- Almost nine out of 10 of those who menstruate have experienced anxiety or stress in the workplace due to menstruation
- An overwhelming majority experienced some form of stress in the workplace because of their period
- More than a quarter (27%) reported never feeling supported by their employers, with the youngest respondents feeling the least supported.
- A quarter believed that taking time off work for menstrual health issues had negatively affected their career progression.
These are just some of the findings of research released in January 2021 by menstrual equity charity Bloody Good Period. The report, based on a survey of 3,000 members of the public together with an employer-facing study, highlights a ‘concentric cycle of silence’ around periods at work, and is a rallying cry for employers to take action on improving their knowledge, understanding and empathy around periods at work.
When asked what employers could do to help, 63% of survey respondents said that the conversation around periods in the workplace needs to be normalised, rather than repeatedly ignored. Joe Gray, Bloody Good Employers project lead at BGP, says: “The repetitive lack of communication around periods is at the heart of this ‘cycle of silence’.”
“Most, though not all, workplaces have issues around stigma, non-disclosure around how periods can be challenging at work, and a general lack of knowledge. In spite of this, our research shows it is possible to exercise change, in a very human way.”
“Even the simple act of taking part in this research encouraged managers to start talking and reflecting, which is an essential starting point. We also heard about positive rapport in workplaces that provide open and productive environments for these conversations. That approach is what we will help all UK employers do more of through Bloody Good Employers.”
Bloody Good Employers is BGP’s new programme, launching in 2021 and aiming to help employers play a more active role in the conversation around menstruation, and improve the support they offer to employees who menstruate.
BGP believes the Covid crisis has focused attention on the changes that are possible at work. Gabby Edlin, BGP founder and CEO, says: “More than ever, we have an opportunity to actively reshape our worlds and workplaces.”
“There’s also a business case for doing this: we believe that supporting people when they have their periods can have significant mental health benefits, boosting satisfaction levels, happiness at work, productivity and loyalty. Looking after staff in a way that reflects their whole selves is the right thing to do.”
The initiative will support UK employers to do more in how they support anyone experiencing menstruation at work, driving proactivity in three key areas that shape workplaces; culture, communications and policies. Through in-depth self-evaluation, a short set of engaging workshops and ongoing evaluation, employers will move towards becoming Bloody Good Employers through this work.
The charity is currently looking for forward-thinking launch partners, who want to be aligned with a positive, human-centred approach to normalising menstruation in the workplace. If you are an employer who wants to drive this work forward, contact Joe for an informal discussion at firstname.lastname@example.org.