only, but what you do in the time between two periods is equally important. Your sleep, physical activity, lifestyle, and diet, everything influences the symptoms of PMS. 

How can companies create a period-friendly environment? 

Megha says that the first step to building a period-friendly framework is understanding what menstruators experience. It is important to realize that for some people, the symptoms can be so disruptive and severe that it can significantly impact their quality of life. Diksha adds that organizing expert-driven sessions and workshops to help people understand how they can manage symptoms and dispel common myths can be a first step. Next, creating an enabling environment by changing the company’s infrastructure and policies is vital. This can include changing washroom designs, ensuring the availability of quality products, and offering leaves. The final step is to ensure that people use these facilities and the changes are sustained. 

Deep adds that awareness and social stigma are essential aspects of engaging people. Normalizing conversations to remove the taboo around this topic is an excellent starting point, as this can result in physical and practical changes. The fact that millions of Sirona products are used by women today is a testament to a very real need for practical solutions that can make intimate hygiene and periods easier to manage. 

Creating an inclusive and healthy workplace 

Megha explains that Zomato has vending machines for menstrual products, and separate disposal bins, and their partner organization that conducts menstrual health awareness workshops also provides employees with quality products at discounted rates. An integral aspect of this conversation is being comfortable talking about periods even with male colleagues and managers and them reciprocating empathetically to offer support. Training managers to become more sensitive and understanding through sessions, handbooks, and discussions can make it easier for team members to discuss the issues they are facing pertaining to menstrual care. 

Deep reiterates that the employer's responsibility should not end with merely providing access to sanitary pads. Instead, the discourse should be to make periods comfortable for everyone. To manage flow, pain, and other symptoms, people might want different products, and it is imperative for employers to offer such solutions to build a truly equitable workplace. Diksha adds that using sustainable products such as cups can increase comfort and eliminate the challenge of setting up disposal infrastructure in workplaces. They are an effective economic, environmental, and personal solution that many people simply are not aware of or reluctant to use.

Any practical step towards building an equitable workplace must begin with understanding what people go through when they menstruate. No two periods are the same, and it is essential to create policies, frameworks, and changes that are dynamic, human, and rooted in empathy. 

Image Credits: Freepik.

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Topics: Corporate Wellness Programs, Diversity, Culture, #Wellbeing, #HRCommunity

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