Have your bloody say on menstruation at work

With more people returning to work every day, now is the time to evolve and improve our workplaces - especially when it comes to periods. We need all of your voices to help shape the future, say Rachel Grocott and Joe Gray of menstrual equity charity Bloody Good Period

Tuesday 23 June 2020 07:00
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Life is throwing so many new challenges at us at the moment. As we all seek to navigate our brand new and still-changing ‘new normal’, there is one thing that remains consistent: periods. As we have said repeatedly over the last three months, periods don’t pause for a pandemic – nor for the easing of lockdown. Which is why we at charity and activist organisation Bloody Good Period think this time provides us with a major opportunity: to refresh our workplaces’ approach to, and support of, menstruation.

There is an increasingly ‘acceptable’ discourse around periods – as a collective society, we are waking up to the fact that they are a normal, healthy and essential part of life, and that it’s not just okay, but rather bloody important, to talk about them. This conversation is something we have actively led and encouraged at Bloody Good Period, because we believe that everybody should be able to talk about periods, and nobody should feel ashamed of them.

We believe normalising periods helps people get the information and support they need (over half of girls in the UK still do not know what is happening when they start their period, which is surely unacceptable [from research commissioned by Betty for Schools]), and also breaks down the learned shame and disgust that we have all been taught (why are we ashamed of a biological process which is responsible for life on earth?). Attitudes are slowly changing, but we believe that the next frontier for our attention is the nation’s workplaces.

It’s often the case that your workplace is the place you are least able to talk openly about periods and how they affect your life and work. It’s where you probably have to hide your period products on the way to the bathroom, or pretend you have a stomach bug so that you can work from home with a hot water bottle to manage period pain. Perhaps it’s the place where you can’t be truthful about why you need time off for a medical appointment relating to your menstrual health. Or maybe it’s where you can avail yourself of free snacks and perhaps drinks on a Friday, but there are no period products available in the bathrooms.

The workplace isn’t, generally speaking, set up for women and people who menstruate; neither is the workday. Many of us have learned in recent weeks that it is eminently possible, and often desirable, to work somewhere other than a conventional office at conventional times. Flexible working and mental health have been bought into the spotlight by lockdown, and we believe acknowledging and supporting the reality of menstruation is a natural extension of that. As we build a new reality, it’s time we factored in periods, too.

We want our new initiative, Bloody Good Employers, to help employers play a more active role in the conversation around menstruation, and to improve the support they offer to employees who menstruate, through their communications, their culture and their policies. We believe that this will help to drive forward gender equality at work, creating more human workplaces fit for today and the future. But in order to shape the programme so that it can have the most impact, we want to hear from the individuals that this work will help and support. If you have experience of working in the UK, and you also experience periods, please complete our survey to help us have the right impact. If you’d like to help even more, please share it with your networks too. You’ll be helping us to make this initiative as meaningful as possible, and helping more people to have bloody good periods.

You can find our survey here. All participation is completely anonymous, and it should take about 5 minutes of your time. Thank you.

About Bloody Good Period

Bloody Good Period was founded in 2016 by Gabby Edlin, CEO, when she decided something needed to be done to create a sustainable flow (pun intended) of menstrual products to those in need. Now a registered charity, BGP is partnered with over 50 drop-in centres for refugees and asylum-seekers around the country. In response to Covid-19, BGP has widened its work to get essential period supplies to anyone who needs them. Since the start of lockdown, over 22,000 packs of menstrual products have been distributed to food banks, refuges, shelters for the homeless, groups supporting those fleeing domestic violence, refugees, asylum seekers and frontline NHS staff.

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