The office may feel like the last place to talk about personal issues like reproductive health, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
Whether you’re a female-led business, a small start-up, or a corporate operation with thousands of employees, a workplace that is open to discussing reproductive health is one that not only supports its employees, but also one willing to proactively reform traditional office culture.
It may feel taboo or inappropriate to discuss certain topics in a professional setting, but it’s crucial to support your female or AFAB employees with reproductive health concerns.
Female health should be an integral part of every modern organisation’s wellbeing, and diversity and inclusion strategy.
Acknowledging and empowering your female team members does more than just drive productivity and reduce turnover, it sets your business apart as a modern, inclusive organisation committed to employee wellbeing.
Keep reading for some easy ways to support your female employees and colleagues.
Educate and create awareness
However awkward it may be at first, having open conversations about female health is crucial to fostering an inclusive, safe working environment. There are a few ways you can do so as an employer.
One way is to create internal newsletters, Slack channels, or regular meetings to give employees a safe space to talk about the impact of reproductive health concerns on their work life.
Daye provides bespoke workshops for offices with the aim to democratise access to female health information in a way that is both causal and educational. We also believe these sessions should be open to all genders (if everyone is comfortable with that). Female health should not be a gender-siloed conversation, and it’s important for men to understand what their female and non-binary colleagues may be going through. Female health is human health.
Provide paid period leave
Menstrual leave is a somewhat polarising topic. Paid period leave means essentially allowing women to take a certain time off every month to deal with period symptoms.
Getting time off from work during your period might sound radical, but it’s already common practice in many countries.
Some believe that paid menstrual leave will only contribute to existing period stigma, making women seem weak, but it’s undeniable that periods can cause significant emotional and physical distress for many women.
A 2019 British Medical Journal survey found that menstrual cramps are responsible for an average of nine days of lost productivity per year, with more than 80% of respondents said they had continued to work or study while feeling unwell, and were less productive as a result.
Another survey, conducted by Bupa, revealed that 23% of women had taken time off work because of their period in the span of six months, with a following 36% not telling the truth about why they were unable to work. The research also found that women under the age of 25 are more likely to do so.
For women with chronic conditions like endometriosis or PMDD, periods can become an ever bigger burden – both physically and emotionally.
Acknowledging that there are biological differences in the workplace both validates that period symptoms are real, and also removes the pressure to perform while suffering through them.
Female health has long been neglected or sidelined by society, so creating an inclusive workplace comes down to trusting your female employees first and foremost.
Women are aware of when their productivity levels are suffering because of their period or reproductive health, so as an employer it’s your duty to give them space to rest and recover. Overall, it comes to a matter of trusting your team!
Provide free period products
This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Employee perks in general are a great way of showing that you’re invested in their wellbeing.
It’s all well and good to provide things like free meditation sessions or Friday afternoon drinks, but a solid employee benefits package should also include specific women’s health benefits.
Providing free period products shows you, as an employer, take an active interest in women’s health, and that you also recognise that access to menstrual products is a basic human right.
Many people can’t afford period products, and miss school or work as a result. Having access to free pads or tampons at work removes the fear of not being prepared – especially given that periods can also be unpredictable and often show up unexpectedly.
Providing a range of options is also crucial. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to periods, and everyone deserves access to their preferred way to manage their period. Aside from stocking office bathrooms with period care, an excellent employee benefit is providing free period care subscriptions – like Daye.
The bottom line
Catering to your employees’ health and wellbeing will result in retaining the best talent, which can only mean good things for your business.
By implementing some of these measures you can show your team that you’re truly invested in them – and their future.