When it’s that time of the month, going to work or school can straight up suck —especially if you have heavy periods, severe cramping, headaches, and all that other fun body stuff that comes along with shedding your uterine lining.
Plus, the above scenario is made even worse by the fact that many aren’t comfortable with period talk. In other words, walking around with a heating pad strapped to your lower stomach isn’t a conventional situation that’s simple to explain.
Fortunately, one UK company aims to change this with a “period policy.”
Event venue Coexist has a workforce largely made up of women, which is why the company feels it’s important to acknowledge the natural, bodily process they cope with. “I have managed many female members of staff over the years and I have seen women at work who are bent over double because of the pain caused by their periods,” Bex Baxter, one of the business’ directors, told the Bristol Post. “Despite this, they feel they cannot go home because they do not class themselves as unwell. And this is unfair. At Coexist we are very understanding. If someone is in pain — no matter what kind — they are encouraged to go home.”
Despite what you may be thinking, the period policy will not cut into employees’ sick leave. Instead, it will be its own separate entity. Baxter adds, “For us, we wanted a policy in place which recognizes and allows women to take time for their body’s natural cycle without putting this under the label of illness.”
Ultimately, Baxter is confident that the period policy (which will not be mandatory) will benefit the company as a whole and that it will also increase workplace productivity. “There is a misconception that taking time off makes a business unproductive,” the director asserts. “Actually it is about synchronizing work with the natural cycles of the body. For women, one of these is their menstrual cycles. Naturally, when women are having their periods they are in a winter state, when they need to regroup, keep warm and nourish their bodies.”
Baxter explains, “…So it is about balancing work-load in line with the natural cycles of the body.” Of course, Baxter isn’t speaking for ALL women —every woman experiences a unique period and deals with it in her own way.
Interestingly enough, Coexist is not the first company to take part in this policy. Many eastern countries have promoted menstrual leave as early as 1947. Nike also includes menstrual leave in their Code of Conduct.
As of right now, the period policy has not been enacted at Coexist. On March 15th, Coexist will be conducting a seminar for their employees and anyone else who wants to join, to “consider the tangible benefits of creating a ‘Period Policy’ for themselves.” This event will be hosted by women’s leadership coach Alexandra Pope, who specializes in helping companies discuss menstruation and other natural cycles.
In the end, Baxter expects that the seminar will involve discussions revolving around equality and whether or not taking time off each month is feasible for female employees. “We work on a triangle ethos of ‘trust, love and play’,” says Baxter, “So everyone at Coexist respects the company and gives more than 100 per cent to their work, so I don’t think we will have an issue with people deceiving us.”
Baxter concludes, “We just want to celebrate and start talking about menstruation in a positive way, rather than the negativity which has shrouded the cycle.” Amen to that.